International Series & An Aggie Surprise
After four weekends in a row of watching college football, it’s fair to say that I probably wasn’t in the right frame of mind for what I experienced on Saturday/Sunday.
I am referring to the ‘International Series’ NFL game that is played in London every year.
Even a few days on, I’m still not quite sure what I made of it.
Half of me thinks it was great fun and we should love having any type of American Football that we can get our grubby British paws on. The other half is very cynical.
On the Saturday, the whole of Regent Street (famous shopping street in London) was closed so that a NFL fan rally/street party could take place.
There was a main stage that saw famous ex-players introduced and of course members of the Steelers and Vikings were also paraded like God-like figures.
As a positive, it gives British fans a taste of something that isn’t particularly accessible over here.
So why the cynicism? Because the whole thing felt way too over the top. At times, I felt like I was in this commercial/cheesey/patronizing bubble that was trying to ram the sport down our throats at 100 mph. Instead of trying to attract new fans, all we were to the NFL was an attempt to make another dollar or two.
I could rant about that for a while, but instead of boring you, I shall say that it backed up what I was beginning to feel anyway.
As I referred to in NFL VS College Football, I was starting to come round to the idea that the college version of the game was better. If anything, last weekend made that belief even stronger.
At Kyle Field, are you badgered to go to the megastore and buy, buy, buy every five minutes?
College football is a more stripped back, authentic and unique occasion. In my opinion, it matters to the fans and players more.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love the NFL and find it exciting, but the huge focus on making as much money as possible is what made me become disillusioned with soccer.
Maybe that’s just sport these days and I have to live with it. Who knows?
Anyway, the Sunday (gameday) was much better. It seemed far less tacky and we had a game to watch.
On the way to the Wembley, I saw pretty much all 32 NFL teams jerseys on display. And to my disgust, I even saw one idiot wearing a Texas Longhorns t shirt. Yes, I was tempted to throw my beer over him.
Eventually, the game came and went. My Steelers had lost and I was feeling a little depressed.
Then, as I was making my way back to the tube (metro) station, in the corner of my eye I saw a ‘12’ on the back of someone’s shirt. Instinctively, I thought ‘surely not?’. But yep, it was a Texas A&M home jersey. At Wembley. In London. In England.
Unfortunately, he was a fair way away and we were in huge scrum to get on the underground so walking over to him would have been an ordeal.
It cheered me up though, I felt warmer inside. The Steelers may have lost, but to my knowledge, we had outnumbered the Longhorns 2-1.
And I’ll take any victory I can get.
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