Saturday, May 19, 2007

London Calling

“Swim across the Atlantic Ocean - 3,462 mi”

This is the 24th of 63 steps Google Maps offers when you request directions from New York to London. Estimated travel time is 29 days, 10 hours; however, Google typically forgets to take into account stops at the gas station or drowning. Well short of coughing up a few hundred pounds to fly across the pond, I’ll have to stay stateside when New York plays Miami in the first ever regular season NFL game in the UK this October. I suppose its for the best, I probably couldn’t get tickets anyway.

The first 40,000 seats to watch American Football at Wembley Stadium sold out in 90 minutes earlier this week. The lucky ‘few’ were chosen from more than half a million requests made to the NFL after they announced the game in February. The stunning show of support is in contrast to the lack of interest typically shown by Americans when the best of the pitch come to town. It’s not as if London is deprived of sport in the Fall. The Premier League is underway, Cricket could be interesting I suppose, and Wimbledon, well, is just 9 short months away

Okay, so maybe the arrival of the NFL is a welcome sight to the fans of Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham. A duel between the Giants of New York and the Dolphins of Miami sounds like a stress free way to spend a Sunday afternoon. After all, soccer club affiliations are passed down from generation to generation and if you’ve ever read Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch, you get the feeling that no one in England really enjoys being a fan, its just something you have to endure. Like the taste of vinegar on your French fries.

So what does this mean for the future of the NFL? Could an annual regular season game on the banks of the Thames become a reality? The league is already considering adding a 17th game to the regular season that would allow all 32 games to play at least one match abroad each year. And apparently, London is just the beginning. Mexico, Germany, Canada, and maybe even Australia await visits from Tom Brady, Ladanian Tomlinson, and TO. But is the world ready for the Ravens?

A defense-led team could possibly be accepted amongst those used to watching nil-nil finals. And according to Chris Quayle, an NFL fan in the UK, the purple and black could become quite popular. “I’d been aware of the Ravens’ defense from 2000 and found it exhilarating to watch Ray Lewis perform.” Says Quayle on his UKRavens fan website. “The fact that watching your team defend could be as exciting as watching them attack was new.”

Here that Mr. Goodell? Sounds like London’s calling for the Ravens.

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