One of the questions I got a lot while I was in London was whether I think a London-based franchise could work. After being there, meeting people and talking to them, I really believe it can.
They have 13 million people in that city who would support a franchise. They’re very enthusiastic about the game and they want to know more about it. I think there are a lot of positives to take from the excitement every time we go there that show us they can support a team.
During my trip, the people of London were very responsive in a positive way toward the game and supportive of our league in a way I did not anticipate when I traveled over there. I got recognized quite a bit walking around in London and everyone was very welcoming.
One of the main hurdles to putting a team in London will be logistics like travel. It’s a long flight to get over there. But once you’re there, it’s very first class. I’ve talked to a couple of guys who have played in the London games and they’ve all loved the experience.
The game atmosphere itself is kind of 50/50 between fans of the two teams so there’s no real home field advantage. It’s more of a miniature Super Bowl kind of feeling because you have a week of promotion leading up to the game, a pep rally the day before. I’m told when you look out into the crowd, you can see a representation of pretty much every team in the league, so that is unique. It’s a sight to see from what I hear.
I had a great time meeting all the British fans. For the last part of my media tour I got to do a meet and greet with about 150 fans. We were set up in a banquet room and a good majority of the NFL teams were represented by jerseys on the people in that room. It was really cool to see how far the game of football and the NFL is growing.
WONDERS OF THE WORLD
After I got done with the media responsibilities, we had about a day and a half left to do some of the tourist activities before heading back home. We started our fourth day in London at the St. Paul’s Cathedral and then we took a two-hour drive to Stonehenge, which is located in Wiltshire, west of London.
If you’re not familiar with Stonehenge, it’s a series of large stones that were placed together thousands of years ago and marks some of the first indications of civilization. It’s a very unique thing to see how massive these stones are and to think about how men with very minimal resources were able to get these huge boulders up and positioned.
It was honestly a little different than I imagined. I’ve seen some of the wonders of the world and you think after seeing some ruins, you’ve seen them all. But each and every time I see a new one, I’m taken aback by how big the world is and that human civilization was trying to advance itself even thousands of years ago.
You can see why we’re so advanced now as a species with some of the things we’re able to design now, because even back then people were working to defy gravity, science and nature. From seeing Machu Picchu earlier this year to now Stonehenge, you can imagine groups of people that strived to bring structure to themselves and their world.
A FEW LAST STOPS
After seeing Stonehenge, we went back to London to visit Windsor Palace and we were lucky enough to see the Queen arriving in her helicopter. She stays in Windsor Palace during the summer, so that was pretty cool to see royalty. Later that night I finally got the chance to go to an English pub.
It was about what I expected, very traditional. The architecture and the décor there was very English, a lot of wood and many royal crests and symbols throughout the pub. I didn’t see the pub patrons that you would anticipate though. It being so close to the hotel, I believe this was more a tourist kind of pub. There were English people there, but I think they were people that worked at the hotel or in the area that went there after work.
The beers were served in half pint and pint glasses and the food was traditional pub food. I went with chicken instead of fish and chips, because I’m trying to stay away from fried foods as I get ready for training camp.
The last day in London was a shopping day. We didn’t have too much time before we had to be at the airport, so we hit some of the stores and I made it a point that I had to go to Harrods. That was the last thing I wanted to do before I left town so I could get some things for myself and some things to bring back as gifts.
We all had a great time in London. I was thankful that I was able to bring my family along and share the experience with them. They loved it and they’re looking forward to going back in October for the game.
Read part one of SJ’s London Log here.