Wembley NFL 49ers Jaguars

My initial plan was to find as many recaps as possible of yesterday’s game between the 49ers and Jaguars that were published by the major UK news outlets, figuring they’d have some cheeky things to say about the Jags, the team the NFL is so intent on foisting upon London. What a great idea, how oh-so-clever.

There were only a few problems:

  • A lot of the main outlets were subscription-only.
  • The Mirror and Telegraph had the same game story.
  • The only two original recaps I found were totally devoid of cheekiness. No cheek at all! Totally by the book, like British versions of the AP.

I was about ready to give up and start placing some waiver claims on Marvin Jones in my fantasy football leagues, and then I got lost in the abyss of the comments section of The Guardian’s account of the game. Granted, this was in The Guardian’s U.S. section. But the language and overall tenor of the comments in this section didn’t seem like anything one would see on mainstream site in America (like SFGate, ESPN or Yahoo).

Wait … the “Mexican Wave”???

grumpyben: Incidentally, don’t American commentators realise that when a British crowd do a Mexican Wave, they are signalling boredom or mockery of the events on the pitch?

“Shambolic” is a good word that’s probably worth stealing:

adlindley: The Jags play in the NFL in the same sense that a child plays in traffic.

setyourselfonfire > adlindley: Couldn’t have put it better myself. They’ve been shambolic for years. I fear that the era of decent Ravens teams is well and truly over now though :(

Too bad their style of head protection isn’t the worst thing about the team …

Grumbly1: And finally I need to get one thing off my chest – I HATE the Jags helmets!! They look so ugly, like someone has broken into the locker room and spray painted the front of each one. I’m usually a big fan of the modern uniform changes that the NFL has introduced in recent years, but this is just plain wrong.

San Francisco 49ers = Manchester United (according to the surprisingly lucid GeoffeyManboob):

GeoffeyManboob: Clinical performance by one of the best teams in the NFL at the moment. While the Jags are bad (possibly the understatement of the year), the 49ers showed why they are so good. Superb execution right across all facets of the game.

While people look at the score and criticise that the game is a mismatch, this result is no different from Man U beating a lower league side in the cup or England winning by an innings against Bangladesh in a test match. It’s all about understanding the context of the performance.

streaker wembley

Cultural differences aside …

goulash123: A few observations though about what I thought was some really weird aspects to the evening, and reminded me that America is another world entirely, and it was odd to transplant it so completely here:

- The overt militarism. US Army everywhere, videos on ‘hometown heroes’, military symbols all over the place etc. Totally alien and out of place at a sporting event in my view.
– The objectification of women – the cheerleaders, probably fair enough, but videos of players saying whether they prefer Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell, with videos of players panting and gurning? Really?! I’d love to take my young daughter next year, but this is just casual sexism and I’m not sure that I want to expose her to this kind of message
-Being ordered to stand for the national anthem?! of another country? that was strange…
-Video screens saying ‘wave your flags’, ‘make some noise’, umm no. British crowds won’t go in for being told when to cheer, WTF?!.
-Mexican waves – please no. These only happen when what’s happening on the field is dull, and that so many went round, speaks a lot.
Some of the pitch side entertainmnet (that you don’t see on telly) was mildly diverting, and at times quite amusing (the ‘streaker’ for example)

All in all though a good evening, and I could definitely get interested in this, especially if in the fantasy where a team played full time in London, I could probably muster enough interest to go at least a few times in a season. So I suppose from that point of view, the International Series could probably be considered a success, if it turns a curious neutral into a ticket buyer.

A reasoned, calm response to the previous commenter (the UK is a different world):

Applespider > goulash123: >The atmosphere overall was OK, but I would be interested to know how it compared (level of noise etc) to an actual home NFL game.

Nowhere near it. At an actual game where 90% of the crowd are home fans and determined to make noise to disrupt offense, it’s very very different. However, it does generally have more of a family feel since there’s less intensity in the crowd so less bad language and behaviour to ‘rival’ fans.

- The objectification of women – the cheerleaders, probably fair enough, but videos of players saying whether they prefer Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell, with videos of players panting and gurning?

That jarred with me too and I’ll be sending some feedback to say that I don’t think that was acceptable.

-Video screens saying ‘wave your flags’, ‘make some noise’, umm no. British crowds won’t go in for being told when to cheer, WTF?!.

In the NFL, the crowd are encouraged to make a noise when their team is on defense to disrupt the signals from the offense. They put those signs up in the US too…

-Mexican waves – please no. These only happen when what’s happening on the field is dull, and that so many went round, speaks a lot.

Indeed although I don’t think they are co-ordinated by the organisers but by groups of fans when THEY are bored and kick it off. I hate the Brit tendency to do it even when there’s action happening on the field. They do it everywhere – even at the Olympics when hockey teams were driving for a goal.

That Harbaugh bloke has got a bloody cannon: 

Applespider: The other thing not mentioned above that made me smile this weekend was at the fan rally. They’d been asking people on stage to toss a few footballs out to the crowd. Mostly they’d land somewhere between the stage (at the foot of the column) and the fountains. Until they gave it to Jim Harbaugh… He pulled his arm back, let go and it ended up virtually in the National Gallery. I guess that’s why he was an NFL QB!

***

That’s right, no comments about how the Jaguars “loose” every game or commenters writing “YOUR AN IDIOT” at each other. What does it all mean? Not much, since we’ll all go back to following the game of American football in all its militaristic glory and ignoring what’s going on in England — all of us besides the Premier League fans, anyway.

A running theme in the comments was how people seemed open to and in some cases enthusiastic about the idea of the NFL installing a franchise in London full-time. Then again, people who take the time to comment on a game played at Wembley might be a tad more interested in the NFL’s future plans than the average British citizen. But while it was difficult to find much coverage from the British media, the sellout crowd and comments underneath The Guardian’s story show why Roger Goodell is so keen on this whole London thing. We’ll see if British fans still feel the same way after three straight years of hosting the Jags.