Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

29 Oct 2007

London Bowl Gives UK A Taste Of Parity

ESPN's Seth Wickersham notes that as middling an affair as Dolphins-Giants was, it did a pretty fair job of representing the true state of the NFL game to a European audience, where aside from the truly elite teams, it can be hard to distinguish the good teams from the bad teams when you put them on the field together. He then jumps to the conclusion that the English Premier League experience is qualitatively different, a remark which can only be described as uproariously funny to anyone who has had to sit through a Bolton-Blackburn match.

Posted by: Sean McCormick on 29 Oct 2007

11 comments, Last at 31 Oct 2007, 2:30pm by Alan Milnes

Comments

1
by Madison (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2007 - 2:02pm

Yes, the idea that the Premier League is remotely competitive is a nonsense. At the start of every year, there are four teams that might win the league - Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. And Liverpool may be a top four team, but they haven't threatened to win the league any time soon. Fans of other teams are starting to catch on to this, and are increasingly reluctant to pay the prices demanded for the game.

There's certainly nothing like the interest that is generated as a result of the draft and free agency, which allow for rebuilding efforts to be, well, successful - and not dependent on huge injections of cash from foreign billionaires.

The bigger problem, game wise, was the bad weather, a very bad Dolphins team, and a Giants side which clearly wasn't going to take any risk whatsoever once it had a 13-point lead. Not that it mattered to the people that were there. We all had a great time, and I'm pretty certain that everyone will trot out again whenever the NFL wants to come back in the regular season.

2
by Englishbob (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2007 - 2:21pm

Agree with everything above- happy for the NFL to send us thir unloved if need be! St Louis v Buffalo next!
Premiership comments in the article clearly made by a man who hasn't wathed it often- it is a terribly dul league (ex Arsenal!).

3
by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2007 - 4:03pm

I think this game was a ploy to get British fans used to poor play. This way when they get an expansion team the fans will be ready to support a team that plays at the level the Browns and Texans have played since coming into the league (before this year).

4
by Manteo (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2007 - 6:18pm

Actually, that Browns-Rams game looked like a corker. Should've sent that one over.

If Feely hadn't botched the onside kick the game could've wound up being pretty exciting at the end -- albeit, after half the crowd had already gone home.

5
by Nick_Uk (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2007 - 6:54pm

I was at Wembley and though it wasn't the greatest game, it was still something I wouldn't miss. The chance to see a regular season game is awesome for those of us outside the US.
Realisticly the only thong thst kept the game close was the weather, which was horrible.

I have seen comments about how bad the surface was but the problems were due to the rain, not the grass itself. There is always the obvious question of why, with the weather like it was, was the roof open. It should have been closed all day t keep the pitch dry.

6
by Charlie (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2007 - 7:38pm

Re: 4

Pretty much all of us were still there for the end.

Like #5, it was thrilling to be at a regular season game, even though it wasn't Bills-Oilers or anything. Getting home for the last 5m of Saints-49ers, seeing the ticker in the top right for the Giants score and thinking "Wow, I was just *at* that game" was pretty great.

7
by McGaytrain (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2007 - 7:46pm

Why are the UK-based commenters misspelling/typing everything?

8
by Madison (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2007 - 9:10pm

Actually, on the face of it the decision to send the Dolphins over wasn't the worst in the world. Of all the teams who really got a fan base going in the late 80s when the game was big in the UK, the Dolphins were the nearest and most feasible team to bring across. It's not the NFL's fault their front office sucks, and they have bad luck with injuries to boot.

And re:4, actually I was amazed how many people did stay to the end given that the game wasn't that exciting(though the disappearance of many in the club seats didn't help TV pictures... which goes to prove that selling those seats for corporate fans doesn't do anything to the atmosphere).

One other gripe that isn't in the article, but figured in a lot of the coverage I saw. We didn't boo the kneeldowns because we don't understand the game. In fact, I would wager that the London game had one of the more knowledgeable crowds that will watch an NFL game this year (it's difficult to follow the game here if you don't want to know more about it). We did it because we wished there was more action for us to see. At the end of the day, we were still more than delighted to have had a meaningful game to watch.

But the NFL did a really great job, all told - a great atmosphere and they pitched the entertainment just right, too.

9
by Penrose 10,000 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2007 - 12:24am

I was at the JAX-DEN game earlier this year at Mile High, and I'm not sure American fans understand the game either. Nobody there wanted to see a good football game, they wanted to see a Broncos victory, they wanted to be an important part of something, and as the Jaguars pulled away they all left in disgust. Nobody wants to be associated with losers.

One time at a sports bar I watched a Raider fan yelling at the offense, "run it up their throats!" as they were clearly lined up in a 5-WR empty backfield set. Americans are clueless too. And why wouldn't they be? The only way to learn is to actively go looking for information and new thoughts. And who's going to do that? It's not like there's anyone on the teevee putting knowledge out in front of people.

10
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2007 - 10:51am

7: We gets our brain medicinnes on the national health!

11
by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Wed, 10/31/2007 - 2:30pm

It may have been a poor NFL game but it was miles better than the best World League / NFL Europa / NFLE game I have ever been to. Given the weather and the fact the Dolphins never looked like winning it was great to see 2/3rds of the crowd stay to the end.

Lots of coverage in the papers yesterday - lots of opinions to go with that.