Yesterday started with brunch with our friend Ari, as a sort of a prelude to football fever in London. Football being the American kind or “American football” as people so affectionately refer to it here. And by affectionately I mean the syllables of the word are over-enunciated in a long, drawn out slightly-less-than sneering sort of way. Right. Our country took the word for the world’s most popular sport and gave it to a totally different sport. Just another F You to all those Redcoats.
The NFL is now in its third consecutive annual visit to Wembley Stadium, a genius idea IMHO. It’s very popular and brings out the football fever among the thousands of Yankee expats but more importantly, all those closeted American football-loving Brits. They do exist. There is nothing more awesome than someone with that fantastic accent talking about Tom Brady.
So we roamed from pub to pub looking for a pre-game spot (the pre-game being a Man U/Liverpool match) and on just about every corner we spotted a Patriots jersey, a Jets tee, a Bengals shirt, a Tampa Bay hat… We booed the Pats fans for all the good it did last night. Then Bryan got to go to the game in that iconic stadium. In his own words:
We walked off the tube into a sea of NFL jerseys. Unlike an NFL game in the states, the game here attracts “fans” of every NFL team. The English treat this now annual game as a chance to wear their “favorite” team’s jersey. And by favorite, I mean the jersey of the team that they saw play on the BBC sometime in 1983. Who knew there were Jacksonville Jaguars fans in London? As one fan on the tube informed me, Jacksonville is the largest city in the America (doesn’t it just sound grand when they call it “America”), by landmass. Look it up. But I digress…
Entering the stadium was a classic English experience – you had to walk up stairs, then down, then up, then turn around, go back out the stadium, back in, and then up more stairs. When we finally arrived inside the seats, we were greeted by a wall of red and blue. Many fans made the trip across the pond and they wore their colors with pride. The pre-game show was complete with fireworks, giant flames, cheerleaders (The English really seemed to get a kick out of this – no cheerleaders at Arsenal games, sadly) plenty of red, white, and blue, and…wait for it…Toni Braxton! Not sure where they dusted her off from, but she was in top form.
From there on in, it was pretty much all downhill (I mean, how do you top Toni Braxton?). The Pats dominated and the English got drunk. We left early in the 4th quarter, but had a great time. Another successful year of the NFL in London, and another important moment in the long history between our two great countries. Go Jets.
And now one of my little interesting (yes, interesting) facts to share: the number 0 is frequently referred to by the British as “nought” to mean nothing and in a sports score is referred to as “nil”. I have never heard a single UK national say the word “zero” but that’s not to say they don’t all secretly use the word when I’m not around.