As the National Football League continues to make noise about housing a full-time team in London and indeed begins another round of “road games” there this weekend…while recently becoming a Premier League fan as well…a few things come to mind if you plan to follow both. Keep in mind it is entirely possible if the NFL lands in London for keeps some of these items might become the lay of the land for fans.
- One thing NFL fans should look for if they locate a team in London is the NFL Players Union bargaining for getting those ultra-cool seats the Premier League players sit in during matches (games). While NFL subs are relegated to the most uncomfortable of benches these Premier reserves sit in “chairs” nicer than anything you’ll ever find in first class of Qatar Airways. If I was a sub on a Premier League team and it was late in the action…with the result not in doubt…my coaches would be prying my hands and arms off my seat to try and get me into that match.
- One thing all NFL fans should demand of all games in London is to have both teams…and by extension of course their Head Coaches…on the same sideline (touchline). Many a Premier League match has been livened up by the Managers physically having at it…shoving and cursing each other out in full view of a national audience. It makes for great television. My mind reels at the possibilities of potential NFL dust-ups between Head Coaches within a few feet of each other…let alone the players.
- One thing all NFL fans need to understand if sampling the Premier League is your bathroom timing needs to be spot-on. Americans make fun of round-ball football not having a lot of goals but it is a known fact when Americans try to take a bathroom break during Premier League play a goal will be scored. Remember the NFL has a penalty or a commercial every fifteen seconds or so and the pace…of play…is…sluggish. The Premier League requires you maintain a full bladder for at least forty-five minutes in a half…and don’t forget there’s stoppage time added on too. (I wonder if they call it stoppage time because…nah.)
- One thing all NFL fans will quickly recognize is our “catch” is the Premier League’s “offside.” Which is a politically correct way of saying even after all these decades of playing both sports the NFL still does not know what a catch is…and the Premier League doesn’t know what offside is. Don’t get me wrong. This makes for great, spirited conversation in bars and pubs as fans see the same play happen…yet two different verdicts are determined. You just need to be aware it is not unique for the NFL after all of these seasons to not know what one of the most basic calls in their sport should be…the Premier League alas suffers the same fate.
- One thing all NFL fans should harass their TV partners to provide is a studio host who knows their sport as well as NBC’s Rebecca Lowe knows hers. It’s like an extra analyst on the set when she’s managing the daily Premier League coverage. The NFL should have studio hosts who don’t insist on concentrating to appear clever while not concentrating on their cues, mangling game highlights and adding absolutely nothing to the analysis of anything. Lowe should get paid twice her salary because she not only manages the flow of the pre, mid and post-match Premier League shows but actually contributes strategy and stories effortlessly. And at that her studio analysts are former players who sound way, way more dialed-in to their sport’s strategy than the talking head former players the NFL networks trot out.
- One thing all NFL fans should get used to is electronic messaging along the touchlines at Premier League games. In one of the first games I saw this season it was very, very early in the morning (you do know there’s a bit of a time zone issue…) and I was still groggy. The next thing you know I’m yelling to my wife (who at that point woke up)…“there’s a deer on the pitch! (field).” Turned out it was only the electric signage surrounding the playing area and within the ad currently playing for Vitality Life Insurance was a dachshund. I swore it was a deer. These messages are very close to the action and you’ll see them changing regularly. And at eight in the morning…you might mistake a dog for a deer…for real.
- One thing all NFL fans should know is as quickly as we like to talk about firing our Head Coaches the fans of the Premier League jump at the opportunity even faster to sack (fire) their Managers. The NFL fan seems to rise and fall pretty hard from one week to the next but tends to give the team’s Head Coach a quarter of a season to sort things out. It seems Premier League fans are ready to remove Managers at halftime. The season in the Premier League is twice as long but the patience of the fans seems to be twice as short. The pressure to win is high in pro sports but perhaps these two Leagues lead the way in sending Head Coaches/Managers on their way.
To all NFL fans I say this…do give the Premier League a go whether or not a London franchise is a go. Their season runs into mid-May and once the Super Bowl is over you’ll likely find it habit-forming in the morning.
Just make sure you’re fully awake before watching (my wife made me put that disclaimer in…).