Yesterday saw the fifth consecutive year that the NFL visited England when Tampa Bay Buccaneers played Chicago Bears at Wembley Stadium. Though the Brits still don’t welcome the sport with open arms, they seem to be getting used to the idea of teams playing with laces in their balls.
We’re sure they weren’t the only balls being played with too, as both teams once again brought along their cheerleading squads, which has to be another reason why the game is generating a better reception with each year that it visits the British Isles. The growing success of the sport in the UK is proved by the capacity of a 76,981 crowd who seemed to enjoy themselves so much that one fan ran on the pitch bearing his nipples while spinning his shirt in the air.
In a report by The Daily Mail, NFL’s UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood said: “When we first did this back in 2007 we were very much in the unknown. It shows that the last few years have gone very well.
“We didn’t know if it would work logistically, we didn’t know if fans would turn out. Wembley had not even been built when we first agreed to play there.
“Now, five years on, we can see that we’ve successfully carried out these games, and we’ve also got more games being shown live on Sky, and we have partnerships with Channel 4, ESPN, the BBC, and the sport has really taken off since the games began.”
In the last 15 minutes of the match, the Bucs were trailing 21-5 but rallied to score two touchdowns and pull themselves back to within three points with seven minutes to go. But the team from the Windy City responded with a field goal to seal victory in the final moments. The final result saw the Chicago Bears 24-18 winners over the Bay.
Whether the Brits care about the score all that much remains uncertain, as it’s thought many go for “the experience” of an American football match. Nevertheless the NFL still has hope that American Football will continue to rise in popularity in England.
And that might just happen, with rumours flying around that an American Football franchise will make its jolly little way to England in the near future. Just in case that becomes a reality, we polled our readers the question “What would you name a London NFL Team?” See here for the results.