I’ve pretty much been through every major American sport growing up. From regularly following the MLB and NHL (including watching the London Knights ice hockey team every weekend), to playing and coaching basketball and being an NBA fanatic. Of course, I’m also a big NFL fan, and after getting more involved in American football a few years back with my brother playing wide receiver for a local team, I just had to make sure I saw one of the games they play this side of the pond. Thanks to New Era, I got the chance to experience the 7th London game in style, between the Minnesota Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers. And what a game it was. More after the cut.
follow ADAM on twitter
Arriving at Wembley, I was blown away by the buzz around the stadium a whole 4 hours before kick-off. From cliché American music being blasted at a make-shift tailgate party, to fat old white men who are used to seeing their balls kicked (ha!) attempting (and failing miserably) to throw an oval ball to each other from a sport that seems like nothing short of a mystery to them. It’s all the things that would normally make me cringe, which is partly the reason I enjoy the fact that these American sports are still pretty niche over here, but I took it all in and really loved the atmosphere. The wannabe fans were kitted out in NFL jerseys of their favourite teams (or probably favourite colours and city they’ve visited in the States) and everywhere you looked were the recognisable New Era caps and bobble beanies sporting every team in the league in true sportswear fashion. I think the fans must have felt quite involved after looking down at the team benches to see the players rocking identical caps.
After being spoilt with hospitality treatment in the Wembley Great Hall, including dancing cheerleaders and interviews with NFL legends and Vikings heroes Ahmad Rashad, Randall McDaniel and Daunte Culpepper, we headed to our seats to witness what was possibly the best London NFL game to date. A scrap between two teams with terrible early season records of played 3 – lost 3, it really was a chance for either team to turn their season around in a hope to make it to the playoffs. If you’ve been following the NFL at all recently, you’ll surely have heard of Vikings running back (and probably best player in the league right now) Adrian Peterson (click his name, trust me). As expected, he stole the show with 2 brilliant running touchdowns. With a Vikings lead late on, the Steelers tried to make a comeback as Wembley came alive to be the 12th man to either the Vikings or the Steelers (don’t think anyone could quite make their mind up – it was all too exciting), but a late sack on struggling Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger meant the Vikings went back across the Atlantic with a 34-27 win.
I have to say, it was quite the experience, and thanks have got to go out to the NFL for bringing the game back to London and to New Era for the invite. I will definitely be heading back to Wembley next year. Check out some of the snaps I got below.