The NFL should not be playing football games in Europe. It is a stupid, ridiculous idea predicated upon the misguided belief of Roger Goodell and several owners that American football can somehow usurp the real football played with feet in England, France, Germany and beyond. As somehow who loves soccer as a sport perhaps more than American football, I could put that myth to bed in Goodell’s mind if he’d just pick up the phone and call me. But alas, he never does. Oh Roger, why don’t you call anymore?
Still they will play this game in London until it is unsuccessful and to this point it has been wildly successful. Almost a half-million people applied for tickets in 2009 and the borefest of a ballgame between the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers a year ago sold out in a matter of weeks. So since they are going to play the game in London with or without my approval, I’m going to embrace the contest.
Here’s what I like. The game is usually played in the third or fourth week of October and is always followed by a bye week for both clubs. This means the Bears will have the bye at the midway point of the season – perfect placement. I would think this in a normal season but I think it could be especially important to have the bye week later in the year in 2011 if there is a minimal amount of camp or reduced preseason schedule.
I also like that they’re playing a Tampa Bay Bucs team that, while improving, is not going to win a championship in 2011. You don’t want to go to London and get blown out and the Bucs aren’t blowing anybody out. The fact that it will be a home game for the Bucs (the Bears would never agree to relinquish a single play at Soldier Field, never mind a game) means the only detriment to the Bears will be the few extra hours they have to spend in their lavish, NFL-franchise private jet.
And I’m going. For one, because I love London and will take the opportunity to catch a soccer match and few plays while there. But also because it is about as unique an experience as I could imagine. What will it be like to sit at Wembley, wearing my navy and orange, and cheering on the Bears? Will there be Bucs fans there? If not what will the make-up of the spectators be? What will the game sound like? I simply can’t pass that opportunity up.