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Their Super Bowl: British Fans See NFL's International Series as the Big One

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25:  Fans make their way to the stadium prior to the NFL International Series match between New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium on October 25, 2009 in London, England. This is the third occasion where a regular season NFL match has been played in London.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Rob StatonCorrespondent IOctober 26, 2009

New England against Tampa Bay.

A perennial contender against a winless team in the midst of a major rebuild, it was set up to be one of the more predictable encounters of the 2009 season.

And so it proved as the Patriots coasted to a 35-7 victory, barely breaking a sweat in the process.

However, don't be mistaken for thinking this game didn't mean anything. To nearly 85,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, it was their Super Bowl.

This wasn't a bunch of "soccer" or "rugby" fans attending for novelty purposes. The United Kingdom has a vibrant community of NFL fans, which is exactly why a game like Pats vs. Bucs is a sellout.

Being offered the opportunity to watch the game they love in their own backyard, most seized the chance to attend.

A lot of teams have booster chapters in Europe, specifically in the UK, and you'd have spotted all 32 team jerseys amongst the capacity crowd at Wembley.

The British fans understand the critics' concerns regarding the potential development of this series, possibly to two games as early as next year. Indeed, you'll never escape the fact it takes away a home game from the loyal "local" fans, and the amount of travel involved is far from ideal in the middle of a difficult season.

But the NFL has become a global experience. It's not a novelty in Europe—it's right up there with the English Premiership or the Bundesliga or any of the other sports more traditionally associated with Britain or anywhere else.

The teams want to tap into that market, and so does the NFL—and the fans that regularly stay up until the early hours of the morning to watch the action or travel miles at great expense to follow their teams get to watch their sport.

At a time when franchises like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals, and San Diego Chargers are struggling to fight off blackouts, why not play a game in London in front of 85,000?

The fans will turn up, knowledgeable and with all the excitement of a child on Christmas Eve.

This is their Super Bowl, and they're already looking forward to next year's event.

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