NFL 2011 Preview: The London Eye: Are You Ready for Some Footbaalll?

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NFL 2011 Preview: The London Eye: Are You Ready for Some Footbaalll?
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The London Eye is an occasional column about football seen through the eyes of a writer stranded in London, England


Tom Lehrer almost had it right when he sang:

All the world seems in tune on a spring afternoon

When we're poisoning pigeons in the park

What he meant of course was:

All the world seems in tune on a fall afternoon

When we're throwing a football in the park

Or, at least, that is what it feels like as I sit here on a very autumnal afternoon, eight hours away from the start of the 2011 NFL season.

If you are reading this in the US, you can't begin to imagine what a different experience it is to follow football from the UK. There are parallels, of course, but it isn't quite the same. Whilst you have been sweating over the lockout, we have been two.

The difference is that you have had as much media coverage as you want of it, and we have had far too little. In fact, whilst most of the newspapers here have mentioned the fact that the season proper begins today, many of them took that opportunity to mention the lockout for the first time, too.

Imagine, also, being in a world where you get a choice of only five live games per week (unless you buy the NFL Game Pass, which is at least available over here), and to see one of those requires you to stay up throughout the night on a weeknight.

As for actual news, forget it. There is an hour of news a day, but it is the news screened in the US the day before. By the time it screens, I've read everything online anyway.

OK, there's a bit more analysis, but not a lot more and, frankly, once you've read into a story hearing some ex-pro waffling on about it is just annoying.

In fact, following the NFL from here is very much a virtual existence. You virtually experience the games, you virtually experience the fallout from them, you virtually experience the buildup to the next match and you virtually get the same game day experience when the International Series game comes to Wembley at the end of October. None of which explains why I so regularly kick the butts of the US residents in my fantasy league.

Despite all of the difficulties, though, it is still wonderful. There is no sport on the planet like football, no league like the NFL. It'll be 1.30am here when the Packers and Saints kick off and I've got two different jobs to go to tomorrow, but I wouldn't miss that moment for the world.

England, are you ready for some footbaaaaallllllll?

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