Hot on the heels of basketball and ice hockey, the third of America's big four sports has begun its landing on our shores. The advance guard for Sunday's NFL encounter between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants consists of just one man. Albeit a very big one. Pictured above is the specially commissioned twenty-six foot high animatronic statue of Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor which is touring London and the South East advertising that professional gridiron is coming to town. You can catch Big JT at Canary Wharf today, Victoria Station tomorrow and Thursday and the shopping malls of Bluewater on Friday and Lakeside on Saturday.
He's definitely not trying to whip up interest in last minute ticket sales, though. The game sold out some time ago as hundreds of thousands of people pre-registered interest in around 80,000 tickets. However, for those searching for one last chance to grab hold of a precious place at the first "proper" regular season match to be staged outside of the Americas, there is one last lifeline. Speaking on channel Five earlier today, the head of NFL UK, Alistair Kirkwood, revealed that returns from the staff of the two clubs, amounting to a few hundred tickets, would go on sale either this Wednesday or Thursday morning at 10am. Check breaking news at www.nfluk.com for full details.
As it's a full game with much at stake the Dolphins and Giants are not taking the occasion lightly. Both teams fly in on Friday morning, play on Sunday and leave on Monday, emerging into the public gaze only for practice on Friday afternoon, "walkthroughs" at Wembley on Saturday and the game itself. The Dolphins will be running their Friday drills at the Wasps’s rugby union training ground in Twyford Road, Acton, at 2 p.m, while the Giants will be going through their motions at Chelsea's "soccer" facilities in Cobham, Surrey around the same time.
With the players largely unavailable, it's left to their cheerleaders, arriving in the capital today, to provide a human presence for the teams this week. The Giants' girls will be performing tonight at Selhurst Park where Stoke City are the visitors for new manager Neil Warnock's first home game in charge. We're imagining when someone told them they'd be stepping more or less straight off the plane to be performing at the Palace all complaints about jet lag vanished from their minds. A chilly night in front of slightly startled looking Championship afficionados may come as a bit of an eye opener in various ways.
Read our report on the event itself here.
Photo via Andrew*'s Flickr stream.