Last October's clash between the Miami Dolphins and Superbowl contenders the New York Giants at Wembley was obviously considered a success as the NFL's commissioner, Roger Goodell, has announced that another regular season encounter will take place on our shores in the autumn... but not necessarily at Wembley, or even in London. Goodell said:
The game in London was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the entire 2007 season. The fan interest was tremendous. The passion they demonstrated for our sport that day continued throughout the season, as television viewership in the UK has grown by 40 percent since the game.
Given our own experience of the evening and the reaction from the US in the days afterwards we're surprised neither at the decision to return to a country that ticks many NFL boxes nor, sadly, at the possibility that they may try a new venue given the relentless drizzle and skiddy surface that hampered the aggressive, sharp turning playing style required in gridiron. We hope they will give Wembley a second chance, or maybe try the more readily adaptable rugby venue at Twickenham, but we wouldn't be surprised if they opted to bask in the comparative warmth under the closed roof at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Initially we thought the Chicago Bears, who achieved cult popularity over here after playing at the old Wembley in the mid-1980s, would be a logical second "home" team for the UK, but breaking news coming out of the States suggests that a shortlist of four clubs for our 2008 fixture contains the much less evocative names of the Kansas City Chiefs, the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks, but is more logically headed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the American sports plaything of those well-established owners of Manchester United, the Glazers.
Picture via JonHall's Flickr stream.
The Buffalo Bills, meanwhile, are seeking to open up another international front by playing a home game in Canada which makes sense given their proximity to that border. We know all the NFL teams are committed to playing abroad at least once in the next few years, but we felt the East coast teams were more likely to get the European trips.
Just as the many Dolphins fans in this country joyfully welcomed their heroes to Blighty, the strong fanbase for the Giants' undefeated Superbowl opponents, the New England Patriots, nurses hopes that the powers that be might send Tom Brady and the guys to play here. The New York Jets, however, currently licking their wounds after another tough season, might be more ready to see if they can attract some of the magic dust that seems to have rubbed off on their city neighbours.