As we mentioned earlier in the week, if you can make it to Trafalgar Square tonight you can watch the film “Jerry Maguire” for free and catch a live interview with it’s Oscar-winning star, Cuba Gooding Jr. It’s the first major event of the weekend leading up to Sunday’s NFL clash at Wembley and it will run from 6pm to 9pm. Cuba will introduce the film before fielding questions during the slightly unexpected but wholly in keeping with the subject matter half-time interval. Terrell Owens, one of the current game’s most famous players, was due to make an appearance, too, but he has had to pull out and has been replaced by a genuine playing legend from a few years ago, Marshall Faulk.
Trafalgar Square will also be the venue for an NFL party all afternoon on Saturday from noon to 5pm with lots of entertainment and appearances from current team members and the coaches of both the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Last year’s version of this attracted more than 30,000 fans, so make sure you allow plenty of time if you’re going along and maybe take that helmet and pads with you, too.
The game itself kicks off at 6pm at Wembley Stadium on Sunday evening and your ticket would also grant you entry to the extensive pre-match entertainment known as the Tailgate party. Once inside the stadium, we already mentioned that the Goo Goo Dolls were this year’s musical warm-up to the big match, but we now also know that God Save the Queen will be sung by the redoubtable Katherine Jenkins, who it is hoped will not indulge in any of the dramatic pauses which so ensnared Joss Stone a few years back ,while the US anthem honours go to Metropolitan Opera tenor Noah Stewart who should be a good bet to go “under the spread” in the “number of gratuitous notes in the Star Spangled Banner” stakes.
Looking to the future, we’re delighted to hear that the NFL owners recently voted to continue games in London for the next five years with the option to play more than one per season. The Buccaneers have already returned, so maybe more clubs want to follow suit. A second “proper” game in a season would be the realisation of a major landmark on the way to the dream of having our own NFL team here in the UK, an aim espoused by some of our MPs who this week formed the All-Party Parliamentary Group for American Football. Chairman Richard Fuller said:
“There is strong support for American football within Westminster and a group of us felt that we should get more involved in developing the sport here at both the amateur and professional levels. We will be working closely with the British American Football Association, NFL and other organisations to promote and increase official recognition of American football within the UK sporting landscape. We hope to be able to develop participation in the sport at grassroots level, create opportunities for British players to reach their full potential in the sport and support the pathway to having eventually a UK-based NFL team.”