NFL at Niketown London
The NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars took over Niketown, London, one rainy Tuesday evening to win over fans and bring some of that American Football magic to England. The UK isn’t a stranger anymore to the glitz and glamour of the NFL, having staged a number of games at Wembley over the past few years. Now the Jaguars have the pleasure of having Wembley Stadium as their official home away from home until 2016, they brought our current and past players on a charm offensive to win over some much needed support.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have the worst record in the NFL, abysmally standing at 0-7-0. However, we can’t help but feel that’ll help them gain some much needed love from the British crowd because, for some crazy reason, we all love an underdog. This weekend they come up against the San Francisco 49ers, whose record over the past two years is the polar opposite. The Jaguars picked up the gear and flew over after yet another bad defeat, this time to the Chargers. Probably a good thing, giving them all a chance to get away from home and enjoy near anonymity amongst the thronging crowds of tourists in Central London where most wouldn’t even be able to pick them out of a line-up. However, they were all rallying together, showing a great team spirit and brought some American sporting spirit to the crowds at Niketown.
In between all of the Nike footwear, we sat down with 6ft 3, 160kg Defensive End Tyson Alualu, because standing with him is embarrassing. This man has been with the Jaguars since being their first round draft pick back in 2010, signing a 5 year deal, and shares a record for starts in his rookie season. He has matured quickly, has a level head and is an intimidating defensive player, which belies his typically good natured banter and welcoming friendliness. If he could ask anything from being in London this week, it is that they can get the fans behind the team. It is an odd situation having a home away from home where you might not even have the backing from the crowd, and so he admitted that, really, they want the lion’s (jaguar’s) share of the fans this weekend to spur the team on to really turn their season around.
What a great situation that would be, for the Jaguars to raise their heads, play out of the skins and put the hurt onto the 49ers, especially in London. That is exactly what Tyson said he wants, although he knows it isn’t going to be easy, admitting that the 49ers were favourites for a reason. How can this be achieved? Well, Tyson himself has spent a lot of time reviewing tapes and getting his game plan ready, also adapting to the outside and his new position. As a team, the Jaguars have been working a lot on drills that get them working together. Its very much the case with the Jaguars that the team isn’t full of talent or bright sparks who can take them through a game. Instead, they’ll have to pull together to play brilliantly and win, or averagely and grind out results, but playing poorly will cost them – quite evident at the moment.
But being in London is just as special for the players as it is for the fans. Tyson spent the day out with his team mates and their wives, taking in the sights and doing some shopping. They spurned the chance to hop a ride on the London Eye because the queue was too long though. If their work in the UK improves, no doubt the queue will part for them in future (without having to charge down the line). We do love a good queue here in England, about as much as we love our rugby. How could I not ask Tyson about rugby?!
Does he feel embarrassed that he wears padding to play his game and yet rugby players don’t? No, he doesn’t at all. I imagine he is probably grateful, machismo to one side. As an American Football player, is he even aware of rugby? One of our favourite sports isn’t well known across the pond after all. Tyson has seen it on TV before, but never had the chance to go to a game, so we insisted that he take the opportunity whilst he is here to go and do just that, then report back to us about the padding question.
Well, whatever your opinion of the NFL and American Football, you cannot deny it has a certain star attraction, a real flair for entertaining and it inspires great support from its fans across the globe. Make sure you get behind your team of choice this weekend. The venue, Niketown, was the perfect location to meet some of NFL stars and legends. The store’s ground floor has had a refit to split the shop in half, one side dedicated to the Jaguars, the other the 49ers, in a mirror effect. Nike are behind the surprisingly technological jerseys the team wears. They’ve got specific high ventilation areas, drifit fabric, lightweight printing so that even the names and numbers don’t hinder performance. However, its not just about performance, as I am unlike to be bombing up and down a pitch in one – its also about supporting your team. So grab an NFL jersey from Nike, and get ready for the game! Alternatively, we fell in love with the 49ers branded and coloured Nike Dunk Hi’s…