NFL International Series: New York Jets at Miami Dolphins – Wembley , London – October 4th 2015
The last time I went to see an NFL match was when the Miami Dolphins lost to the New York Giants back in 2007. Then we had a baby and my mind drifted from live NFL matches and onto nappy changes and so on. Fast forward a few years and I totally missed the Dolphins beating the Oakland Raiders in 2014 – in person that is, I saw it on TV. I could have gone to see other games, but as a 30 year Dolphins fan they are my team of preference to see live. This year it was the New York Jets who were set to take on the Dolphins at Wembley, and I got tickets when they first went on sale for my Dad and I. Being the weekend of his 70th birthday it seemed rather fitting, given that it was him who I first started watching NFL with back in 1985.
The day before the game I got an email telling us about the Fan Plaza which would have events going on in the Wembley grounds and would start at 9.25am. So that meant a second parking ticket had to be booked, as the first one only allowed me to park from midday. Oh well, such is life, and these opportunities don’t come along very often – once a year in fact. Once there we queued for some merchandise, a rare opportunity to get Miami Dolphins gear in person and not online, where you risk getting the sizes completely wrong. One hoody, cap, programme and mini helmet later and it was off to the NFL Lab, to jump, throw, run and block. All stats would be entered on their system and sent back to the Fan Pass app that we used at various points during the day to give people access to our details, err, I mean participate fully in the activities.
More queuing for merchandise came after pizza and drinks, and this time I came away with a keyring, lanyard and t-shirt – didn’t want to risk getting home and regretting not buying anything. Our seats were right at the top on the Dolphins goal line, but the view was fantastic and we could see every play, which as a Dolphins fan that day wasn’t necessarily a positive thing. Growing up a Dan Marino fan it’s unfair to compare subsequent Dolphins quarterbacks, but Ryan Tannehill is not making much of a name for himself in his own right. It doesn’t help that his offensive line left him unprotected for most of the game, so gave him very little time to make any decent plays. Under pressure he did throw two great passes, but for the most part it was all the Jets, and the 27-14 scoreline is a bit flattering to the Dolphins. Hats off to Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick who threw a 40 yard pass to Brandon Marshall which ended up being a 68 yard play, their first of the game!
Result aside, it was a fantastic day and one that both my Dad and I both enjoyed immensely. It’s not just a game of American Football, as the pageantry of the whole day makes it feel more like a festival. The NFL bring so much to London for these games and we only scratched the surface, and I’m very glad I queued 30 minutes to get my photo taken with the 1972 and 1973 Superbowl trophies – could be a while before we see one of those in the Dolphins locker room again.
At first my Dad was a bit unsure of the stop start nature of the game, but he soon got into it and has agreed to be my NFL buddy to any future games I go to. As well as being a great day, it renewed my enthusiasm for NFL to levels I’ve not had since the early 1990s. NFL Now and a variety NFL podcasts allow me to be all consumed in the latest goings on, while I consider the possibility of getting NFL Game Pass. The new weekly BBC round up show starts in early November, so I have that to look forward to, and with the International Series being extended until 2025, there’s a lot to be excited about as an NFL fan in the UK.