As it’s the offseason and everything at the moment is really just speculation, I thought I’d use my blog to address some slightly different NFL based topics. To start with, to answer a question I’ve been asked on Twitter by a number of people; how on earth did I come to love the NFL so much and to be a fan of the New York Jets? I guess it’s a fair question, considering that for many people in the UK, American Football is still seen as a niche sport and the fact that I’m female which puts me amongst an even smaller group of fans. The Jets are probably not the most obvious choice of team either.
Firstly I’m a sports fan in general. Growing up in Yorkshire, you couldn’t help but be. Leeds United and Yorkshire cricket were my first sporting loves. In fact my first taste as a sports fan was at the ripe old age of 8 when Leeds won division one in 1991-92. Sadly, in terms of success on the part of teams I’ve backed, it’s pretty much gone downhill from there. I get drawn into every Olympic games, athletics championship, tennis tournament and even from time to time Open Golf or darts. I watch everything from diving to dressage. I’m also not content with knowing a little, if I get into something, I make it my business to learn as much as I can about it.
By the time American Football came into my life, when I met my future husband (a 49ers fan from a young age) in 2007, my love affair with soccer was well and truly over. To be honest, I was (and still am) fed up with the culture of the game, had enough of the attitude of many fans at games, having to pretend I’m not English in Cardiff and the sheer intimidating atmosphere created at many Premier League grounds. As a new inductee to the NFL, I needed to choose a team, and it sure wasn’t going to be the 49ers!
NFL fans in the UK choose their teams in very different ways without the luxury of the local allegiance our US counterparts have, NFL UK even have a random team selector for those new to the game. Many were lured to the 49ers, Steelers, Cowboys and Raiders by their successes in the 1980s and 90s, chronicled on Channel 4. Recently the Patriots, Colts and Saints have seen a spike in UK support due to their Superbowl successes and the much wider TV coverage.
I’d like to say that my choice was based on much research and a deep sporting compunction but in fact my decision was a little more random, in fact I’m slightly embarrassed to say it had nothing at all to do with football. In some respects it was a simple choice; New York has long been my favourite city in the US (in fact, the world) and I never looked beyond the Big Apple teams. So the choice was Jets or Giants. After booking a honeymoon stop in NYC I found out that the both teams were scheduled to play the first ever game at what was then the ‘New Meadowlands’ stadium, in August 2010, at the exact time we were there. Knowing nothing about the NFL, least of all how to get tickets, I decided to email both teams to find out. Only one replied; the Jets, and as they say, the rest is history. I’ve been Green and White since. I surprised my husband with tickets to the game as a wedding present (great wife points!) and we took the trip out to New Jersey to watch the Jets. I’ve been hooked since despite them losing that day! The personality of Rex Ryan and what he inspired, the successes of the following two seasons and the general bombastic attitude of the team meant that over the following years I have become completely obsessed with my Jets despite the recent ups and downs. If you ever see me at Wembley, I’m the one who looks like a Jets merchandise stand exploded on me, and I’ve taken a fair amount of stick for it across the last few years! Sure, I’m yet to savour the taste of true Jets success but I’m confident that the day will come and I’ll keep wearing my wings with pride.
Safe to say, back in 2010, I had no idea what was going on but since then, 6 trips to Wembley, a Sky Sports subscription, numerous podcasts and a trip back to NYC in 2014 to finally watch a regular season Jets game, I’d like to think my knowledge and more importantly my love for my team and the game has come on somewhat!
Sadly, I’ve never seen my Jets win so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that will change at Wembley in October.