Its now over week since the Jets arrived in London to face off with the Miami Dolphins at Wembley. Now that its all over, the win is in the bag and everyone is back home, it’s time to reflect on what was an amazing weekend to be a Jets fan in the UK. For me last weekend was one of the best sporting events of my life, pushing the 2012 Olympics close! It wasn’t just the game, but the whole experience from Friday onwards where I was privileged to have access to events and meeting people I still can’t quite believe!
There are many highlights of the weekend. Attending the Jets practice and press conferences was the first of many ‘pinch me’ moments; chatting to GM Mike Maccagnan and Nick Mangold, watching Todd Bowles and the player’s press conferences as well as standing on the side line while the team ran various drills to name a few. I knew that the players were big, but standing right next to guys like Leonard Williams makes that an understatement.The surreal moments continued on Saturday as I took to the Fan Rally in Trafalgar Square to interview Jets fans on camera for the New York Jets website and TV show ‘Jetlife’ which is broadcast on CBS NY. Being out of my comfort zone was certainly putting it mildly but it gave me the opportunity to meet Jets fans from the UK, Ireland, further afield in Europe and many who had travelled from the US, all with interesting stories of their fandom.
Being an NFL fan in the UK can be quite a lonely experience often confined to interactions with fellow enthusiasts on social networks. I’m lucky that I live with a huge fan of the game and NFL network is perpetually on our TV but I rarely come across people in my day to day life who have any interest in or knowledge of the game. Going back to work on Monday, still buzzing after the game was certainly an anti climax. “Who is it you support?” I was asked, to looks of puzzled confusion. Therefore, while last weekend was full of amazing experiences, my number one highlight, aside from the Jets winning (of course), was meeting fellow fans and being able to spend time with people who share my enthusiasm for the NFL and the Jets.
Jets pub, where Jets fan took over The Admiralty in Trafalgar Square was filled all weekend with fans of the Green and White from all over the world, eating, drinking and chanting together (led on Friday night by the infamous Fireman Ed).
Across the weekend I was able to finally meet fellow fans who I speak with on social media and write for too, from the UK, Ireland and USA. It was also quite bizarre to walk around outside Wembley and be asked “Are you Nikki?” from people who follow me on Twitter.
A number of the US fans, were understandably a little disappointed by some UK Jets fans, especially those waving Dolphin’s flags! For some, this will have been their first experience of the NFL and I’m just glad they chose to buy a Green hat instead of a Miami one. The game is growing here and while there are many die-hard fans like myself, we still have a long way to go. That’s why I am so grateful for the time spent with the fantastic fans I met, to chat about the game and team we love, and feel part of a real Jets community. Special mention to Dave, my http://www.turnonthejets.com co-writer, Biff & Rich from No Fly Zone Radio, Jason from http://www.nyjetsfans.com (and Fireman Ed) Sean, Marty and the other Jets UK Twitter guys and of course Alex, Jason, Mel, LaCresha, Siri and Karolina.
So Thank you to the New York Jets for squishing the fish at Wembley, but even more to the great fans of the team who made last weekend the amazing experience it was. Hopefully I’ll be seeing lots of you soon…