SBD/Issue 33/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Giants, Dolphins To Play In Front Of Mostly European Crowd

Taylor Feels Game In London Is
Smart Business Move For NFL
There will be “no more than 10,000 traveling fans” at Sunday’s Giants-Dolphins game in London, meaning that the remaining 70,000 or so will be “home grown -- or at least Europe grown,” according to Gabby Logan (LONDON TIMES, 10/26). In a Q&A with the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, Dolphins DE Jason Taylor said playing a regular-season game in London is a “smart move business-wise. It puts a little strain on teams and organizations, but I think in the long run expanding the brand and shield of the NFL around the globe is important.” Asked his thoughts on the 26-foot animatronic statue bearing his likeness that is being used to promote the game in London, Taylor said, “It resembles me, but I think I’m a little better looking than it is” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/26). Giants LB Mathias Kiwanuka said, “We’re definitely ambassadors of the league and we want to put on a show” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/26).

GOING ABROAD: NFL VP/Marketing & Sales and Int'l Senior VP Mark Waller beginning in five years would "like every team to play one game outside the U.S. every season." Waller: “It’s a personal view of mine; it’s not an ownership view. We haven’t formally addressed that.” Dolphins Owner Wayne Huizenga said of the league staging a Super Bowl overseas, “If you’re really talking about going global, you’re really going to introduce the game to a lot of people, that might be one way to do it. I’m not saying it’s going to happen. Certainly there are negatives, but there could be more positives.” Giants Chair & Exec VP Steve Tisch said the league, through Sunday’s game, is “going to learn a lot about marketing, about fan response, about press response. This game certainly is going to be a curiosity”  (PALM BEACH POST, 10/26).  More Tisch: "I think the league has been pleased with the reaction we have had and there will be a lot of conversation on Monday. I expect that it will be to the effect that this has been a tremendous first step. Another barometer is what this means to London” (LONDON TIMES, 10/26). Patriots CEO Robert Kraft said of bringing a regular-season game to London, “We realized in the end that to make it successful, we had to bring real games here.” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, “We couldn’t do that (play overseas). And wouldn’t do that. We just have too much commitment. We’re building a new stadium. And so that just wouldn’t work for us.” But Huizenga said Jones "may not have a choice. Because when the NFL votes, he will have to go. And if we do what we’re talking about doing -- playing two games a year outside the U.S. -- every team will have to go,” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/25). 

HOW IT'S PLAYING IN LONDON: BBC Dir of Sport Roger Mosey said, “I wouldn’t pretend that the nation is absolutely engrossed by Dolphins against Giants. But it is something that has got capacity to grow in the UK” (ESPN, 10/25).  In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde notes the Dolphins are in London “because of what the NFL says are thousands” of the team’s fans. The mid-'80s Super Bowl appearances and Pro Football HOFer Dan Marino "won a country that a technologically flattened world might now conquer” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/26). In a USA TODAY sports section Cover Story, Sky Sports announcer Nick Halling, who has covered the NFL and its European leagues for 25 years, said London is the “best choice to kick off the [NFL's new int'l] strategy, although Germany has had more and longer-lasting teams in the NFL’s European leagues.” Halling said in England, there is a "solid (base) of American football fans. They are quite sophisticated. Germany attracts fans to games, but for them it’s more of an excuses to have a fun night out.” USA TODAY's Jeffrey Stinson notes there will be “31 booths inside and outside Wembley Stadium selling hats, jerseys and other NFL merchandise.”  British bookmaker Ladbrokes says that wagering on NFL games is "on the rise because of the games seen on Sky Sports.” Ladbrokes spokesperson Nick Weinberg said that interest in Sunday’s game is “up by 10%-15% over Sunday games being played in the US.” But he noted wagering on the NFL is “barely a fifth of what Britons bet on Premier League soccer matches” (USA TODAY, 10/26). British American Football Association Whole Sport Plan Manager Ken Walters said, “The Wembley game is going to have a massive impact. I was talking with a guy from the stadium the other day about our input and the conversation began: 'Oh, there are teams – great, where can I go to play?'” (LONDON TIMES, 10/26). However, in London, Robert Philip, referring to former Bears DT William Perry, writes, “Any spectacle in which a 6ft 2in, 326lb block of lard can become a superstar is, to these eyes, a freak-show rather than a sporting contest” (London TELEGRAPH, 10/26).  

PAPER WEIGHT: The major British papers gave a good bit of editorial build-up to the game, which broke through coverage of soccer, F1 and other sports to garner top story-type treatment.  Pieces ranged from conversations with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, to a writer discussing his disdain for American football, to a piece on grassroots football on the island nation. Many papers on Thursday offered content on Dolphins practice squad WR Marvin Allen. Today’s coverage was more in-depth, with pieces speculating on whether Kraft could potentially seek a Premier League team and whether Premier League teams will follow the NFL’s lead and play regular-season games in places like Asia.  There have also been stories discussing such topics as injuries to key players (Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown), Super Bowl histories of each franchise, and even Don Shula’s feelings about the current state of the Dolphins. None of the articles appeared in the business sections of the respective papers, and most were placed toward the back of sports sections under the “U.S. Sports” section online (THE DAILY).

BACK IN THE STATES: The Dolphins are calling Sunday “Double Decker Day” at Dolphin Stadium, where they will show the game on the jumbo screens. Admission and parking are free and there will be a festival with British food, drink and music, as well as British celebrity impersonators (MIAMI HERALD, 10/26).

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