That's an incredible experience to have had! So what tips would you give to fans wanting to visit multiple stadiums on a budget?
A: I would say don't be afraid of Motels, they are fine. I'd also recommend you travel with a friend to spread the costs of fixed things like accomodation and gas.
You quoted Bob Papa in your book, where he says ‘kick-off: as the action begins I feel like a kid ripping through the wrapping paper of a present. Each NFL game represents a different present for me’. Did you find it difficult reverting back to normality? By that I mean did watching the games back in the UK from a screen, often late at night, not seem quite as magical as it did before you went on your trip, or did you find your experience added to the magic of watching the games?
A: I even noticed that during the games. If I wasn't at, say, a Monday Night Football game and I was watching it on TV, it felt oddly strange. Now I am able to watch games on both the TV and adjust, but yes coming back to 'reality' was strange because I spent so much time on the road. Even reading something non-football related was odd!
You mentioned earlier that Green Bay fans were very welcoming. Does that mean that despite being notorious Bears rivals, you found yourself falling a little bit in love with their infamous cheesehead fan base?
A: Oh for sure. If i wasn't a Bears fan I would have ended up being a Packers fan coming out of the trip. The rivalry is not as heated as people think. In fact, Packers fans make more fun of Vikings fans. I think the Bears-Packers rivalry is more of a brotherly one. I've been to three Packers-Bears games now (one in Chicago and two in Green Bay) and there was never any aggression between the fans.
At the start of your book, you described the difference between English and American Football in a way that I think we were all able to relate to and agree with. By that I mean the boarding up of houses versus the opening up of front lawns. Would English sport be better served adopting an NFL pre-game culture?
A: Oh yes, absolutely.I feel that because of our history with hooliganism in soccer, many other sporting games get tarnished with the same brush and if you treat people like children, they will tend to act like children. I think we are seeing a shift at NFL games where just a few weeks ago at Twickenham Stadium International Series Games, the tailgating areas were left open for almost two hours after the games, to allow fans to stay on longer with friends and watch the Sky Sports Red Zone. That's a huge shift from ten years ago, when everyone was forced to leave Wembley almost immediately after the game.
Finally, with the NFL on the rise in the UK, and over six million fans, which directions would you like to see it take? Do you feel a franchise would work well over here, or are you concerned about the logistics?
A: The logistics will certainly be a barrier. I love the growth of the game here, not just from the National Football League side of things, but the female games, children playing and so on. I now coach at Oxford University and our team are growing all the time. I'm not sure that a franchise in London will be the same as going to games out in the States, especially from a tailgate point of view, London games do a great fan zone, but a real American tailgate experience is just magical.
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