Along with being Super Bowl Champions, the New York Giants are also World Champions. Champions of the world. In a league where the only contact with the outside world are token games in Canada and the UK, it can be viewed ironic that we classify the Giants right now as World Champions. Indeed, many of my friends mock this concept. I'm an avid fan and I mock this concept.
To be true World Champions you have to beat teams from outside one nation. It has to be an international sport. Soccer, rugby, track and field, even basketball can create World Champions. These sports are established around the world; something the NFL is not. You may hear about talk of franchises being created in London or Toronto, but it's only a pipedream. Mr Goodell can not yet see the proverbial light at the end of tunnel. NFL Europe had to be disbanded for heaven's sake. The CFL, despite discovering players such as Cameron Wake is not viewed as a serious league either. The NFL it seems is the last bastion of isolationism.
But the walls are coming down, and I'll finally get to the point of why I'm writing this. Last night on the main British sports radio channel, There was an hour long programme previewing the NFL season. Much of it was what I was expecting; talking about the Bounty Scandal and the Saints chances of success this year, how dominant the Patriots seem to be. The Lions bytheway got one solitary mention - even the Bills got more airtime, though no surprise it was about Mario Williams and their new super 'D'. What caught my attention though was an interview it had. With Ray Lewis. As the analysts kept on saying, one of the best linebacker's to ever play the game.
There was nothing groundbreaking in the interview, but it showed to me that the NFL is growing outside of the States. You have a HoF linebacker conducting a half hour interview with a British reporter. You have talk of expanding the number of games being played in London, with the Jaguars scheduled to play a game there each year from 2013 through to 2016. An NFL team in London seems to be a genuine hope. On a smaller scale, I'm entering a fantasy league with people from my old school for the second year running. The NFL is growing abroad, it is establishing a base of supporters that it never used to have. It is still not a top 5 sport in the UK, but it's certainly closing in on breaking into this group. The idea that it's a boring version of rugby no longer exists. Sky TV shows a Sunday evening game each week, whilst one of the terrestrial channels shows each Sunday night game (one other bonus of watching UK coverage is I don't have to watch all of your ads about Coors beer, pick-up trucks and viagra).
I apologise that I have only mentioned the Lions once. In all honesty I haven't had any chance to watch them play, and so am woefully lacking on knowledge of our prospects now the preseason is over. Peter King has been the only connection I've had over the summer with the NFL. I'm glad to be back in time, I've missed football. And I'll be one of many across the pond tuning in to watch men in big pads and tight shorts beat the crap out of each other.