Saturday, October 22, 2016

In which I keep a promise and New York's team becomes London's team

Some of you that know me personally, or that have read this blog, may recall that I have a sister currently residing across the pond in London, England. Many more of you probably know that this weekend, the New York Giants are following her so they can take on the Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham Stadium. Lastly, there is a specific cross-section of you that know two and a half years ago, when my sister moved to London, I made her one promise.

"If the Giants play in London while you live there, I will fly to England and visit you the weekend of the game."

Some of you (probably none of you) may remember 10 months ago when I detailed the complicated and uncomfortable ("Fly Eagles, Fly?") process that led to this point, but the gist of it is, on Wednesday morning, I arrived at London-Gatwick International Airport, and on Sunday afternoon (though I suppose it'll be morning for the rest of you), I will be in the stands at Twickers watching Big Blue take on whatever team the Rams feel like being this week. I was never really sure that this day would come considering I thought me rooting for the Eagles last December was a sign of the apocalypse -- at least until I realized the apocalypse was still 10 months away.

It should certainly be an interesting weekend and I've heard rumor of how bizarre these matchups can be. My brother-in-law, who is a Giants fan and will be attending with me, has been to a few of these London games before only to find that the crowd is strangely unenthused as they view the spectacle with more curiosity than intensity, and they also wear whatever NFL jersey they happen to have lying around. That is to say that the Giants and Rams may be the only teams on the field, but I will almost certainly see Jaguars and Seahawks paraphernalia popping up in the crowd.

That is to be expected, however, I have a feeling the Giants will have a better showing than the average London visitor. For one, New York being as close as it is to London, the flight is a relatively quick jaunt compared to other past London participants like San Diego, New Orleans or, in this year's case, Los Angeles. By comparison, I've seen the Giants play in both San Francisco and San Diego, two locations that are only marginally closer to New York than London despite being in the same country. For another, New York has a significant number of ex-pats in London and Giants games are typically played at times that aren't too inconvenient for a New York transplant in the UK to watch, 6 pm or 9 pm local time.

Lastly, the Giants have a few connections with London that, known or unknown, might pull the two closer than you might think. The Giants did win the first regular season game ever played in the city, but there is another more curious (really tangential) connection afoot. Only four British-born players have been a part of a Super Bowl-winning roster. Two of them are practice squad players lost to time if they were ever remembered in the first place (though if you're curious they are Marvin Allen and Scott McCready). The other two were pivotal parts of the Giants' recent run of glory, defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who now works as an NFL commentator for the BBC, and kicker Lawrence Tynes, who is the only person in NFL history with two overtime postseason field goals, each of which, sent the Giants to the Super Bowl.

Obviously, in my fantasy reality, the choice here is clear. I don't see how Londoners could see it any other way than to pull for a franchise from a similar locale that has actually won two Super Bowls with British-born players performing pivotal roles. I realize that to know these facts would require a level of football savvy most Brits probably have no desire to cultivate, but, the reasons are there, and if any Brits in the stands need advisement I will be should to help with that. In fact, knowing me, I imagine I'll bring that up multiple times during the game tomorrow.

I'm sure the Brits will appreciate that.

NFL Picks Week Seven
Last week: 6-7-2
Season: 43-47-3

GREEN BAY (-7.5) over Chicago
NY Giants (-2.5) over LOS ANGELES
CINCINNATI (-10) over Cleveland
DETROIT (even) over Washington
Indianapolis (+2.5) over TENNESSEE
KANSAS CITY (-6.5) over New Orleans
Buffalo (-3) over MIAMI
Baltimore (even) over NY JETS
Minnesoata (-2.5) over PHILADELPHIA
JACKSONVILLE (-1) over Oakland
San Diego (+6.5) over ATLANTA
SAN FRANCISCO (+2) over Tampa Bay
PITTSBURGH (+7) over New England
ARIZONA (-2) over Seattle
DENVER (-7) over Houston

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