KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: American football, if it wants to expand its reach in Britain, should beware the hints of complacency which lurked around the edges of the latest Wembley special.
A tense and entertaining 27-27 tie between Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins made history as the first overtime clash in the 10-year history of the NFL International Series. a game which included its 100th touchdown.
The usual capacity crowd of 84,488 enjoyed the four hours of ebb and flow drama while possibly being been bemused by some awful and decisive goal-kicking attempts by Dustin Hopkins and Mike Nugent.
If the National Football League wants to not only bring in but retain new fans then it needs to tighten up on certain aspects of the staging which ‘went missing’.
Point of sale spots for the walk-up promotion of merchandise and programmes were missing and the staffing and speed of service at refreshment counters inside the stadium was reported as inadequate in a number of venues around the concourses.
The in-game presentation also needs sharpening.
Explanations and reminders of how overtime works were inadequate for ‘newbies’ while long-time fans would have wanted far more of the game-break touchline analyses than a repetitious stream of banalities about how “crazy” was the atmosphere.
British sports fans have been educated by their broadcasters to expect far better.
While talk continues to circulate about a regular NFL presence in the UK – which appears in reality to mean only London – no one has yet projected a fixtures formula which works in tandem with a major soccer stadium (soccer, by the way, is an old English term for association football and not an Americanism).
The Super Bowl would be more than welcome one day at Wembley but talk of regular games at Tottenham’s new stadium (or elsewhere) has yet to explain how NFL teams can be accommodated in a busy Premier/Champions-Leagues schedule.
Preaching to the converted is not enough if the NFL wishes to spread its sporting and commercial wings this side of the pond.