Sorry, Brits, but Giants-Dolphins was typical NFL
With Sunday's Giants-Dolphins game in London, the NFL supplied Europe with a representative sample of ugly football, Seth Wickersham writes.
WEMBLEY, England -- Pints were raised all over London this weekend in celebration of the long-awaited American football match. It was a coming-out party with a Super Bowl feel. This was the NFL's chance -- our chance as Americans, really -- to show the U.K. up close what all the fuss is about, why professional football is America's game and why it could be so much more.
And it wasn't hard to find a pub mate around town to toast to that with.But sadly, a game had to be played Sunday. Sadly, 81,176 spectators at Wembley had to sit through a 13-10 New York Giants win, complete with such league staples as a, uh, Cleo Lemon comeback attempt. And as the fans began to leave for the Underground back to London with three minutes left, you could hear exactly what the Yanks were howling: This isn't the real NFL! Quarterbacks usually complete passes! It's not this bad on every Sunday, I swear! Well, guess what? We should quit trying to save face. If this game's goal was to take the temperature of European fans, then the NFL supplied a representative sample. What we saw is what the NFL is like nowadays. There are a lot of mediocre teams, and it's not always easy to tell the difference between the probable playoff teams (6-2 Giants) versus the 0-8 ones (Miami Dolphins). If you felt sorry for the fans at Wembley Stadium, then you have to feel sorry for the fans who pack any NFL stadium not named Gillette or RCA. After all, nothing changed but the venue and the kickoff time.
A look at the Giants-Dolphins game in London, from the stands to the action on the field. Photos
The Dolphins technically were the home team, with their logo painted in each penalty kick area ... er, end zone. But it wasn't a pro-Dolphins crowd. On hand was a pro-NFL crowd -- there were as many Chad Johnson jerseys as Dan Marino ones -- eager for the type of electric passing, crafty running and unrelenting defense that only a few teams are capable of playing.Instead, London got 67 combined net passing yards in the first half. Instead, London got a winning quarterback who completed 36 percent of his passes. Instead, London got Miami's bread-and-butter passing play, which Sunday was a short out route to backup tight end Justin Peelle.
Goodell could have sent over any team except the Colts and the Pats, and the game probably wouldn't have been marginally different. When you have a salary cap and parity and a host of injuries to semi-marquee players, there is no Premier League. There's only this, for 55 pounds a seat.So, cheers to that.
Seth Wickersham is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and a columnist for ESPN.com. For Wick's picks, click here.
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