A Brady sandwich with added Dolphin

One of the major differences between US and UK sports is the mixed fan experience. It’s something I’ve struggled to adapt to when attending Dolphins games, because it’s just so different to everything we’re accustomed to as Brits.

Attending Liverpool games for 25 years at home and away, those co-ed experiences don’t come along too often. There might be the occasional exchange outside the ground or a jovial pint in the pubs, but never when we’re playing rivals. For example, the only time you see Manchester United fans outside Anfield is when the police are marching them in from the train station. It’s the same when we go there. 

So attending the New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins season opener on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium brought both excitement and trepidation. Excitement because the NFL was back and I just love the game day experience; the tailgating, tossing the football around, grilling, daytime drinking, the Americana pageantry and, oh yeah, the football.  

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The more things change the more they stay the same

After all the talk about this year being “Jay Cutler’s time to shine”, all the rebuilding of a historically bad defence and all the expectation a new season brings, it turns out very little has actually changed in Chicago.

Cutler is still throwing inexplicable picks, the D line still aren’t getting any pressure on the quarterback and worst of all, running backs are still gashing the Bears up the middle. The loss to Buffalo was bad, especially in the context of the tough schedule the Bears have over the next few weeks. If you can’t beat the perennially average Bills at home what hope is there of winning on the road in San Francisco, New England and Green Bay?

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NFL pre-season leaves me cold

With the NFL season being so short in comparison to every other major sport, I always feel like I should pay more attention to the pre-season. It’s easier said than done though, as for the most part it’s pretty pointless.

At least from a fans point of view; these games are invaluable for coaches, GM’s and the players themselves of course. That doesn’t make them much fun to watch though.

Staying up for late night regular season games is not really difficult; I’m fortunate enough to work from home, so if necessary I can just go back to bed after doing the morning school run.

I haven’t missed a regular season game since I discovered the joys of internet streaming back in 2009, but the pre-season is a whole different ball game; it’s far more of a struggle. I am interested and I do make the effort to tune in, it’s just that they quickly descend into nothingness when you end up with players from both sides on the field who have no chance of making the final roster.

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In the Black Unicorn’s absence, Zach ensures it’s “Miller Time” in Chicago

It’s not been a good week for Bears tight end Martellus Bennett. The former Cowboys and Giants man, who refers to himself as ‘the Black Unicorn’, made national headlines on Monday when he completely over reacted to being knocked to the floor by rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller in practice.

Bennett lost it and slammed Fuller to the turf, a move that was frowned upon by team-mates, coaches and management alike, not least because Fuller is a 1st round pick expected to see a lot of playing time and also happens to be 70lbs lighter and 8 inches shorter than Bennett.

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Reluctant Rose should not have to recruit

One of the main differences I see between the NBA and English football is the attitude towards trades and ‘recruitment’ by players. Obviously trades are rare in football as for the most part deals tend to involve transfer fees and player exchanges are quite rare. ‘Free Agency’ and ‘Bosmans’ are perhaps the only similar scenarios you’ll find between soccer and basketball, but even then they’re world’s apart.

Take the now annual harrumphing in Chicago over Derrick Rose’s unwillingness to ‘recruit’ the top free agents. Whether it’s Lebron leaving Cleveland or Melo toying with the idea of leaving $65m on the table in NYC to go and chase Championships (like that was ever going to happen), there’s much wailing and gnashing of teeth over Rose’s point blank refusal to “reach out” and try to persuade players to join him in Chi Town.

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Cutler tantrums are a symptom of Bears struggles, not the cause.

The Jay Cutler ‘leadership’ debate reared it’s ugly head again this week after the Bears QB didn’t exactly cover himself in glory – either with his play or his conduct – during a risible performance by the offence that negated some great stuff by the ‘D’ in a painful loss to the Packers.

‘Bad Jay’ showed up once again at Lambeau, throwing picks to the opposition, cursing out team-mates and generally just looking like he’d gotten out of the wrong side of the bed. We’ve seen this before, but not too much in the last couple of years. In fact, not since the NFC Championship game has Cutler been subjected to the level of scrutiny and criticism we’ve seen this week.

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Waiving goodbye to the 2012 Red Sox

After a while you’re just glad that it’s over. A public admission that the pretence can’t go on anymore, this Red Sox team isn’t making the playoffs, isn’t functioning as it should and it’s time we all just accept this and move on. Of course most people with a set of eyes could tell you that, it’s been a season of poor pitching, media hurricanes (storm is too nice), manager goofs and ridiculous, astounding injuries.

When your team puts players of value, with high contracts, on waivers in August, you know the game is up. More importantly, you know the front office knows the game is finally up. It’s not that difficult a decision, the Red Sox sit 13.5 games back on the Yankees at the top of the AL East. 8.5 games back on the AL Wildcard race and 7 games under .500, having lost 4 in a row and 7 out of their last 10. That’s not post-season form, that’s Chicago Cubs form (it really is, they’re last 10 game record is identical).

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How I became a Bear

Like most UK based ‘American Football’ fans of my generation, I’ve got Channel Four to thank for my love of the NFL. Prior to them bringing the Gridiron into living rooms across Great Britain, the average Brit knew absolutely nothing about the game. For a few years after I still didn’t know much about it, I just knew I liked it.

Channel Four had a hell of a lot to do with I ended up following ‘Da Bears’, as had they not shown Super Bowl XX then chances are I would have ended up supporting someone else, probably the Denver Broncos as I loved John Elway, but by the time Elway was losing Super Bowls on a seemingly yearly basis I was already hooked on the Bears.

 

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