So in around a week’s time, the curtain will fall on another NFL season, either the Rams or the Patriots will hoist the Lombardi Trophy and fans all over the world will be blue at the thought 7 football free months.
In my opinion, it’s been a good season, both generally and for me personally; I’ve seen my Chargers have a good year and having had the chance to see them play at Wembley and we’ve seen the podcast grow and I’m looking forward to an even better 2019.
Speaking of the international series; these games laid on by the NFL in partnership with NFL UK, continue to help the game grow over this side of the pond. NFL UK managing director, Alistair Kirkwood and his team will probably feel it’s been another successful year, as will Sky, the main broadcaster of the NFL in this country.
However, I strongly believe we could be doing much more over here, I think Sky need to seriously up their game and that NFL UK have some serious tightening up to do. I feel that whilst the game is still growing in the UK, I feel there are enough fans now to really take the next step and not stagnate; which I feel we’re in danger of doing in some respects.
I’ll start with NFL UK… In general they do a great job and put on some great events. I was lucky enough to get along to one of these, where I was able to meet a few Chargers players amd alumni the day before the Titans game. It was an amazing experience and one I’ll cherish for a long time, don’t get me wrong… and here comes the “but”.
But sometimes with NFL UK the basics are really lacking. Before Championship week, their social media team tweeted out an image of a playoff bracket for their bracket competition, which had the Eagles down to play the Saints. Yes, we all make mistakes. I make mistakes daily just going about life. I make mistakes in my articles. However, I don’t get an editor, I don’t get paid, I am not the face of the NFL in this country. I find it a little embarrassing.
Then again, last Tuesday afternoon, they tweet out Gregg Rosenthal’s playoff bracket with a big picture of GREGG’s smiling face only to call him “GREG”… COME ON. He’s been kind enough to lend his name to aid your cause, at least get the guy’s man right!
Again, it just comes across amateurish.
Next up, Sky Sports… As we discussed on the pod on Tuesday, I feel Sky’s coverage is in need of a lick of paint and a few fresh ideas injected in to it.
Many readers will probably advocate for a fresh anchor too but I think Neil Reynolds does an ok job. He gets overly pally with certain guest and interviewees (Andrew Luck) but he’s generally ok, for me.
(However I will add, I watch my games via Gamepass, not Sky and if you don’t do the same, then you should and maybe this is why I don’t mind him).
I do feel like the coverage and analysis on Sky is pretty basic and relies on celebrity name drops, guest anecdotes or having a token American involved wh Neil.can cosy up to (Did anyone know that Shaun Gayle was on the ‘85 Bears?)… I want to be educated whilst I watch, not an after dinner speaker.
I know they have to cater for new fans as the game is growing but we’ve had NFL coverage over here for a long time on tv, we’ve got international games at Wembley for 10 years. As I said earlier, it’s time to take some risks, get some new faces involved and take a step forward. We’ve made huge strides, now isn’t the time to plateau.
The BBC are painfully bad when it comes to the overuse of celebrities. For instance, during their Superbowl or International Series coverage, when are they going to stop wheeling out Vernon Kay or Harry Kane? EVERYONE KNOWS THEY LOVE THE NFL. Or even worse, some celebrity who is “just learning the game” and is “blown away by the atmosphere”.
It’s just patronising.
Moving on to my big recent bug bear…
Now I know this is going to be a somewhat unpopular opinion but Sky have to stop the #SkyNFL hashtag on Sundays. The way it’s taken over by people sending in
ridiculous things isn’t funny. Maybe one week and I will admit, there are the odd funny tweets but as with most social media phenomena, it goes too far.
For me personally, I’m a big Twitter user during games and it kind of ruins my timeline when so many people are sending in crappy jokes, or I have to mute or unfollow people for retweeting it all and flooding my TL. (Poor me, right..?)
But as Adam and Tim correctly pointed out on Tuesday, what about the new fan who genuinely wants to learn?
It then creates bad blood between people because you get people who don’t take them as jokes and you get all kinds of name calling and some people do it because they want to get into arguments… it’s sad. It’s a waste of everyone’s time, it’s playground behaviour and Sky are facilitating it.
In my opinion, having a segment in the broadcast where you’re asking for tweets is kind of lazy. It’s unimaginative and it’s making the viewer create your content for you. People pay Sky enough money each month that they should be able to come up with their own content and analysis and make it fun and educational for casual fans, newbies or people who have been watching for a long time.
I really think we need some trailblazers in the media. I’d love to see some detailed x’s and o’s stuff on British TV, some insightful, intelligent analysis and more stuff in the written media along these lines too; I’d love to see someone fully harness the potential and knowledge we have. There’s a lot of passion for the game over here and I feel the coverage we get over here lags way behind. Which is why I don’t give Sky any money and I subscribe to gamepass and sites like The Athletic. Maybe I’m bias because I do this but I feel the only people who are trying to do anything different are podcasters but because it’s so saturated, there’s no money in it, so it all remains quite low level and almost underground. That’s where the talent is in my opinion.
And now for a short section of positivity…
I do feel like the game is trending in the right direction in the UK. I do feel like we’ll get there and whilst football will never challenge the Premier League and soccer in general, I do think it could become one of the most popular sports in the country. However, as we say at The Full 10 Yards, the people in power need to tell their balls to pick a lane and I feel like the time is now.