American Football and Entertainment

I have to hand it to the Americans – they certainly know how to put on a good show. This past Sunday, I attended an NFL game in London, between the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos. The SF 49ers were the home team in Wembley Stadium and yes, that is possible.

My husband and I had been invited to the game by his work colleagues, so we got the VIP treatment through and through. Personalized invitations, no lines, fantastic entertainment at the tail gate party, a sit down three course lunch and fabulous seats. I had felt thoroughly spoilt before the game had even begun.

The football stadium was packed, which I hadn’t expected. Apparently, american football is quite popular in the UK – I encountered a 7 year old British boy who was a die hard fan. He came in his New York Jets t-shirt. The majority of the people attending, however, were Americans (I could tell from the accents I heard all round me). As per conversation conventions, I threw in some stories about my exposure to college football (the music, the barbecues and supporting the Cavaliers) to appear interested and informed. I passed with flying colours.

The pre game entertainment in the VIP suite included music by a jazz band called The Curious Collective, interviews of former NFL players such as Jerry Rice, and a special performance by the SF cheerleaders, Gold Rush, who were extremely dolled up and looked like tarts right out of Sports Illustrated . People queued up to get their autographs and be photographed with them. These ladies don’t get this celebrity status back home and they seemed ecstatic for it. Needless to say, we queued up as well and my husband was quite happy getting close to the pretty ‘uns.

After a few hours of this lovely hospitality, we were shown to our seats and the stadium entertainment commenced and I was blown away once again. Jeff Beck played ‘God Save the Queen’ on the guitar and the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ was performed by another award winning singer, whose name I am forgetting. I remember her lovely red shoes though. Then there was more music and more dancing and finally, the fireworks went off. Giant blimp style balloons in the shape of helmets and a football were flown in the stadium, and then the US and UK flags were unfurled. A beautiful opening show to get the audience into the spirit of the game.

Then the game started. Then it got interrupted 5 seconds later. Then it resumed. Then it got stopped. Then there was a commercial break. Then it started. Then it stopped. Then there were some announcements about season tickets and merchandise. Then it started. Then it stopped. Then there was music and the cheer leaders danced (I saw their undies and they all matched). Somewhere in all this, the 49ers scored three points through a kick, but I missed it (I was relying on audience applause and a crowd wave to inform me of such developments). I had some Coke and salt and vinegar crisps to keep myself awake and was just about to pull out my imaginary sleeping bag when the game resumed – for one full second. Then it was half time.

As much as I had wanted to stay back for the post game hospitality and entertainment, there was no way I could have sat through the second half of the game. I decided that it was time to leave. My husband and I helped ourselves to the the half time cookies and coffee, made some conversation about the game with our hosts and then took off. The good part was that we made it to the tube without any rush or queues. The bad part was that we heard the game got really exciting in the second half and that we missed seeing some of the current 49ers as well as Richard Branson after the game. Still, can’t say I regretted leaving. I watched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World that night.

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