Preparations for the three regular season games being played in London this year kicked into high gear on Wednesday as the NFL held an International Series Media Day at Wembley Stadium.
Offensive tackle Menelik Watson (Oakland), defensive ends Cameron Wake (Miami) and Osi Umenyiora (Atlanta), linebacker Stephen Tulloch (Detroit) and defensive backs Will Blackmon (Jacksonville) and Brandon Carr (Dallas) were on hand to meet members of the British media.
And the NFL stars not only threw their weight behind the playing of games in the United Kingdom, they were considerably vocal with regard to the prospect of an NFL franchise being placed in London.
Lions linebacker and defensive captain Tulloch told BritViewNFL.com:
“I think London should have a couple of franchises. I don’t know about the travelling aspect but that is something they could figure out how to make it work. There are a lot of fans here who love football.”
Umenyiora, who was born and raised in London, played at Wembley Stadium for the New York Giants in 2007 and returned a year later to call an International Series game for Sky Sports.
The Pro Bowl and All-Pro pass rusher said:
“There is no question about it – London should have an NFL franchise. The logistics of the whole thing have to be workedout but the fan base is there and people are very receptive to the sport.”
Returning to the UK, Manchester-born offensive lineman Watson is relishing a regular season game at Wembley Stadium and fully expects to lead the Silver and Black out of the tunnel with the Union Flag proudly in his hand.
“Come on, whoever has that flag, I’m dragging it out of their hands,” the second-year lineman joked. “I’ve got to carry that flag out of the tunnel.
“I think we should have an NFL franchise in London. The sport of American football is so unique that it needs to be expanded globally. This is a great game and the world needs to see more of the NFL. It would be special to come home and represent England every day – but right now, I’m trying to bring it for the Silver and Black!”
Dolphins Pro Bowl defensive end Wake was more than happy to head overseas to London to promote the league’s ongoing international efforts, insisting:
“A London franchise would be a lot of fun. We’re doing whatever we can to broaden the horizons and get more visibility for our game on a larger stage than just the United States.”
The Dolphins take on the Oakland Raiders at Wembley Stadium on Sunday September 28, Atlanta hosts Detroit on Sunday October 26 and Jacksonville takes on Dallas on Sunday November 9.