The Lions of London

They might be more than 3000 miles from home, but the Detroit Lions are loving London living. Head coach Jim Caldwell addressed the media this morning and said his players were having a great time on their trip to the UK.

The team are staying in the leafy Surrey surroundings of Pennyhill Park, near Bagshot. This luxurious hotel is where the England rugby union team set up camp during next month’s autumn internationals, and again for the 2015 World Cup. The Raiders used the complex in Week 4 last month, and The Jags were here last year.

Jim Caldwell addressing the UK media
Jim Caldwell addressing the UK media

The Lions touched down in the UK on Tuesday, and Caldwell praised his hosts claiming that the trip has been great for team bonding.

“A lot of the guys will be sad to leave because it’s been a great setting”

Caldwell has led his new side to an impressive 5&2 start this campaign. He was aware though that this isn’t a normal regular season game:

“A few of these guys are married and have families so, ordinarily, they would be at home with their families in the evening”

The Lions will shortly leave their country-living for the London metropolis, and Caldwell hopes that the experience will help the team on Sunday.

“this particular setting provided an opportunity for those guys to get to know each other a little better. It’s fostered a bit more cohesion”

“Normally our guys aren’t away from things like they are here. It’s unique and we’re benefitting from it”

There was a mood of optimism for UK football fans as Calvin Johnson took part in practice again. The receiver looked comfortable running routes with the offensive team, but Caldwell insisted his star man wouldn’t be rushed, “he did work yesterday and I thought he did a pretty good job. We’ll see where he is today”.

Reggie Bush is also questionable to play on Sunday, along with TE Brandon Pettigrew. It remains unclear as to whether we’ll see Eric Ebron and Joseph Fauria as well.

Both Atlanta and Detroit have embraced their visit this week and UK fans look like we’re in for a show on Sunday. Will it be the Falcons flying home with the win, or will the Lions roar at Wembley? Whatever the result, we’re lucky to have them both over here.

London Franchise Moves Another Step Closer

Bring on the London games! Keep them coming. It seems to be that every time we host one, the more people give their support to a London-based franchise.

Reggie Bush is the latest player to give us his backing. Speaking today at the Lions’ training camp at Pennyhill Park, Surrey, the RB told that “It’s only a matter of time before an NFL team comes to London”. He also went on to say that he believed we’d host a Super Bowl in the future as well, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

What’s reassuring is that so many NFL stars, past and present, are advocating a London team. Former two-time Super Bowl winner and Broncos GM, John Elway, has recently said that he can’t see any reason why it shouldn’t happen. Another former QB, arguably the greatest of them all, Joe Montana, said on his visit over here last October that he couldn’t see why it wouldn’t happen.

“I’ve said to the NFL that anything the Government can do to make this happen we will do” – George Osborne

The Commissioner, Roger Goodell, is constantly talking it up and now our very own Chancellor has officially pledged government support to the plan. Speaking to London’s Evening Standard, George Osborne said, “This is primarily a decision for the owners of clubs and the NFL organisation but I’ve said to the NFL that anything the Government can do to make this happen we will do, because I think it would be a huge boost to London”.

It’s another big week for NFL UK as we build up to the second game of the season at Wembley Stadium. After Detroit vs Atlanta we get another taste of action as Dallas head over to take on London’s adopted team, Jacksonville Jaguars in just two weeks’ time. Let’s hope we get more glowing endorsements because the sooner we get a team the better for all us fans. Then we can start dreaming about Super Bowls. One step at a time, though.

Poppies To Be Worn By Cowboys & Jags

Week 10’s Wembley showdown between the Cowboys and Jags will mark Remembrance Sunday by displaying the iconic Poppy logo on their uniforms and helmets.

The NFL has teamed up with the Royal British Legion for the showpiece on November 9. The Poppy will also be displayed on the Wembley pitch. Fund-raising for the Poppy Appeal will take place at the game, which will form part of the NFL’s annual Salute to Service programme.

The organisation does a fine job of supporting their armed services. Last October’s game between the 49ers and Jags honoured troops from both sides of the Atlantic. There wasn’t a dry eye amongst the 80,000 fans under the arch when families were re-united on the pitch.

Alistair Kirkwood, Managing Director of NFL UK, said: “We are very pleased to be able to mark Remembrance Sunday with this partnership. The NFL has a tremendous respect and admiration for the service given by the military, both in the US and UK, and we are honoured to be able support the Poppy Appeal through fund-raising and integration of the Poppy into our game at Wembley.” 

Charles Byrne, Director of Fundraising for The Royal British Legion, said: “For the Poppy Appeal to be recognised by the NFL shows that the respect and recognition for our Armed Forces extends far beyond here in the UK. We are proud to be working in partnership with the NFL at their Remembrance Sunday fixture and I look forward to seeing the Poppy worn on NFL uniforms for the first time.”

At the end of the match 80,000 poppies will be dropped into the Wembley stands and the uniforms worn by the players will be auctioned via , with proceeds going to the Poppy Appeal.

The NFL Raided London



NFL UK put on another remarkable show
NFL UK put on another remarkable show

The UK became a Raider Nation this weekend as the first International Series of 2014 got off to a fine start

Oakland flew into London 0&3 but were buoyed by a promising performance at New England last week. Raiders fans had hoped to see their team clock up its first win of the season and things looked good as Derek Carr oversaw an impressive first drive that ended with a three yard touchdown to Brian Leonhardt.

The Dolphins responded to that early blow by kicking a field goal and then the points kept coming. Ryan Tannehill found his groove and threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns. Not bad for a QB whose coach refused to comment on whether he was going to start him this week. By the end of the third quarter Miami saw themselves 38-7 up.

The rookie Derek Carr threw for 146 yards, 1 TD and an interception before leaving the field in the third quarter with an injury. Matt McGloin took over and had a moment to forget on his second play as he watched the snap shoot past and picked up by Miami’s cornerback, Cortland Finnegan, who ran in the TD.

The Raiders will fly back to California on Monday morning with question marks hanging over head coach Dennis Allen’s future.

Although The Black Hole will be disappointed with their team’s performance under the arch, 83,000 football fans will have left Wembley satisfied with the event they experienced. NFL UK put on another festival that will further enhance this fine sport on our shores.

There’s only four weeks until two of the NFC’s biggest shooters come to town with Megatron and Julio Jones whetting our appetites.

Why Antonio Smith Will Be Watching Corrie


Whenever you visit a different country it’s only natural that you take in some of their culture. That’s one of the reasons we enjoy travelling. The Oakland Raiders are no exception. After all, they’ve got a Brit in their ranks.

“Menelik ain’t shown me no crumpets and tea yet”

So has Menelik Watson introduced his team mates to a bit of Coronation Street? If ever he wanted to show off a bit of the city where he grew up then this is the week to do it; with a spot of Corrie.

The veteran Defensive End Antonio Smith was puzzled, “what’s that?” I told him it’s a soap and that Menelik visited the set this summer. “Does it have beautiful women in it?” Now to some people Rita is beautiful, so I didn’t lie…”in that case I’ll watch it then!”

What about Khalil Mack? “No man, Menelik ain’t shown me around yet. He ain’t taken for no crumpets and tea or nothing, but I gotta get real quick with him after this”.

The Raiders seem well adjusted to life in the UK and everyone I spoke to inn the team had nothing but praise for the welcome they’ve received since they arrived on Monday. They’ll want to repay that support with victory over the Miami Dolphins at Wembley this Sunday.

The Demon of Jet Lag


“Monday was a tough day to stay awake”

The Raiders flew out of Boston on Sunday night with a positive mood about the camp. The 0&3 team came within a score of beating the mighty Patriots in their own backyard. If their confidence needed an extra boost then they will find it in their sleep, or lack of it.

Jet lag seems to have been a real issue with the Silver & Black at the start of their UK visit. When asked about it, their first round draft pick, Khalil Mack quickly snapped, “Monday, oh my God! It was a tough day. To stay up throughout the whole day and then you go to be at 8pm and you can’t sleep.” So how bad was it? “It’s ok now, I’m starting to adjust…we’re all adjusting now”.

It’s taken them three days to sync their body clocks to GMT. Miami don’t fly out until Friday. Friday is normally a rest day for the Dolphins, but will they be ready in time? Saturday’s social commitments will surely take its toll on them. Compound that with the off field shenanigans this week and it doesn’t look promising for Joe Philbin and his team.

“It’s been a nice experience but I’m still suffering”

Veteran Defensive End, Antonio Smith, is still adjusting to the five hour leap forward in time (from New England), “I’m still suffering. I have not defeated the demon of jet lag yet.” When asked if that would play to Oakland’s advantage, the former Cardinals and Texans man said, “I hope it does because if they’re going to feel like I’ve been feeling with hardly any sleep it’s going to be a hard one for them to play”.

The former Super Bowl MVP, Terrell Davis, has been impressed with the preparation the Raiders have put into this week’s game. “They’ve given themselves plenty of time to acclimatise. They’ve done the right things (by coming over early) and I think they stand a good chance of winning”. The former Broncos RB did acknowledge that Miami have been here before and, therefore, know what to expect. But he thinks they’ll find it hard to adjust in time.

What we want is a great game. The Black Hole seem ready for it.

Four UK teams is an option


This summer the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, announced that a London franchise will happen in the next few years rather than decades. This is a hot topic with UK-based football fans who seem hungrier than ever for gridiron. Just look at the demand for tickets for this year’s International Series. Wembley hosts three games this autumn, the first of which takes place this weekend, and we snapped up tickets within a couple of weeks.

“It doesn’t matter who’s playing, they’re into the game”

So what do the Yanks make of it all? How do they feel about us Brits taking away one of their franchises? The former Super Bowl MVP, and two time Champion, Terrell Davis doesn’t have a problem with it. We caught up with him at the Raiders’ training camp in Surrey and asked him if he was impressed with the support for his beloved game over here, “Absolutely. You don’t think about the boundaries for American Football whilst you’re over there (USA) and how far it extends until you actually go some place and it’s actually being talked and being played there” said the former Broncos RB.

Davis added, “I was walking down the streets and it was nice to see people talking about football and the game this Sunday. It doesn’t matter who’s playing, they’re into the game and that’s always good”.

“You talk about jet lag, I would be interested to see the team that’s over here play 8 games in the States”

Davis said that it looks like a London team will happen, but questioned the impact the travelling would have on them every other week of the regular season, “you talk about jet lag, I’ll be interested to see the team that’s over here play 8 games in the States. It will be tricky, but what we’ve learned is that players are very resilient and they learn how to adapt to the environment. So whether it’s here or over there, you’ll probably hate the week but once the game starts nothing matters”.

How do you resolve the issue of all that travelling? Davis has a solution – set up a whole new division with four UK teams! “The possibility of four teams over here is a solution. You put four teams over here”. His theory being that the teams would play more games over here, therefore only having to travel to the States a handful of times in the season.

But is that what we want? I think part of the romance is being able to see likes of Rodgers, Brady, Manning and Megatron in our own backyard.

Until that happens we’re thankful to NFL UK for bringing us more games this year. It looks like we’re going to be treated to three, if not more, games in 2015. We’re ready for it and Davis certainly thinks so too, “The support is here. Everything that’s needed to bring a franchise here seems to be here, so the next step is to get the actual team here.”

Oakland Raid London

They’re here!

The Oakland Raiders (0&3) landed at Gatwick this morning ahead of their game versus Miami Dolphins (1&2) on Sunday. The Black Hole will take over Wembley Stadium this weekend. Will this be the week Derek Carr and co claim their first win? Will the UK crowd see their countryman, Menelik Watson, celebrate on his homecoming?

5th Down UK have been granted access to the team and we’ll bring you photos and interviews from the camp this week.

Also, look out for us on Sunday and get yourself on our Wembley photo gallery!

NFL on Regent Street

NFL returns to Regent Street on 27th Sept
NFL returns to Regent Street on 27th Sept

5th Down UK were on Regent Street this week and saw the banners! We’re already excited about this year’s event, which includes:

This year’s NFL on Regent Street will run from noon to 6p.m. and will include:

  • Appearances and interviews with Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders players and coaches
  • NFL legends, including Hall of Famers
  • The Oakland Raiders cheerleaders, The Raiderettes
  • The debut of NFL Lab, which we’ve heard allows you to measure yourself at certain NFL skills
  • Field goal kicking, quarterback challenge
  • NFL merchandise – we love a bit of merch!