David Cambridge part 2
Following a submission of a question to the NFL UK I was lucky enough to be one of 140 fans invited to meet Roger Goodall the Commissioner of the NFL for a Q&A session at the Landmark Hotel on the Saturday morning.
Having arrived early I was hanging around in Marylebone Station watching a film crew shoot a new commercial for the new Nintendo DS when a number of lovely young ladies started appearing. They were a group of the Bucs Cheerleaders also staying at the hotel and seeing my natural tiger like irresistible qualities (or maybe the fact that I had a Bucs shirt on) they came over to speak to me. What a lovely start to the day!!
Having spent a bit more time with the Cheerleaders at their hotel I spent a very interesting hour at the Commissioners session. Speaking to a number of Bears fans they were saying how disappointed they had been with the Bears organisation who had done nothing to meet with them, they had refused to share their itinerary and when some of them waited at the airport to greet them they were totally ignored. It just goes to show how lucky were are!!
The Q&A was very good with many interesting and diverse questions. The two questions that had the most impact came from Bucs supporters. The first came from a bloke in a Byron Leftwich Bucs jersey, Rick Stroud jokingly said that there he had only ever seen three of those shirts, the one this guy was wearing and two that Byron wore himself!
Asking if there were going to be an expansion of Regular NFL games into mainland Europe the Commissioner gave a very strong view that they intended to remain focussed on England as it already had the fan base, the facilities, and a strong media platform at that it had been agreed that they were going to increase the number of games to two a year, hopefully from next season.
The second question of relevance came from yours truly. Asking how happy the NFL were with the Bucs involvement with the NFL series the Commish indicated that they were very happy and that the Glazers have played a very positive role in pushing the international series. This led on to the thoughts that the NFL would like to see two teams have regular games at Wembley and that the Glazers were very interested in developing a global fan base so it may well be that this is not the last we have seen of the Bucs on these shores!
Half way through the session we were also joined by Jerome Bettis who was in top form. It was further exciting to see me on the NFL lead up programme which was on Sky on Sunday morning and I have been told that I also made appearances on Sky on Saturday night as well.
It’s all about being a VIP
Following on from the Commissioner's session I met up with George and Harry and we spent an enjoyable afternoon at the Fans Rally in Trafalgar Square where we met up with a number of Bucs UK fans including Graham Reid, The Zinkster and Smithy.
Having given Cecil Martin some "Eagles Suck" chanting and thanks to some nifty work by Paul Stewart, we were given some VIP passes from Brian Ford and we were able to slip back stage where we met up with Brian and his family, Brad Johnson, Jimmie Giles and Neil Reynolds who were all on great form. After this we retired to the VIP hospitality area for some light refreshment whilst looking on at the peasants below.
Texas Embassy Dinner
It was great to see so many Bucs Fans together at the meal on the Saturday evening. Well done as ever to Wayne “The Hoff” for organising this event where we were treated to some insights and humour from T J Rives and the boys from NFL Rants and Raves (Steven Miranda and Jeff Ellis).
Game Day and the Bucs are playing later as well
Great to be involved in such a friendly event with the Bears fans. It is not every day you get to step on a football field, especially a bright blue one; with an NFL Super Bowl winning quarterback and seeing George get a touchdown reception from Brad Johnson was awesome.
The event itself only lasted an hour or so but it was pretty action packed with Jimmie Giles and Shelton Quarles and captain Fear also coming along. The attendance of the Bears band was also good fun; all that was missing was a few Bucs Cheerleaders. Once again the event was really well supported by the Bucs UK fan base and the never ending support from Brian Ford and his family.
The Real Business of the Trip, Game Time
The atmosphere in Wembley was excellent, the Goo Goo Dolls gave a great performance and the screens were much better than in previous years really making it like a Bucs home game.
The game itself, oh dear, given that the Bucs had been over in the UK for five days before the game and the Bears only two, we expected the Bucs to be much better prepared and to deliver the win we were all looking for.
Instead, we got ourselves into trouble through the first three quarters allowing Forte to run through our defences untouched supported by a tonne of blocking for a 32 yard run touchdown and Roy Williams who any other time has trouble catching a cold getting on the end of a 25 yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler.These scores were split by Ronde downing Forte in the end zone for a safety, our first since 2005 and when we had an early chance following a Tanard Jackson interception giving us the ball on the Bears 12 yard line Freeman gave the ball straight back with an interception of his own.
Losing Earnest Graham early, right in front of the Bucs UK fans was a massive loss and with Zuttah, Jackson and Foster also going down during the game on top of Faine, Blount and McCoy inactive from the start and by the time we went into the 4th quarter we were in real trouble. Marion Barber had run in another touchdown and Robbie Gould had missed a field goal whilst the Bucs had one successful field goal and we had a 16 point deficit at 21-5 and our offense looked non-existent with Freeman having thrown three interceptions in the game trying to force things in the air with no running game. Time for another Freeman 4th quarter comeback.
He got us right back in the game with a couple of good drives and touchdown connections to Kellen Winslow for two yards and Dezmon Briscoe for 24 yards closing the game to three points. The Bears got the ball back with about 4 minutes left in the game the soon drove up to our red zone. The Bucs defense then held strong and on a big 3rd down they were able to get to Matt Forte to hold it to a 4th down field goal. Then right in front of us again, Talib gets called for a grab of the face mask after the play aaaggghhhhhh. The rest of the Bucs D really vented his anger at them.
The defense were able to snub out the Bears offense again holding them to a field goal and a six-point lead but the Talib incident had lost us a minute and the half on the clock.
Freeman started the final drive of the game from the Bucs 28 yard line and after a pair of receptions each to Preston Parker and Mike Williams we were in striking distance again on the Chicago 39 yard line with 37 seconds left on the clock. Then the final disaster and end of the Bucs hopes, freeman, trying to force another pass to Briscoe was picked off for the fourth time in the game and the Bears were able to take a knee to close out the game.
After the game it was a final farewell to the Fords and members of the Bucs before they set off in their coaches before we set off home.