We are back with one of your favorite new segments from Overtime Heroics: NFL Fan
This week we stay in England and direct our focus to Norwich, a city in a large, rural area of the East. Our OTH NFL fan for the week is Neal Spinks, a middle-age, sports, music, T.V. and film fan. During his spare time, he is a soccer coach and tries to attend as many live events as possible.
He first heard about the NFL back in 1986, as the Bears played an exhibition game in London.
“I fondly remember William Perry, as he was involved in a lot of press to promote the event. Can you imagine seeing William Perry eating fish and chips outside of Buckingham Palace? It was crazy.”
Denver Broncos Aficionado
Neal chose to be a Broncos fan in the mid-eighties, a time when the English public was being introduced to channel four, a network, eager to introduce to the U.K. to new sports, like Sumo, Australian football and the NFL.
“During those first few years you’d only be able to catch highlights of the previous week’s games placing a strong emphasis on the team’s leading the standings.”
One of those teams was the Denver Broncos. He became attracted to the story of the underdog team from Colorado, a team who was coming into their own, at a time of SuperBowl dominance from the NFC.
“John Elway was excelling at the helm and he started to win a lot of games for the Broncos. He even led them to a win in the AFC Championship game that year”
He also shares with me that back then, the only football game that appeared live was the Super Bowl.
“You would figure that since we are all Norwich City season ticket holders, that I would be cheering for the Packers because of the green & yellow connection, but not in our household!”
Diverse OTH NFL Fan Family
It seems it is a common practice to rep the colors of your favorite soccer team. Therefore, choosing the NFL team that comes close to that team’s color. However, as it turns out, he is the only one in his family to cheer for the Broncos:
“My youngest son chose the Giants as a fashion statement, he liked the colors!” His mom chose the Jets after seeing a Bowling for Soup live show where one of the band members wore a Jets jersey.
“Our eldest son chose the Cardinals after sitting up to watch Super Bowl XLIII, and being the underdogs against the Steelers.”
“Safe to say, we are not glory hunters!”
That is a lot of variety in his household, and they do not always get along!
When everyone’s team plays at the same time, they can only pick one of the early games to stream live.
“The late games go on past our bedtime, so it definitely has to be one of the early games!”
The Evolution of Fandom
Neal tells us that the fandom for American football has increased every year. He also mentions all avid fans are regulars at each London Game.
“I live near a big USAF base, so I’ve always tried to enjoy some good football conversations with service personnel, whilst wearing Broncos gear.”
Contrary to Claire da bear, Neal tells us he never relied on service personnel to get results.
“Our sports reports have always included a broader selection of sports, so I was able to catch a glimpse of results from time to time.”
It wasn’t until John Elway and the Broncos won Lombardi Trophy that T.V. rights moved over to Sky Sports.
“Even though my parents were always opposed to me doing so, I was very happy to pay for the privilege of watching my team!
“I mean, it was John Elway playing after all!”
The opportunity to watch NFL games has been there for some time, but it was on pay-tv, so it wasn’t so accessible to everyone. Nowadays, the game has become so popular, that about five games are shown live every week. The days of keeping up with scores as you watched the only game shown on T.V. are gone! No need to fight over the remote! Plus with so much information on social and sites like OvertimeHeroics, he is always up to date with scores and news.
“We also get RedZone coverage, so not all is lost, and with streaming options, you can now follow any game that you want and feel like a true fan!”
Thanks to the London football games, the fandom and popularity for the sport have grown, even in unthinkable ways:
“Holidays are now taken for every Thanksgiving and Super Bowl game, so we can properly enjoy them, and stay up all night!”
His next step is to one day, travel to the U.S. and get to cheer for his Broncos live!
Broncos Memories and Favorite Games
John Elway has been his favorite player of all time: “To me, John is the G.O.A.T., plain and simple!”
With Terrell Davis coming in a close second: “It is unfortunate that his career had to be cut short, he could have been in that category too.”
He also lists Shannon Sharpe, Ed McCaffrey, and Steve Atwater. More recently, Peyton Manning and Von Miller round up his list. His favorite moment is the all-famous 1986 Championship Game, one of the first games he ever watched.
“Even though I was too young, and didn’t really appreciate it as much as I should have, I did get to watch the drive!”
He also lists the SuperBowl wins in the 90s as two more memorable games that he will treasure in his mind for years to come. We also spoke about the current Broncos team:
“The defense is looking fine, which you would expect under Fangio, given his previous records.”
“On offense, the quarterback position is a problem! Should we let Allen play out the season or turn to Lock if healthy? A lot of promising young offensive talent and you would hope given time this can be a work in progress and no need for a major upheaval.”
OTH Fan NFL Experiences
Even though he has yet to see his Broncos live, Neal has experienced some NFL games including one that provided a great story for him. The Vikings played the Browns at Twickenham Stadium in 2017 and he tells us:
“We were enjoying the activities around the stadium, and there was a field goal kicking activity.”
Just as a reminder: let’s remember he is a soccer coach. So in his mind, he thought this would be the easiest thing ever!
“You had three attempts to get it through the upright, no problem right?”
Well, his youngest son, overly confident, went first and he could hardly get it off the ground.
“I commented something to him about his lack of technique, and then I stepped up and took my shot! Nearly as bad!”
Finally, his eldest son’s turn to kick:
“And yes, he did nail all three of his kicks, like he had been a pro kicker for years”
After this event, Neal said he was not sure if this was due to youthful agility or his great words of coaching wisdom.
He also enjoyed the Raiders against Bears game at Tottenham stadium.
“That atmosphere was incredible, with all the fans mingling together!”
Memorabilia & Sports Collection
“It is very difficult to find sports memorabilia here, as we do not have any permanent shops that I know of”
All of his gear has been bought at a stadium, or online from the NFL Europe store or Fanatics.
“For that reason, I don’t have any memorabilia at the moment”
“All I have is a jersey from the first game I ever went to, a couple of t-shirts and a knitted hat”
Thanks again for stopping by. Please leave your comments/feedback below, and join our forums for more great NFL and any sports discussion. For past OTH NFL FANS click here! You can follow me on Twitter at @Dre2124. Follow Overtime Heroics at @OTHeroics1 and Instagram @othsports. For Overtime Heroics merchandise, click here!