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The Guardian: The eight-metre man and his circus comes to town


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Final Score Range for Skins vs. Pats game  

115 members have voted

  1. 1. Final Score Range for Skins vs. Pats game

    • Skins by 20+
      12
    • Skins by 10-19
      4
    • Skins by 4-9
      25
    • Skins by 1-3
      37
    • Pats by 20+
      14
    • Pats by 10-19
      39
    • Pats by 4-9
      15
    • Pats by 1-3
      3
    • Tie .....lol
      3
    • Pats by 40+ (for all the haters...lol...jk)
      7


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A British perspective... :)

An enormous animatronic replica of Jason Taylor is currently walking the streets of London. At 6ft 6in the Miami Dolphins star may be a quarter of the size, but he is much more interesting to talk to, as Mike Adamson explains

Tuesday October 23, 2007

Guardian Unlimited

http://sport.guardian.co.uk/ussports/story/0,,2197606,00.html

While British sports fans may have considered last weekend to be the biggest of the year, this Sunday at Wembley, in front of 90,000 spectators, something potentially even more momentous is taking place. For the first time the NFL is staging a regular-season game outside North America, and if its venture to Europe is a success, the world's most opulent league will seek to adopt a prominent position on the sporting landscape of this continent and beyond. Not only that, it will also encourage the growing number of overseas Premier League billionaire businessmen to export league and Champions League fixtures abroad to maximise revenues. It is not for nothing that the likes of Tom Hicks, Peter Kenyon, Malcolm Speed, Robert Kraft, Stan Kroenke and Roger Goodell are gathering for an Economist sports conference entitled 'Sport 2020: The Changing Face of the Global Sports Industry' in London on Thursday.

The commercial side hangs over every aspect of the Wembley game. It is being broadcast live in 215 countries with commentary in 21 languages, making it statistically as popular as the Super Bowl - and it is for this reason that the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants have been chosen to represent the NFL. These two franchises became popular on this side of the Atlantic during the 1980s, when the sport developed a cult following with late-night appearances on Channel 4's innovative coverage. One player who has been pushed forward more than any other as, in his words, the "ambassador" for the game, is Jason Taylor, the Dolphins' star defensive end and NFL Defensive Player of the Year, of whom an eight-metre tall animatronic replica (the largest ever built, apparently) is being manoeuvred around the streets of London as you read this.

Always PR savvy, even with its own players, the league has been keen to minimise disruption to the teams' normal pre-game preparations and the two squads will jet in only two days before kickoff - the Dolphins' cheerleaders are making a series of publicity appearances in their absence - but Taylor visited London in June to explore the city and build interest in the game. He was impressed both by the facilities and feverish excitement already in place.

"It has been really neat to meet Dolphins fans from the UK," he said. "With fans like this it is going to be fun when we play. It's the first time I've been to London. We saw the arch over Wembley Stadium on our way into town, and from everything I have been told it is a very special stadium. I think it will be like a Super Bowl atmosphere - very much like your soccer games. It will be crazy, the electricity and atmosphere is already building and it will be a lot of fun.

"I played a pre-season game in Mexico, but regular season is a totally different matter, so it's fascinating. It's a bit further than our normal longest trip would be, but we have the following week off so there's plenty of time to recover. The opportunity and the stage, the venue and the country, everything around the game is a unique chance for those involved."

One group who will be involved less than they would hope are the Dolphins fans, many of whom are angry that one of their eight home games has been moved 4,500 miles east. "I can understand why they are upset," says Taylor. "A lot of people in Miami live and breathe the Dolphins, so to take a game away from them is a big deal.

"It's so intense in the city that I've had people ask me to sign their babies. There was once a guy who wanted me to sign his arm - he went away, came back and he'd tattooed over what I'd signed. That was kind of strange. But to look at the bigger picture, hopefully they can appreciate what we're doing. It doesn't make it any better for them but it's such a unique opportunity and, as this thing grows and becomes more frequent, I hope we're asked to do it again."

Taylor, however, is hesitant about how frequent it could actually become. One stated aim of the NFL is to increase teams' schedules from 16 games per season to 17, with each team playing one tie outside the United States each year - up to four games a season would then be played in London. This could even include the Super Bowl, the biggest one-off sporting event in the world. Another ambition is eventually to have a permanent NFL franchise in London, but Taylor believes this is unrealistic.

"I think it would be difficult to have a team here because of the travel. Every game would be after at least an eight-hour journey, unless you scattered several teams across Europe. But then it's not the National Football League anymore, it's the World Football League, and everything would have to change. I think the most successful idea would be to take our existing teams outside the country every now and then. That would be beneficial both for the teams and the countries they visit."

Despite the Dolphins' fame with British NFL fans who followed legendary quarterback Dan Marino's exploits, it's debatable whether it really is beneficial to have the current Dolphins over here. While in 1972 they became the only NFL franchise to have ever recorded a perfect season, they're now on the verge of recording a perfectly imperfect season having lost their opening seven games. They are on their worst run of results ever - taking in the tail-end of last season their losing streak extends to 10 games - and they have player problems too. Their starting quarterback Trent Green is out for the rest of this term because of serious concussion, their main wide receiver Chris Chambers has been traded and, last Sunday, their one genuine offensive weapon Ronnie Brown was ruled out with a cruciate knee injury. "We can't win in America," quips Taylor. "Maybe we can win overseas."

The Dolphins' demise makes the Giants, who have won five successive games after losing their first two, big favourites for Sunday's encounter. Even Taylor prefers to focus on marketing matters rather than what the game may produce on the field. "The Giants obviously come from a very big market in New York. They've got some great players in quarterback Eli Manning and defensive end Michael Strahan. I don't know an awful lot more, to be honest, because I've only played them twice in my career. Both teams have really underachieved in recent years, but it is two huge markets in New York and Miami coming together, so it should be a great event."

Taylor has been so disillusioned by Miami's failure to reach the Super Bowl - they have not reached the showpiece for 23 years - that he contemplated retirement briefly last year. There were also strong rumours he would leave for a team with a shot at a championship ring before last week's trade deadline, but again he stayed put. Now he says he would like to play out his career in Miami. "I don't even want to think about leaving the Dolphins. I started in Miami 10 years ago and I'd like to finish in Miami. I think I've got four or five more years in me, and hopefully that time can be successful. I'll stay as long as they want to keep me."

Seasoned observers have suggested the Dolphins might have cashed in on Taylor, 33, to try to build for the future. But his rare abilities are part of the reason why Miami retained the player, as he explains himself. "I'm a little different for my position I think, because it's usually bigger guys - 270, 280 pounds - who are not so fast who play there. I'm 240 pounds and think I can do more than a normal defensive end can do - drop back to cover, rush the quarterback, make plays on the ball. It gives the team more options." Perhaps more important, however, is that Miami, in a league littered with off-field miscreants, could not be symbolised by a more clean-cut role model. Though Taylor considers the criminal activities of some NFL players to be overstated, it is an issue that he concedes must be addressed if the league is to thrive abroad. "Players do need to be more cognitive of what they're doing and where they are - they need to stay out of trouble and police stations.

"The media accentuates the negative things - for instance, there are a lot of guys working with charities which is deemed not newsworthy - but there are some making mistakes, and that paints the whole league with a broad brush. We are a microcosm of our society. In the NFL the majority of players come from rough beginnings and are underprivileged. There comes a point when they have to realise they must grow up, that they can't remain the kind of person they once were."

Taylor will share captaincy duties on Sunday with another figurehead for his sport, former Rugby World Cup-winning England captain Martin Johnson, who will be an honorary Dolphins skipper for the day. "I didn't know anything about rugby until meeting Martin. It was a great experience and I learned from a lot of people what a legendary player he was."

Taylor speaks highly, too, of David Beckham, whose marketing capabilities have taken him in the opposite direction to Taylor's voyage of discovery - to the United States to try to harvest football's appeal there. However, as much as he admires the former England football captain, Taylor is unconvinced the sport can succeed in his own country. "It will never be at the level of, say, the NFL there or soccer here. David Beckham will bring notoriety and credibility to it in the US and grow it in some markets, but other markets are tougher nuts to crack. He's certainly a good ambassador for the game - he's got the looks, the background and the celebrity. He's also got his wife, who attracts a lot of attention. Overall he's a very interesting individual if you look at some of the things he's dealt with."

After two months of dealing with misery on the field, it is no wonder Taylor says he "likes to get away as much as I can to relax. I love to golf and fish, and my family has a boat so we take that out a lot. I like to combine all three - take a boat out to an island, play some golf in the morning, and fish in the afternoon." His trip to this island is likely to be considerably more strenuous, but if he and his floundering team can perform well off and on the pitch, he may well have played a significant role in how global sport is shaped over the next few years.

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A British perspective... :)

An enormous animatronic replica of Jason Taylor is currently walking the streets of London. At 6ft 6in the Miami Dolphins star may be a quarter of the size, but he is much more interesting to talk to, as Mike Adamson explains

Tuesday October 23, 2007

Guardian Unlimited

http://sport.guardian.co.uk/ussports/story/0,,2197606,00.html

While British sports fans may have considered last weekend to be the biggest of the year, this Sunday at Wembley, in front of 90,000 spectators, something potentially even more momentous is taking place. For the first time the NFL is staging a regular-season game outside North America, and if its venture to Europe is a success, the world's most opulent league will seek to adopt a prominent position on the sporting landscape of this continent and beyond. Not only that, it will also encourage the growing number of overseas Premier League billionaire businessmen to export league and Champions League fixtures abroad to maximise revenues. It is not for nothing that the likes of Tom Hicks, Peter Kenyon, Malcolm Speed, Robert Kraft, Stan Kroenke and Roger Goodell are gathering for an Economist sports conference entitled 'Sport 2020: The Changing Face of the Global Sports Industry' in London on Thursday.

The commercial side hangs over every aspect of the Wembley game. It is being broadcast live in 215 countries with commentary in 21 languages, making it statistically as popular as the Super Bowl - and it is for this reason that the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants have been chosen to represent the NFL. These two franchises became popular on this side of the Atlantic during the 1980s, when the sport developed a cult following with late-night appearances on Channel 4's innovative coverage. One player who has been pushed forward more than any other as, in his words, the "ambassador" for the game, is Jason Taylor, the Dolphins' star defensive end and NFL Defensive Player of the Year, of whom an eight-metre tall animatronic replica (the largest ever built, apparently) is being manoeuvred around the streets of London as you read this.

Always PR savvy, even with its own players, the league has been keen to minimise disruption to the teams' normal pre-game preparations and the two squads will jet in only two days before kickoff - the Dolphins' cheerleaders are making a series of publicity appearances in their absence - but Taylor visited London in June to explore the city and build interest in the game. He was impressed both by the facilities and feverish excitement already in place.

"It has been really neat to meet Dolphins fans from the UK," he said. "With fans like this it is going to be fun when we play. It's the first time I've been to London. We saw the arch over Wembley Stadium on our way into town, and from everything I have been told it is a very special stadium. I think it will be like a Super Bowl atmosphere - very much like your soccer games. It will be crazy, the electricity and atmosphere is already building and it will be a lot of fun.

"I played a pre-season game in Mexico, but regular season is a totally different matter, so it's fascinating. It's a bit further than our normal longest trip would be, but we have the following week off so there's plenty of time to recover. The opportunity and the stage, the venue and the country, everything around the game is a unique chance for those involved."

One group who will be involved less than they would hope are the Dolphins fans, many of whom are angry that one of their eight home games has been moved 4,500 miles east. "I can understand why they are upset," says Taylor. "A lot of people in Miami live and breathe the Dolphins, so to take a game away from them is a big deal.

"It's so intense in the city that I've had people ask me to sign their babies. There was once a guy who wanted me to sign his arm - he went away, came back and he'd tattooed over what I'd signed. That was kind of strange. But to look at the bigger picture, hopefully they can appreciate what we're doing. It doesn't make it any better for them but it's such a unique opportunity and, as this thing grows and becomes more frequent, I hope we're asked to do it again."

Taylor, however, is hesitant about how frequent it could actually become. One stated aim of the NFL is to increase teams' schedules from 16 games per season to 17, with each team playing one tie outside the United States each year - up to four games a season would then be played in London. This could even include the Super Bowl, the biggest one-off sporting event in the world. Another ambition is eventually to have a permanent NFL franchise in London, but Taylor believes this is unrealistic.

"I think it would be difficult to have a team here because of the travel. Every game would be after at least an eight-hour journey, unless you scattered several teams across Europe. But then it's not the National Football League anymore, it's the World Football League, and everything would have to change. I think the most successful idea would be to take our existing teams outside the country every now and then. That would be beneficial both for the teams and the countries they visit."

Despite the Dolphins' fame with British NFL fans who followed legendary quarterback Dan Marino's exploits, it's debatable whether it really is beneficial to have the current Dolphins over here. While in 1972 they became the only NFL franchise to have ever recorded a perfect season, they're now on the verge of recording a perfectly imperfect season having lost their opening seven games. They are on their worst run of results ever - taking in the tail-end of last season their losing streak extends to 10 games - and they have player problems too. Their starting quarterback Trent Green is out for the rest of this term because of serious concussion, their main wide receiver Chris Chambers has been traded and, last Sunday, their one genuine offensive weapon Ronnie Brown was ruled out with a cruciate knee injury. "We can't win in America," quips Taylor. "Maybe we can win overseas."

The Dolphins' demise makes the Giants, who have won five successive games after losing their first two, big favourites for Sunday's encounter. Even Taylor prefers to focus on marketing matters rather than what the game may produce on the field. "The Giants obviously come from a very big market in New York. They've got some great players in quarterback Eli Manning and defensive end Michael Strahan. I don't know an awful lot more, to be honest, because I've only played them twice in my career. Both teams have really underachieved in recent years, but it is two huge markets in New York and Miami coming together, so it should be a great event."

Taylor has been so disillusioned by Miami's failure to reach the Super Bowl - they have not reached the showpiece for 23 years - that he contemplated retirement briefly last year. There were also strong rumours he would leave for a team with a shot at a championship ring before last week's trade deadline, but again he stayed put. Now he says he would like to play out his career in Miami. "I don't even want to think about leaving the Dolphins. I started in Miami 10 years ago and I'd like to finish in Miami. I think I've got four or five more years in me, and hopefully that time can be successful. I'll stay as long as they want to keep me."

Seasoned observers have suggested the Dolphins might have cashed in on Taylor, 33, to try to build for the future. But his rare abilities are part of the reason why Miami retained the player, as he explains himself. "I'm a little different for my position I think, because it's usually bigger guys - 270, 280 pounds - who are not so fast who play there. I'm 240 pounds and think I can do more than a normal defensive end can do - drop back to cover, rush the quarterback, make plays on the ball. It gives the team more options." Perhaps more important, however, is that Miami, in a league littered with off-field miscreants, could not be symbolised by a more clean-cut role model. Though Taylor considers the criminal activities of some NFL players to be overstated, it is an issue that he concedes must be addressed if the league is to thrive abroad. "Players do need to be more cognitive of what they're doing and where they are - they need to stay out of trouble and police stations.

"The media accentuates the negative things - for instance, there are a lot of guys working with charities which is deemed not newsworthy - but there are some making mistakes, and that paints the whole league with a broad brush. We are a microcosm of our society. In the NFL the majority of players come from rough beginnings and are underprivileged. There comes a point when they have to realise they must grow up, that they can't remain the kind of person they once were."

Taylor will share captaincy duties on Sunday with another figurehead for his sport, former Rugby World Cup-winning England captain Martin Johnson, who will be an honorary Dolphins skipper for the day. "I didn't know anything about rugby until meeting Martin. It was a great experience and I learned from a lot of people what a legendary player he was."

Taylor speaks highly, too, of David Beckham, whose marketing capabilities have taken him in the opposite direction to Taylor's voyage of discovery - to the United States to try to harvest football's appeal there. However, as much as he admires the former England football captain, Taylor is unconvinced the sport can succeed in his own country. "It will never be at the level of, say, the NFL there or soccer here. David Beckham will bring notoriety and credibility to it in the US and grow it in some markets, but other markets are tougher nuts to crack. He's certainly a good ambassador for the game - he's got the looks, the background and the celebrity. He's also got his wife, who attracts a lot of attention. Overall he's a very interesting individual if you look at some of the things he's dealt with."

After two months of dealing with misery on the field, it is no wonder Taylor says he "likes to get away as much as I can to relax. I love to golf and fish, and my family has a boat so we take that out a lot. I like to combine all three - take a boat out to an island, play some golf in the morning, and fish in the afternoon." His trip to this island is likely to be considerably more strenuous, but if he and his floundering team can perform well off and on the pitch, he may well have played a significant role in how global sport is shaped over the next few years.

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