London has been a key stop-off in the NFL’s International Series – a handful of regular season games that sees the American football showpiece head overseas.
And the insatiable appetite for the sport in the capital is such that as many as three fixtures will be heading to London during the 2024/25 season.
At the time of writing, the dates of the games – and who will be playing in them – have not been revealed, but if previous International Series contests are anything to go by this is a spectacle not to be missed!
A Different Ball Game
Wembley Stadium is typically used to hosting a version of football entirely different to that promoted by the NFL, but that hasn’t stopped more than 85,000 people taking up their seats to watch this unique sport first-hand.
Those that bet on NFL games will know that the Baltimore Ravens are one of the favourites to win the Super Bowl in February at 3/1, so it’s interesting to note that they played the last game hosted in London back in October.
The Super Bowl winner odds also favour the likes of the San Francisco 49ers (2/1), Buffalo Bills (6/1) and Dallas Cowboys (15/2), so those are just some of the teams that Londoners will be looking out for when the International Series schedule is released later in 2024.
What we do already know is that three games will be played in London – one at Wembley Stadium and two at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Typically, these International Series games in the capital have been played in October each year, although that is of course subject to change in 2024.
We also know that one of the teams that will feature are the Jacksonville Jaguars, who will definitely play in the Wembley date and possibly one of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium fixtures too.
The Jags, as they are known, have played at least one NFL game in the capital every season since 2013, which explains why Londoners have taken them to their heart as their adopted franchise. Will those in attendance be able to cheer Jacksonville home to another London victory in 2024?
If the 2024 International Series fixture list features the Detroit Lions, there will be an emotional homecoming for one of their players.
Julian Okwara is a linebacker for the franchise, appearing in nine games during their run to the play-offs in 2024. Although Detroit are considered outsiders to win the Super Bowl this year, that’s not to say it’s impossible – Okwara could add his name to the list of British-born players that have a Super Bowl ring on their mantlepiece.
Super Bowl champion Jay Ajayi is officially retiring from the NFL this weekend.— NFL UK (@NFLUK) January 8, 2022
The London-born RB will be an honorary captain for the @Eagles tonight. 🇬🇧🏈
Congrats Jay, and all the best in retirement! pic.twitter.com/uOFaontFsi
The 26-year-old was born in London before moving to America for his studies, where it became evident that his natural speed and power would lend themselves nicely to a career in American football – as has been proved as he enters his fourth season with the Lions.
Growing up, it’s likely that Okwara would have tuned in to previous editions of the Super Bowl that featured his fellow Londoners. Marvin Allen was the trailblazer back in 2009 – the Croydon was part of the Pittsburgh Steelers squad that won the ‘Big Game’ that year, while Golders Green’s Osi Umenyiora twice won the Super Bowl with the New York Giants.
Most recently, Jay Ajayi collected his Super Bowl ring in 2018 with the Philadelphia Eagles, so there is plenty of precedence for Londoners winning American football’s biggest prize.
Imagine if Detroit do lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy in February… what a reception Okwara would get in London later this year.