Greetings ladies and gents, I hope you are all well. I know it is unusual for me to post something before the start of the new season however after the NFLUK fan night on Wednesday 11th July 2012 I wanted to share my experience with you.
I'm sure many of my UK readers will remember the man below as Mr Motivator however after this event I can assure you there is a new king of inspiration and motivation, just ask the London Warriors!
Anyway more about that later but for now let me set the background about the festivities of the fan night.
With the international series game fast approaching in October between the Patriots and Rams, NFLUK.com and Thomson holidays got together and created a fan draw for 120 lucky members to attend a night with Steven Jackson and Nate Solder from the Rams and Pats respectively.
As fate would have it my friend and Spartans team mate Marcus Henson was lucky enough to be selected and as a Rams fan he was stoked to get the chance to meet one of his players!
The event was held in the drawing room of the Landmark hotel outside Marylebone station in London and was hosted by sky sports very own Mr Neil Reynolds.
The stage was set up for Neil to interview the players with a heavy dose of questions from the fans.
First up we had a pre event speech from Mr Alistair Kirkwood who is the Managing Director of NFLUK.
Mr Kirkwood gave us a quick update on the a few issues including how long it is taking to secure the TV rights to the season.
Next was what I thought was the main show with Steven and Nate taking to the stage and being interviewed by Neil Reynolds and all of the fans in attendance. There were some great questions and I think the players really enjoyed it.
In the 15 minute interval we had the chance to get autographs and pictures with the players, unfortunately for Marcus and myself we fell just short of getting an autograph as they were on a tight schedule.
Finally the event was finished off by the special guest and before the event there was many a rumour that it would be the great Ray Lewis as he was in town attending the London Warriors practice. I have to say it is one thing talking about an NFL legend and something entirely out of this world actually being in their presence and listening to them speak about the game.
It turned out that it was indeed the one and only tackling machine that is Ray Lewis! Throughout his career Lewis has made a name for himself with his sheer passion for the game, his inspirational pre game speeches and knack for making all the big plays when the team needs him.
In his 16 seasons he has recorded 2004 total tackles including assisted tackles, 40.5 sacks, 31 interceptions, 18 forced fumbles and 19 fumbles recovered. If this isn’t enough to impress you Lewis has also been selected to 13 pro bowls and is recognised amongst NFL fans as one of the best players to ever lace up a set of cleats!
When Ray walked down the aisle to make his way to the stage the crowd went wild, well as wild as you can be in a classy London hotel anyway. I'm afraid it is now time to bring out the cliché’s as the next 45 minutes was simply the most entertaining, encapsulating and captivating 45 minutes of my life.
Listening to the great man speak was out of this world, everyone in the room focused on every word he spoke as it was filled with such fire and passion especially when asked what he thought should be changed about the game. His simple answer of 'nothing' and that he just wanted to smash someone as that's what football is all about sums up his dedication to the game.
Luckily I was one of the fans who got to ask the NFL icon a question which was about who he thought the next leader would be for team when there was no Ray Lewis. His answer was simple 'I don't think the franchise is ready to get rid of me just yet!' He then proceeded to advise that there is so much untapped ability in the locker room that he could not say who it be but again confirmed there is a lot of potential within their current squad.
After listening to Ray for 45 minutes I came to the conclusion that not only is he the best linebackers of my era that he is also one of the most humble, down to earth and just great human beings I will ever have the pleasure of meeting.
It is for these reasons that for me he will always be the one and only Mr Motivator!
Hopefully there will be a few more of these UK fan nights in the upcoming months and years whilst we continue to host the international series and if you get the chance to go you will have the most amazing time and be buzzing for days!