Were starting to get spoiled now by the good people at the NFL. Such is the frequency of their NFL fan forum events, and their continued success in both entertaining and educating.
This past Thursday was described as a night for the hard core fan as we were about to be shown how the guys who do the dirty work in the trenches do their business, to allow their headline grabbing colleagues to do theirs.
The night was hosted by the evergreen Neil Reynolds, and he is now a well oiled machine in these circumstances, and not even an interval break where a chosen view could win prizes by shouting out the names of players linked with animals and palaces could throw him off course.
Onto the main event and the two guests on the night were Jonathan Babineaux, the nine year veteran of the Atlanta Falcons defensive line, and center John Sullivan who is no stranger to these shores, having played in one of last years International Series games for the Minnesota Vikings, and also being part of a hugely popular NFL roadshow of events around the UK in the early part of last summer.
As usual there was a chance for audience members to ask questions related to the nights talk, or those slightly left field – “What’s the craziest thing you’ve bought?” (Sullivan = a boat, Babineaux = a house, a BIG house)
It was when the questions turned to what makes them such great lineman in todays NFL that the room fell silent. Such is the fascination we have with the sport that we all hang on every word by those in the hot seat. You could tell Sullivan was more used to our style of interviewing than his colleague, and took the lead in most part, but Babineaux was not to be withdrawn, and perhaps came out with the best line of the night which we will reveal later.
Sullivan talked us through how he would literally line up, from stance and balance, to how he drives off his feet to gain maximum balance and power. Eagerly listening, as well as those in the auditorium, was Babineaux as he will come up against the Vikings this year and was perhaps trying to get some inside knowledge on his future opponent.
When it was Jonathan’s turn to go through his drills he come up against two people that he was a little surprised on how to handle. First off was a light heeled young lady that made it a little uncomfortable for the Falcon to demonstrate leverage through the breastplate, and then he had to be quick off the mark to use his outside speed to get past a more than capable Farnham Knight.
As the night was entering its final stages the talk turned to London and how the two men saw the future for the NFL here. Sullivan spoke very highly of his experiences here both on and off the field last year, saying it was one of the most memorable moments of his career, Babineaux couldn’t wait to get home and tell his teammates of the reception he got on this night and the glowing report he got from his colleague on the night.
Both were very optimistic about the possibility of a London based franchise, Babineaux saying its just a matter of time and its exciting to be part of it, whereas Sullivan was thrilled about the fact that when we look back 50 years from now the people helping to push this through would be classed as pioneers of the game, and what better a legacy for Commissioner Goodell to have than that of the one who truly globalised the sport.
Oh, that remark that Babineaux made…well it was the day of Johnny Manziel’s pro day and when asked how would the two feel about protecting, or going after the future star. he simply said “I’m gonna kiil him, and then say welcome to the NFL”