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Page last updated at 09:45 GMT, Friday, 24 October 2008 10:45 UK

Why you should watch the NFL in London

Venue: Wembley Stadium Date: 26 October Kick-off: 1700 GMT
Coverage: Live: 1630-1900 on BBC Two, 1900-2000 on BBC Three; Highlights: 0010-0040 on BBC Two; Commentary on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra; All on the BBC Sport website (UK users only)

Drew Brees of the Saints and Philip Rivers of the Chargers
Drew Brees of the Saints and Philip Rivers of the Chargers
A year after the success of the first ever NFL regular-season game outside the Americas, almost 90,000 American football fans will flock to Wembley again on Sunday to watch the New Orleans Saints face the San Diego Chargers.

Many more will tune in on TV or listen on digital radio, but why should you? Here experts and big-name fans tell you why.

Jerry Rice
Jerry Rice
Three-time Super Bowl winner and BBC TV studio guest at Wembley

It's going to be an exciting game. Both teams can put up a load of points. They like to throw the ball, so it's like a dream for receivers like me. I wish I could get back out there on the football field.

Fans to witness 'something special' - Rice

Last year we had the Giants and the Dolphins, and the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl - so hopefully the team that wins the Wembley game can go on and do some exciting things down the road too.

This is a beautiful city and I think it's fantastic that this game is here on Sunday - people in that stadium are going to witness something really special. It's going to be like two gladiators going after each other.

Jake Humphrey
Jake Humphrey
BBC TV presenter at Wembley

There are some big names on show, for the Chargers there's LaDainian Tomlinson, one of the best running backs in NFL history but who has struggled with form and fitness this year, and Philip Rivers, the quarterback.

There will be an awful lot of muscle, skill and passion on that field

Jake Humphrey
The Saints have stars that will be welcomed Beckham-like onto the pristine turf too. Drew Brees is a QB who looks like becoming a legend of the game and is on course to break Dan Marino's record of most passing yards in a season.

The biggest disappointment is that Reggie Bush - who has been sparkling for the Saints this season and returned two punts for touchdowns, tying an NFL record for a single game recently - will be back in the States for work on an injured knee.

There will be an awful lot of muscle, skill and passion on that field. It's an amazing spectacle and if you've not seen it or appreciated it before I urge you to give us a few minutes of your time on Sunday.

David Patten
David Patten
Saints wide receiver

The game itself sells it. To see players like Drew Brees, to see a LaDainian Tomlinson, you're going to get your money's worth, you're going to get excited.

BBC Sport's Tim Love

That's the great thing about football. It might not be a high scoring game but there's excitement, there's action throughout the entire game.

You're going to see a big hit, you're going to see a great play, you're going to see enthusiasm, you're going to see team work.

Trust me, the fans that come to the game will get their money's worth and they won't be disappointed.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
Ex-England rugby union captain, now manager, and NFL fan

It's been part of my life since I was growing up. There is a hardcore support for the game over here.

I was trying to explain how the positions equate to our sport. As a game, generally it's all about territory. It's about control of the ball, scoring points, deception. In some ways it's very different. In some ways you can see the similarities.

Compared to going out with a football or even a rugby ball, it's a harder game to coach; you need specialist equipment. That's the cultural difference with what we're used to.

Mike Carlson
Mike Carlson
BBC TV studio analyst at Wembley

Sports fans love sport with a love that goes beyond the partisan chauvinism of club, code or country.

They appreciate seeing the best in action, whether it be Gaelic football, Australian rules, or even that odd 11-a-side match the English middle classes and the Australians call soccer.

The Saints represent a city that survived a hurricane, and returned home to play their best football in years

Mike Carlson

They have the chance to see the Saints and Chargers, two teams widely fancied at the season's start who both now face must-win scenarios with identical 3-4 records, playing a game for real, one that counts in the standings in America.

The most exciting moments of American football games hinge on passing, and these teams boast two of the very best, Philip Rivers and Drew Brees. That Brees started his career with the Chargers simply adds a little spice.

LaDainian Tomlinson may be slowed by injury but he's one of the best runners in the game, and the Chargers defence features Antonio Cromartie, famed for 100-plus-yard returns of kicks and intercepted passes.

BBC Sport's Martin Gough

Plus, there are players exceptional at the smaller things. Chargers' nose tackle Jamal Williams is a man-mountain who regularly absorbs the attentions of multiple blockers so his teammates can make plays.

Saints' fullback Mike Karney is built like a fireplug, and moves like a bulldozer, clearing the way for the Saints' runners.

The Saints represent a city that survived a hurricane, and returned home to play their best football in years. Now in London they provide a chance for British fans to share the game-day life of New Orleans, or San Diego, or any other American city.

For anyone who loves sport, that has to be a treat.

And why you should listen

Arlo White
Arlo White
BBC Five Live Sport Extra commentator

Ever since the mid-1980s when a weak long-wave radio signal carrying NFL commentaries would waft over from the US Army bases in Germany on Sunday evenings, I've been hooked on the sport of American football.

For me, hurling an American football accurately for 50 yards or more is one of the most mesmerising skills of any sport

Arlo White
It seemed strangely exotic back then to be listening to live broadcasts from America, but it was often a frustrating experience, as the climax of many a close game was drowned out by Belgian folk music.

I would urge the sceptical among you to cast off your prejudices for one afternoon. Try and rise above the "oh it's just rugby with helmets" mentality for three hours, and give it a go.

The Saints and Chargers are famed for the potency of their offences. For me, hurling an American football accurately for 50 yards or more is one of the great and most mesmerising skills of any sport on the planet.

If you can stand the stoppages (even diehard British fans can have their patience tested sometimes), then marvel at the chess-like quality of the game, the super-human athleticism on show and the monster contact between players.

Oh, if like me you're from Leicester, you may remember the head coach of the New Orleans Saints. His name is Sean Payton, and he played quarterback for the Leicester Panthers down at the Saffron Lane velodrome 20 years ago. Now that's just weird.

Rice was speaking to BBC Sport; Patten was speaking to BBC Sport's Tim Love; Johnson was speaking to the Press Association.

see also
NFL star Bush out of London clash
20 Oct 08 |  American Football
NFL fixtures
05 Jan 08 |  American Football
NFL results
26 Oct 07 |  American Football
NFL standings
26 Oct 07 |  American Football
NFL in a nutshell
19 Oct 05 |  American Football
American Football on the BBC
05 Feb 08 |  American Football

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