American football is a BIG story… but one we've heard many times before
09:47 GMT, 29 October 2012
The mothership has landed. Strange creatures, many the size of your average garden shed, emerge in their battle armour. They speak with strange voices, but are all of one mind. They are ready to conquer us all and spread the cult of the gridiron. The NFL is in town.
Which is how the sixth international NFL regular season game was being sold to us over on its main UK stage, Sky Sports.
Which, frankly, is beginning to wear just a little thin with me.
Putting on a show: The band train performed at Wembley as the NFL roadshow rolled into London
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It was thirty years ago that Channel 4 first took the bold leap to bring the NFL to our screens, followed pretty quickly by the sight of legends like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice gracing the turf behind the old Twin Towers in north west London.
Since then the sport has been omnipresent on our tellys, and is serviced every given Sunday by Sky to such an extent that the Atlantic might as well be the Thames in terms of how little distance there is now between us and the sport.
But that sport is also a business. BIG business. And with big business comes the enormous sales pitch.
Thus we had the sight of mercurial New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady – in a Pats bobble hat the size of a two-man tepee –on Sky Sports News, cornered in a press huddle, making sure he stayed on message by referring to his trade as 'American football'.
That was during the week as the build-up to Sunday's match between the Pats and 'home team' St Louis Rams began to go through the gears.
Come game day, it was pedal to metal, starting with the NFL London preview show, recorded in the Rams actual home town.
Here we had host Bianca Westwood being reaaaallly excited about everything from a variety of locations around the city, while the channel's game analyst Neil Reynolds got to put the same questions many, many times to a host of players, so as to garner as many answers along the lines of 'representing the league' and 'spreading the game' as he could.
There's nothing fundamentally wrong with Bianca bubbling away enthusiastically, of course. Nor is Reynolds anything other than a genuinely knowledgeable reporter/pundit.
Glamour game: Cheerleaders entertained the crowd as the St Louis Rams faced the New England Patriots
Perhaps, though, the channel's stalwart host Kevin Cadle summed it up best, for me, when he opened the live coverage with the words 'a Big Event – but something we're very familiar with'.
Now that would have suited me just fine if that had been more the editorial approach.
This was never going to happen, though of course, because that is never how anyone ever goes to Wem-ber-ley. Not least a US sport made from pure, 100 per cent razzamatazz.
So, instead there was even more build-up featuring stock tourist shots of Buck House, Bearskins and Big Ben and the fan rally in Trafalgar Square during which players and coaches got to remind us once again just how excited they were to be here.
Back at Wembley, meanwhile, the entertainment had started. Entertainment of the light variety, that is.
Star man: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led his side to a comfortable victory over the Rams
Welcome: London Mayor Boris Johnson spoke and Katherine Jenkins sang the national anthem
First up, music from a band called Train, which I'm delighted to report, featured a ukulele. I'm going out on a limb here and saying that has to be a first for the NFL.
Then we had the laughs, as Boris Johnson played the latest leg of his 2012 'blonde Michael Mcintyre Comedy Roadshow' .
Taking to the field, microphone in hand, Boris welcomed 'the glorious descendent of rugby union football' before imploring everyone to enjoy what he steadfastly insisted on calling 'the match'.
However, perhaps the best line of the night went to one of the US commentary team.
As the camera panned around the fans during the second quarter, former New York Jets QB Phil Simms managed to damn yet another sell out NFL crowd with faint praise by informing us that after all these years of practise, 'they're cheering at the right time now'.
We still can't spell 'nite' and 'center' properly though, Phil.
Different ball game: Wembley lived the American dream as the NFL arrived in England
In the great NFL scheme of things, this blowout game for The Pats was in reality just another in the season schedule and once Sky completed its double header of games, it was back to where it all started for us over here, on Channel 4, for their live game programme.
With Nat Combs – a genuine fan who does a great job of being their 'voice', too – as host and evergreen expert Mike Carlson providing the insight, this show does its business in a more low key, studied way than Sky.
This was reflected in their round up of the NFL's trip to London, with not a ukulele in sight, and coach Bill Belichick moaning about the traffic, Tom Brady the rain.
Equally, where the drum was being banged constantly on Sky for the idea that the UK would have its own NFL team sooner rather than later, Mike's take on the matter was that there will be 'a team in LA before they have a team in London'.
Aha! Hollywood. Now they DO know how to put the show in business.