This September the Raiders are flying across the pond to host the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium in London. As the Raiders took to the field to begin their third and final week of Organized Team Activities [OTAs], Neil Reynolds of Sky Sports and NFLUK.com was one of the media members in attendance to watch the Silver and Black continue their offseason program.
Reynolds is currently on a week-long visit to the United States reporting on the teams headed to England to play regular season games in 2014. Taking in practice at the Raiders facility in Alameda was the first stop on his trip.
In addition to the team heading to England this September to play a football game, it will also be a homecoming for two current Raiders, T Menelik Watson and DE
“It’s great,” said Reynolds when asked about the two players returning home. “Jack’s from London and Menelik’s from Manchester, so it’s a big deal to us. We’re very proud of what they’ve done and gone from other sports into American football, so they’re going to get a great reception. Obviously, we pay attention to the quarterbacks; we pay attention to the receivers, but we’re going to give those linemen some love at Wembley.”
Reynolds, who creates content for NFL UK and NFLUK.com is also a presenter for Sky Sports and spoke about the popularity of the NFL and how the game has grown across Europe.
“All the games that we have now during the regular season are hugely popular,” he said. “To sell out three games at Wembley Stadium within two or three weeks, you’re talking 240,000 tickets, it’s a lot. It’s a big interest.”
As a kid growing up in England, one of the teams that Reynolds watched on television was the Raiders, and he has kept an eye on them, even from the other side of the globe.
“I think it’s fascinating what they’ve done with the veterans,” Reynolds said when talking about the offseason acquisitions for the team this year. “I doubt if anyone would say we’re in ‘win now mode,’ but you can’t argue with the proven quality that you bring in. Super Bowl winners that can pass on what it takes to win the big games. I’m fascinated to see how that plays out this year.”
Reynolds is also confident that Raider Nation will be well represented in the stands when the Raiders take the field at Wembley on the evening of September 28th.
“Teams like the Raiders, teams like the Dolphins, are iconic franchises, and so for the British fans to have the Silver and Black at Wembley Stadium, I think it does mean a lot. There’s already British fans talking about making the Black Hole at Wembley Stadium and the Raider Nation taking over Wembley.”
The Week Four matchup with the Dolphins is still over three months away, but excitement abroad for the Raiders’ trip is already building.