A person wearing a wedge of cheese on their head might seem odd to most, but when the Green Bay Packers are in town, it’s just a regular part of game day.
The Packers played in London on Sunday, the first time the franchise has played in the UK – and the last of the NFL’s 32 teams to play there.
While some games in London often saw divided crowds – many just there to watch the sport they love – Green Bay’s game against the New York Giants at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was definitely a home game for the team Wisconsin.
And one jersey in particular was more popular than the others – a green and yellow with the name “Rodgers” and the No. 12 on the back.
They all came to see the great Aaron Rodgers, reigning NFL Most Valuable Player (MVP). And who could blame them, even at 38, he’s still one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Ahead of Sunday’s game, Rodgers expressed his personal excitement at doing more than just playing in London.
“I wanted to go early to experience a bit of that culture, get out, see some sights and interact with fans, go to a pub and have a Guinness or whatever the local brew is,” he said.
“I’ve been talking about doing this for years since they started it – I couldn’t wait to get over it. But nobody wants to give up a home game in Green Bay, so it’s exciting to finally get the chance to cross over.”
And for those who traveled from all over to see the legendary quarterback for the first time, Rodgers was treated to a special first-half performance but a quiet second half.
Rodgers threw for two touchdowns, one each for Allen Lazard and Marcedes Lewis, as the Packers snapped a first-half lead, only for the Giants to come back and win 27-22.
Green Bay built a 10-point lead at halftime when it looked like they were going to roll, but some offensive errors and some good Giants defenses stopped the Packers and eventually turned the tide towards New York.
Giants running back Saquon Barkley continued his strong start to the season, ending the game with a touchdown and 106 total yards as the New York defense secured Rodgers the win late in the fourth quarter.
With less than two minutes left, Rodgers had pushed the offense to the Giants’ 10-yard line. However, the Giants defensive linemen and linebackers deflected Rodgers’ passes and allowed the Giants to run down the clock.
On the final play of the game, with just one last chance to pull a win from the bag, Rodgers was fired by Oshane Ximines and fumbled the ball, handing the win to Giants.
For many it was a day of firsts, but also just another away game.
Sunday’s game was the first London game between two teams with winning records.
Green Bay’s arrival in the UK allowed many to see their favorite quarterback for the first time. For some, however, it was a reunion across the Atlantic.
For Sue it was one of the traditional away games of her season.
“I try to attend two or three games a year and at least one away game, and that’s our away game,” she says, also explaining that her trip from the US to her beloved Packers is an anniversary.
“I’ve been a Packers fan for 41 years. I’d say (the NFL’s biggest star) is Rodgers, but Tom Brady did really well too.”
At the other end of the scale, Martin and Nicola – both dressed in their own Rodgers jerseys – were the big man’s proxy fans for a day.
“Actually, I’m not a Packers fan. When I go to a game, I support the home team. So I’ve been to a lot of games in the States,” said Martin, who says he’s seen a lot of great players — including Brady — at games in the States.
“I stayed here last week and it was great.”
After the game, Rodgers said the reception in the UK was “special”, saying the atmosphere was like a home game but also apologizing for the “disjointed performance”.
“The audience was incredible,” Rodgers told the media afterwards. “Our fans were loud all the time, it was outstanding. Hopefully the team will get a chance to come back and play here again. I will remember it for a long time.
“I would love to come back, but it remains to be seen how many years it will take and where I am.”
Whether they’ve come to the UK as tourists to see the Packers play in London or are seeing them play in person for the first time, they’ve been treated to some Rodgers magic despite the result on his long-awaited London debut.