Did you ever wonder what footballs fans outside of the United States think about Rex Ryan and his New York Jets? Well recently Iain Bartholomew from UK-Jets.com, a New York Jets fan club based in the United Kingdom, took the time to answer a few questions about Gang Green, as well as the NFL.
TR: Recently the UK Jets fans got a shout out from defensive lineman Sione Pouha in his “Life of Lockout” video. Can you provide some information about your site and how it got established?
IB: It was apparent for quite some time that there was a solid group of UK based Jets fans without anything official or formal being in place to allow these people to generate discussion or swap ideas. A few of us were in conversation on Twitter and agreed it would be a good idea to set something up. I created the original website (a rather depressing Joomla effort, on reflection), launched on opening night and set about promoting the site as best I could. The others made some initial efforts to support what I was doing, but ultimately had various other demands on their time. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Ryan Williams and David Wyatt made a key contribution to drawing in users in the early days of the website.
TR: What are the NFL viewing options in the United Kingdom? Are you able to view all of the broadcasts live?
IB: The contracts are generally renegotiated annually. Sky Sports, a subscription sports channel (4 channels actually) have broadcast one live game from each of the 1pm and 4:15 pm slots each Sunday of the regular season for a number of years (a brief experiment of having a second game from each slot available lasted just a year or two) and have regularly covered Thursday and Saturday games as they are played. Last year the MNF games were on ESPN in the UK and the SNF games were on Channel 4 (this was a development of some nostalgia for long-time UK viewers as it was C4 that first broadcast the sport in this country, although they had not done so for some time at that stage). I do not anticipate changes to that schedule in 2011, but it is impossible to be sure. The BBC show highlights of the playoffs and broadcast the Super Bowl live (Sky Sports have all playoff games and the Super Bowl live).
TR: In terms of the New York Jets, how do the fans in the UK receive most of their information on Gang Green?
IB: This varies. I’d be certain that the vast majority now comes from the internet in some shape or form. Whether through news sites, fan sites, twitter or simply by checking nfl.com.
TR: Who are some of the most popular New York Jets players in the UK?
IB: If the voting for MVP last year is any indication then it is guys like Sione Pouha, Brandon Moore (a former Scottish Claymore, of course) and Mike DeVito. That said, the current Jets jerseys in my collection are LT, Sanchez and Braylon.
TR: What do the UK fans think about New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan?
IB: UK Jets fans love him the same way American Jets fans do. UK NFL fans who are not Jets fans mostly can’t stand him, much like American NFL fans who do not root for the Jets!
TR: Your site named Sione Pouha the “Uk Jets 2010 Player of the Year.” Can you explain that selection?
IB: Simple. There was a vote and he won! There was a general feeling that none of our ‘stars’ had quite lived up to their billing in 2011, albeit the team as a whole had a great season. Most of the votes were for linemen, with David Harris the only other player to get any significant backing. I personally voted for Pouha because I felt he best embodied the Jets’ raison d’etre – hard working guy, knows his job, gives full effort all the time and makes important plays. The defensive line was clearly an outstanding unit in 2011 and Pouha edged deVito as the top individual.
For what it’s worth, Pouha’s response, both in writing at the time and on this video, are evidence of the man he is and clearly demonstrate how correct we were in our decision.
TR: What is your impression of New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez?
IB: Personally, I could not be happier that Mark is our quarterback. Everything I’ve seen leads me to believe he is going to be, health permitting, the starting qb on the Jets for the next decade plus. I love his leadership, his guts and his spirit. I love that he comes up biggest when the stakes are highest. I don’t think he was in any way good enough yet in 2010 to achieve what the team needed – home playoff games, but he clearly showed progress from 2009 and if he keeps making that progression he will be a top 10 starter in the league.
I can’t honestly think of any other young quarterback that I’d trade him for, not Freeman, Bradford, Stafford or any of them.
TR: What is the feeling in the United Kingdom about the Jets as they head into the 2011 season (assuming there is one)?
IB: Right now I think people are mostly frustrated. With so many questions to be answered on the makeup of the roster it’s hard to get a strong gauge on where the team is going to be come opening day.
TR: What is your feeling on the NFL lockout?
IB: It is an absolute farce. That two groups of adults can allow this type of situation to arise is utterly absurd.
TR: Is there anything that you would like to share with the Jets fans back in the U.S.?
IB: Sure. Firstly a huge thanks to those of you who have stopped in at uk-jets.com to say hello. Your input and thoughts are warmly welcomed. To those who haven’t yet, please do stop by and say hello. Particularly with an eye on any future potential Jets trip to London for an International Series game, it would be great to build up relationships with anyone who might consider making that trip with the team.
There are also always guys from the UK looking for advice ahead of trips to NY to see the Jets play, so please do not feel as though we are a private members’ club!
Whilst we are largely disappointed at the response our group has had in direct correspondence with the Jets organization (the helpful Chris Pierce and Matt Higgins aside) we have been delighted to hear from quite a number of fans based in America. We’re always looking to build friendships and relationships and look forward to speaking in the future! Please give me a shout on twitter at @ukjets (we offer a carefully selected feed of Jets news stories through the account) or stop by our forums to say hello.
TR: Iain, thank you for your time and for sharing your perspective from the United Kingdom.
I highly recommend that you check out Iain’s site www.uk-jets.com as well as follow him on Twitter: @ukjets