Miami Dolphins vs New York Giants
Wembley Report, 26th October: Dolphins’ London Press Conference; Giants Media Practice
So hot of the press our hands are singed
The Diner attended the Dolphins’ London press conference this morning; and then hot-footed it to the Giants practice/Q&A; session down in Chelsea FC’s training ground in Cobham.
Quotations, observations and sidebars from today’s action packed shenanigans:
Miami Dolphins Press Conference
First up, LT Vernon Carey (in the words of Bob Ball: “he’s a big lad”) hit the podium (not literally) and told the room the Dolphins offensive line wanted to prove that their running game success behind Ronnie Brown was “no fluke” and that they “intend to establish Jesse Chatman.”
“We’re a great unit he said,” when reminded about the Giants fierce pass rush.
Asked whether the ‘Phins might need to lean on British born WR Marvin Allen to get the win, a baffled Carey replied “who? I don’t know who you’re talking about,” though was quick to make amends when it was pointed out Allen was on the practice squad. Maybe Allen can show the rest of the Dolphins some decent London nightlife.
Quarterback Cleo Lemon arrived on the scene next, and pointed out that above all, this was a business trip: “we just want to come over here and get our first victory,” he said.
Also asked about the Giants’ pass rush behind London-born Osi Umenyiora, Lemon noted he’s been watching film of the Eagles’ Dononvan McNabb. That’ll help.
The journey over for Lemon had been an interesting one: “my wife and I were surrounded by ten 300 lb men on the plane here – we heard a lot of jokes, and a lot of weird noises.” That’s seven hours of weird noises the Diner doesn’t envy.
Jason Taylor, in an XXL England shirt that was still sufficiently undersized that he had to roll up the sleeves some, said he was doing so because “when in London, do as the English do.”
Asked about ‘Big JT’, the vast animatronic model of Taylor touring London, he said he hadn’t seen it in person, but noted “the eyebrows are a bit big for my liking.”
Taylor on the game itself: “hey, the field’s the same size, the game’s played the same way, wherever we are. We’re 0-7, and simply trying to get our first win of the season.
Finally, owner Wayne Huizenga, who resembles a more cheerful Elmer Fudd in person, noted the reception in Britain had been “amazing.” So far, he’d visited the Prime Minister and Sports Minister in Number 10, and had had breakfast with Ken Livingstone.
On the Dolphins winless season, Huizenga could point the finger at only one man: “I’ll take the responsibility for 0-7. But listen, we’re all sticking together, and we want to win.”
Giants practice and Q&A; at Chelsea FC training ground, Cobham
One coach ride later and the Diner was in the leafy groves of Cobham, Surrey, where the Giants arrived in coaches to go through a first London practice.
Beforehand, Eli Manning, Michael Strahan, Amani Toomer and Shaun O’Hara were on hand for a few photos. The Diner knocked over Strahan’s coffee and a jokingly-outraged Strahan noted how we’d “knocked it over, then put it back upright again as if it’d never happened!” Strahan was in buoyant mood.
Fresh faced Eli Manning meanwhile told the Diner he was “real excited and glad to be here.”
On the practice field itself, we couldn’t help but notice Jeremy Shockey, who said he’d had no sleep on the plane, shirking a few of the warm up exercises to open things up. As well as slipping past defenders in a zone, Shockey obviously has a knack for going unnoticed by Giants’ trainers.
After a walkthrough for the offense, with Eli handing off at half pace to Brandon Jacobs and Reuben Droughns, the special teams units also got a chance to strut it stuff with a series of punt and kickoff returns. Kicker Lawrence Tynes tried a field goal, and nailed the roof of a nearby construction hut in the process (though the ball did sail through the uprights first.)
Afterwards, in a Q&A;, Toomer, Antonio Pierce, Manning, Shockey, Osi Umenyiora and HC Tom Coughlin made themselves available for one on one questions.
Surrounded by groups of hacks and media types from America and Europe alike, the entire event had, according to one observer, “a Pro Bowl feel.”
Coughlin, visibly relaxed (huh?) told Football Diner that he wouldn’t be gameplanning for Jesse Chatman any different to Ronnie Brown because “he is an equally dangerous player, who has shown something special every time he has taken the field, though he is a different kind of runner.”
He also told us he didn’t expect the media furore to affect the Giants: “the players are fully aware of what’s at stake,” he said. “I’m counting on my team to play and play well.”
As a last treat for the Diner boys, we also ran into pundit extraordinaire Mike Carlson, who foresees a Giants win, possibly by a significant margin. Chatty and affable, Mike also reckoned that the media frenzy wouldn’t affect any of the players come Sunday. “It’ll all be about the game,” he said sagely.
Obviously, we took him at his word and went straight to the bookies.
Check back with us Monday/Tuesday for more from the teams’ post game press conferences.
( Further Photos from Today )