Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars Cedric Scott was back in London this past weekend as the team from Florida suffered a 31-17 loss in their ‘home’ match against the Dallas Cowboys at Wembley Stadium as part of the NFL International Series.
Coach Scott is no stranger to London, having visited previously as part of the Jaguars’ commitment to play four games in the British capital from 2013-2016.
However, Scott also travelled through London numerous times as a player when he was allocated to the then NFL Europe side – the Scottish Claymores – back in 2004 by his parent club, the Cleveland Browns.
Scott spent two years at the Browns, making just four appearances, after the defensive end was traded by the New York Giants after one season where he played nine times for them following their 4th Round pick in the NFL 2001 draft.
Speaking with A Head For The Game in London, Scott discussed his time playing in Europe and what the experience is like 10 years later in 2014.
“It’s not on purpose but not many guys know my background,” said Scott when asked about if any of the current Jaguars roster were aware of his NFL Europe background.
“A lot of these guys were young when NFL Europe was going on and they really didn’t pay any attention to it. They know the NFL; that’s what they ask about – when I got drafted to the Giants, when I played with the Browns, that’s what they really ask about.
2004 was to prove to be their last season as the Claymores folded in the September, after having nothing short of a calamitous experience, ending with a 2-8 record and another unwanted record – that of the lowest-ever score ever in an NFL Europe match, losing 3-0 at home, in Hampden Park, Glasgow, against the Amsterdam Admirals. The NFL Europe and subsequently, NFL Europa, was to close a few years later, in 2007.
“Some of our players haven’t even heard of the NFL Europe or paid attention to it,” said the 37-year-old.
“But as we were over in London this week people kept asking me; ‘Coach Scott you getting out?’ I just told them, not much, as I have seen it; I used to travel through London for connecting flights to Germany, to Scotland and all of that so I have been here a few times.”
With the discussion in Europe changing from if there will be a NFL franchise based in the continent to when, what does Coach Scott feel about players from America calling London their home?
“These guys love football,” said the former Southern Mississippi player. “I wouldn’t think where it matters they play in the NFL as long as they’re playing NFL football.
“They grew up playing football; it’s a game that they love, it doesn’t really matter when or where they play; if they’re in the NFL that’s fine. Whether it’s Tokyo or in London for an NFL team that’s fine, this is a game most of us grew up playing and if we’re playing we’re satisfied and appreciative of it – when I was in NFL Europe I came over and tried to do my best every single day.”
Those experiences, whilst 10 years ago, are still relevant today as when the Gulfport, Mississippi-born Scott was asked if he was still in contact with any of the former players from Scotland.
“It’s crazy you ask that,” he said. “Before the game, I was just getting a little exercise in and one of my teammates from the Claymores is now actually interning as coach for the Dallas Cowboys, Aden Durde.
“At first I couldn’t remember his name, but I saw his face and he looked at me and we made eye contact. He walked around the field to me because I was on the stationary bike and he came over and then he was like ‘Ced’ and I was like ‘Aiden’. I remember him being a linebacker with the team and we reconnected and talked a little bit about the game, I wished him luck, he wished me luck – it’s a small world.
“Actually, when we all returned to our parent clubs in the States at the end of the NFL Europe season, we were all on our separate teams but there’s a few guys I met over there in Scotland who I have stayed in contact with.
“Just this past week I spoke with Nick Eason, who was a defensive lineman over here. I also stay in touch with Gerald Dixon who’s with the Buffalo Bills player personnel.
“I also had a strange reconnection as I kind of lost touch with Steve Livingstone, the GM of the Claymores and when I started working for the Jaguars, he was was actually working in the front office there – it seems like the Claymores have got guys all around the world really.”
Scott, who has worked on a Masters degree in Sports Administration, has seen the world of American Football from all sides and is convinced the fans in Europe are on par with those back in the USA.
“It’s a little different, but it’s still American Football,” he explained. “The fans are still excited and glad to have American Football over here and are very supportive.
“I went to the All Blacks rugby game the other day and I don’t know about rugby, but I was a fan; big guys running around smashing into each other, no protection.
“I compare how I was at the rugby game with the American Football fans here. Maybe a lot of them don’t understand the rules but we all see guys running around and get excited for them. The skill and the physicality of the game; the guys out there competing.
“Anybody would just like to watch guys competing at the highest craft; that’s what they do; they’re professionals, they’re pro at what they do.
“They get excited about that. It’s different over here, with soccer and rugby the fans are phenomenal and they brought that to Wembley; cheering loud, the chants. They are a lot more knowledgeable these days, it was a good experience – the guys appreciate coming over here and putting on a show; they’re very talented guys.”