All the updates from The Mermaid Conference Centre and Theatre in London for the Sportlobster NFL UK Fan Forum with Odell Beckham Jr from the New York Giants, Manchester’s finest and Oakland Raider Menelik Watson as well as 49er and Croydon-born Lawrence Okoye.
600 lucky fans are packed inside. Over 6,000 applied.
FULL TRANSCRIPT TO APPEAR ONLINE HERE BY MONDAY 2ND MARCH.
19:28 – The NFL Films opening video starts…..great sound system here at the Mermaid.
19.32 – Neil Reynolds intro on stage now….THREE PLAYERS due on stage.
19:40 – Lawrence Okoye is on stage too. Odell says about ‘The Catch’ – “there was no way I was going to put another hand on it.”
19:44 – First question from the audience: You’re young, rich and an NFL player, what’s it like to not be able to do everything you want?
Beckham Jr- “You have to hold yourself up to a higher standard. I’m still the same guy.”
19:48 – Fan question #2 – “Who inspired you in the NFL growing up?”
Okoye – “The current players who inspire me are JJ Watt, who should have been MVP last season, Justin Smith as well – I’ve learnt so much from him.”
19:52 – Fan question #3 – “What is it like working so hard and so long to be an NFL player?”
Watson – “I worked so hard, when others were sleeping, I was training. When others were partying, I was sleeping. College guys used to come up to me and ask me advice.”
OBJ – “When I leave the game I want to be in the same conversation as Jerry Rice.”
19:57 – Room 101 time!
Watson – “Who doesn’t like the big guys dancing?” he wants to banish rules relating to offensive linemen catching passes.
Lawrence Okoye wants to ban chop blocks and OBJ wants to banish fines. “I got fined for not having enough white in my socks, undershirt not tucked in. I lost quite a bit of money.”
20:03 – Fan question: “Will you try and beat the catch record again now it has been broken?”
OBJ – “I will try again….if it is broken technically. I am not sure if it was 10 yards the one that broke it.”
Fan question – “What about the new draft prospects? Any tips?”
Okoye – “I understand what it is like to change sports, you work hard and it now comes instinctively.”
Fan question – “Would you want to be drafted into a London franchise?”
OBJ – “I don’t know what it will be like for a player who has wanted to play in the NFL his whole life and he gets drafted and gets told he is going to London, I would play here though.”
20:10 – Fan question – “What inspires you?”
Watson – “I want to win a Super Bowl, I want to win a Pro Bowl, I want my name in the Pro Bowl. I’ve got a brother in jail and when he’s out I want to have him set up so he’s not on the streets.”
Okoye- “I was in Switzerland after the Olympics and I said to my agent ‘I want to be a footballer’, I think I’ve got past the hardest part, the start. What inspires me is to complete that mission and make everyone proud who believed in me.”
OBJ – “I remember when I was four years old, running around in shorts outside in the cold. My Mum had friends around inside and came out and asked me what I was doing. I told her ‘training for Sundays’. She could see in my eyes I was serious.”
20:22 – Watson & Okoye now going through the X’s and O’s. The ‘5’ technique. “You have to use your God-given talents, if you’re quick, use speed, if you’re powerful, use power. I am a quick and powerful man,” says Okoye.
20:28 – Neil Reynolds just asked the crowd ‘who wants to throw a pass to OBJ?” Menelik and Lawrence judged the competition.
20:37 – Fan questions now again about NFL Fantasy League and, before about differences between college and NFL football.
OBJ – “It’s neither here or there. At the beginning of the season I had people tell me they were dropping me from their fantasy leagues, that I wouldn’t do anything for them.”
20:40 – Fan question – “Pre-match rituals?”
Watson – “I get angry. I get angry at the PR guy holding us back to going out.”
Okoye – “I listen to angry South London music; Giggs, Konan.”
OBJ – “I treat every game as it could be my last. I ask myself ‘how do I want to be remembered?’. I might not be as big as these guys but I can get angry too.”
20:44 – Sportlobster questions submitted online.
‘Menelik, what do you miss most about England?’ “Eastenders and Match of the Day,” he said.
20:47 – Neil Reynolds now asking the players to finish the sentence…
‘The most intense player in our locker room is….’ “Justin Smith” says Okoye.
‘The best part of my job is….’ “Being able to inspire people” says Watson.
20:55 – Fan questio – “What advice would you give your 15 self?”Okoye – “I would ask them, do they have commitment? Are they prepared to catch 1,000 balls a week? Are they prepared to work in the dark?”
20:57 – Fan question – ‘Was the team you got drafted for the team you wanted? Or don’t you care?”
OBJ – “You do care. I was in a cab in New York, looking at all the traffic and thinking ‘I don’t want to be part of this madness’. Looking back though, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
21:00 – Another successful NFL UK Fan Night has finished. The players will now have a breather before going out to the foyer for a signing session.
Photos: NFL UK