Nick Folk on Thierry Henry, rugby and Wembley

by Andrew McSteen

Following the New York Jets 27-14 AFC East Divisional win against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in London, the Jets placekicker Nick Folk – who scored two field goals and three PATs – spoke to A Head For The Game from the Jets locker room about the match, London and the other two types of football; rugby football and ‘soccer’.

A Head For The Game: A win going into the bye week – a successful business trip?

Nick Folk:  It’s been a good start to the season for us at 3-1, but we hoped to be 4-0. We played well today so it was good to go into the bye week with a win.

We’re just excited for the players we have in the room; we’ve got a good group of guys with a lot of vets and a lot of young guys.

They all like to put in the work so I think we’ll be alright this season – we’re just excited to be heading into a bye week with a win and we’ll get onto the Redskins game when we get back to work.

A Head For The Game: The Jets gave away 14 penalties for 163 yards in the match, but you entered it with 18 penalties for the whole season, tied for second-fewest in the NFL – does that concern you?

Nick Folk:  There’s some penalty stuff we’ve got to work on – we’ve got to make sure we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot as we had some stops on drives and we’ve got to keep them alive – but only if we don’t get as many penalties.

After any game there’s always stuff to clean up; my field goal stuff, kick off stuff and as special teams we played OK today as a group – we did what we needed to do but we can definitely do a lot better.

You’ve got to work on your craft to be the best that you can be.

A Head For The Game:  As a kicker, does it bring you extra excitement to play at the home of English football, where the rules of the game live?

Nick Folk:  I am a big soccer fan and know not this Wembley but also the ‘old’ Wembley – I watched the FA Cup Final on TV here all the time as well as watching England play.

Its fun as any time England play in front of their own fans its fun to watch because they’re going nuts the whole time.

I’m actually a Manchester United fan – a lot of people aren’t going to like that – but I have a little reasoning for that as I got a private tour of Old Trafford when I was at High School so I have been hooked on them ever since.

A Head For The Game: Is it true that you are a member of the fan club of the Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls?

Nick Folk:  Yes, I’m a Red Bulls supporter but first and foremost it’s Manchester United.

I go to watch New York as much as I can but I have three young kids at home now. Before we had kids we went all the time and I met Thierry Henry a few times and got to play a little bit with him and kick the ball around which was fun.

Thierry was going to try and help me get tickets for the Arsenal v Manchester United game but it ended up getting moved for the Champions League and clashed with today so I couldn’t go.

A Head For The Game: The 2015 Rugby World Cup is currently underway in England with games taking place at Wembley Stadium, have you been following it? Do you watch rugby? Can you see similarities with the kickers in rugby and your job in the NFL?

Nick Folk:  There are a few similarities, but there’s less ‘moving parts’ in rugby – they put the ball on the tee the whole time.

What I want to ask the kickers in rugby is why don’t they do what the NFL guys do all the time and make their angles perfect?

When I take my three steps back I pick my spot, the target and today there was no wind, so I picked a spot right in the middle and then I took a 90 degree angle so my starting spot is the same every time, but for the rugby guys they kind of go off of their feel – you watch some of them, they start on one spot and move a little bit, so I just want to ask them that.

Every new stadium I just come in for the walkthrough because everything changes; the weather changes in minutes. You’ve got to trust what you feel out there and just go with that.

We actually had a guy on the Jets who now plays for the US national rugby team – Hayden Smith – so I follow them a little bit.

I played with a guy in Dallas, an Australian punter called Mat McBriar, and he got me into Australian Rules a little bit so I know a little bit of both games.

We watched some of the rugby the other night as a team – its fun to watch.

A Head For The Game: Did it feel like a home game with all the Jets fans making themselves heard in the stadium?

Nick Folk:  The Jets supporters travelled well; they came with their ‘A’ game – obviously the Dolphins supporters travel well too, but with us as the away team we had a limited number of tickets the Jets fans went out and got as many as they could.

Even the English, neutral fans were great too who came. Listening to them sing their national anthem was fun. It was a great experience, I really enjoyed it and I hope I’ll be back soon.

A Head For The Game: Are these International Series games ‘just another game’ or are they still quite strange for the teams?

Nick Folk:  The NFL enjoys these games, it’s becoming a global brand and they’re really enjoying it – I think there will be more.

If it’s just here at Wembley or maybe Tottenham’s new stadium which has two a year – maybe they will branch out into Paris or Berlin or Munich into some other big stadium cities.

I’m just excited I got to play a game of football at Wembley.

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