by Andrew McSteen
“When I’m doing it, it’s just another kick-off but when I look back it’s awesome,” said Jacksonville Jaguars kicker, and self-confessed soccer fan Jason Myers, about kicking off the Jaguars vs Colts match on Sunday.
The team from Florida eventually won 30-27 to get their first win of the season, but the Colts came close at the death.
“It’s a great team win, everyone played great and it’s fun to be on that side of things,” said the 25-year-old who made three field goals, three points after touchdown and four kick-offs. “When it comes down to defence or offence we’re behind both those sets of guys so we know whoever is on the field will get the job done and they did.”
In previous years numerous events have taken place on the famous old Wembley pitch and over the years A Head For The Game has spoken to a variety of kickers involved in the NFL International Series about, if any, special preparation they make to play inside the stadium on the north-west London turf.
“I played here last year,” he said. “We knew that the surface isn’t the same as what we have in America but it turned out to be better than what we thought. Wind-wise, there’s no wind, it’s great weather for London and the field felt great.”
Back in October 2015, Myers missed two game-winning field goals against the Colts to lose 16-13 in overtime at the Lucas Oil Stadium, but the former Marist College player was not overly concerned about getting revenge.
“As a player you don’t look back at that,” he said. “You learn from it and go forward but it’s nice to get a win against these guys.”
Based in New York, Marist College is in Division 1 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and as members of the Football Championship Subdivision, do not provide the spread of players for the NFL as other college leagues do, but Myers attended the college alongside Menelik Watson, the Manchester-born offensive tackle for the Oakland Raiders, who was initially on a basketball scholarship there before moving college and converting to gridiron.
“I did know him at college – he played basketball for two years while I was playing football,” said Myers. “He was in the same year as me, a great guy, but he’s in Oakland now so it’s tough to stay in contact but this year when we play them I’ll be able to say ‘what’s up’ to him.
“We don’t really get too much time to go out and about so in those terms, we just like to get ready for the game, like him, and you don’t want to bother people.
“But he’s a great guy and I look forward to playing against him later in the year.”
Travelling around the 3,000 miles across the United States of America, from California to Florida for Watson and his team for that match-up on Sunday 23 October is just under two-thirds of the 4,300 miles that Myers and his Jacksonville team travelled to London, but has the regularity of games in Europe for the Florida-based team made it easierto cope with the travel?
“The travel is long but it’s special for us to come over here,” said Myers. “A few years in a row we’ve come over here and we feel at home so it’s nice, in the locker room at the end we came together as we had a good team win which is good for everybody.”
As Myers prepared to leave the ‘home of football’ for another year, he admitted that his interest in the ‘other’ football has been a lifelong passion.
“I grew up playing football – soccer as you call it – and watching EPL (English Premier League) games every Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “I’d get home from school and watch Sky Sports News every afternoon.
“I should say I support Fulham (they have the same owner as the Jaguars), but growing up I was an Arsenal fan and I would say if I played, it would be at centre midfield or outside back.
“When I’m in the moment [playing in the NFL] it’s just any other game but after the game I like to look back because it’s special coming over here for me.”