As Americans, we're raised (or at least encouraged) to think a lot of funny things about Brits. They are stodgier than us and proper-er than us, and conversely, when they get silly (see Python, Monty), they are much sillier than us. But particularly when it comes to sport, they are quite different from us. Or so we're led to believe...
Take cricket, for example, an endless comedy of manners without any punchlines, played by opposing teams who wear apparently identical uniforms. It is wholly incomprehensible to most of us on this side of the Atlantic, who despite a massively common gene pool are completely lacking in British understanding of etiquette.
For four years I worked for a Britisher, not the proper-est of gentleman but a good guy nonetheless, and following cricket was in his blood. I understood the passion, but completely blanked on the concept of the sport itself. Meanwhile, he bemoaned the fact that his children, being raised in the US, wanted to try out for their school's volleyball team. If it wasn't soccer (the true football, of course), it wasn't fit for a youngster.
This cultural divide just seemed natural to me. I expect these kinds of differences in viewpoint when meeting someone from another land. So much so that the whole phenomenon of natural-born Brits falling in love with American Football and the Rams in particular just seems ... foreign I suppose?
But that said, Twitter quickly set me straight, as I've met a number of knowledgeable fans from the Commonwealth. In honor of our team making its debut appearance in London, I decided to reach out to the group and ask: How did you become a Rams fan anyway?
The Old Schoolers - Playoff Greatness (or lack of it)
@DurhamGooner: 1984 wild card game vs the Giants live on UK TV. Fave player was Dickerson so chose the Rams! (They lost).
Here's a true die-hard. I became a Rams fan in 1996 when they moved to St Louis, but of course I knew who Eric Dickerson was in his prime. He was a beast, plain and simple. But any fan of the Rams since then has seen more than his share of hard times...
@DurhamGooner: 1st QB I saw was Dieter Brock. I still wake up in cold sweats.....
and this one has endured them from farther away than most.
@DurhamGooner: So after 28 years I get to see my 1st live Rams game on Sunday.
For others, though, things get a little more complicated.
@SombreEthyl: When I was at high school all who liked NFL were glory hunters who followed 49ers, I chose divisional rival with awesome unis. So, been a Rams fan since '89 when they were back in LA. I adored Jim Everett.
The Glory Hunters (not that there's anything wrong with that)
The Greatest Show on Turf kindled (or rekindled) a love for football among a lot of fans. It was, and I'm being totally unbiased here, perhaps the purest and most aesthetically pleasing form of the sport to ever grace a television set. Should we be surprised that their reach extended well beyond the oceans?
@OfficialMick: First thing I ever saw of the NFL were 3 touchdowns by Isaac Bruce in a first quarter. I knew at that moment Rams were my team!
@rampower: the person who introduced me to the sport was a Rams fan - a Brit, who changed teams to the Vikings, then Falcons and now Packers. I stayed with my team!
The New Breed - Video Games
Parents, be forewarned - movies and video games can, in fact, corrupt your children's brains. Here's proof positive:
@evilslash13: Glory hunting I guess. Found my love of the sport at the same time as the rise of the Greatest Show. :) Plus the Rams were the best team on NFL2k1 on the Dreamcast at the time lol.
@infemousss: funnily enough it was Madden 03 - uniforms & default team lol. I was young when it came out so I was easily influenced by the game. Was attracted to the NFL through the film Any Given Sunday.
Thanks to all who responded to my little ad hoc Twitter poll. You can connect with the whole group at my RamsUK list on Twitter. (Know somebody who should be on it? Let me know!)