As he prepares to take the field in the final of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, we look back on England prop Kyle Sinckler’s love affair with the NFL…
When did you first start watching the NFL?
I first started watching about three or four years ago and immediately took a keen interest in it. I’ve been a fan ever since.
How did you become interested?
It was through word of mouth more than anything. I’d always been aware of American Football of course but I never really watched it. A few of my team mates at Harlequins said I should watch it and I started with NFL Red Zone on Sundays. Once I got a hang of the rules I realised what a cool sport it is.
Have you ever played?
I’ve never had the chance to play but I would love to give it a go. I don’t know what position I would play just yet!
Who is your team?
I’d have to go with the Oakland Raiders but I love following the sport in general and watching as many of the teams as I can.
Who is your all-time favourite player?
My all-time favourite player, that’s a tough one … There are a few, like Ray Lewis who is a legendary player. He hits hard which I like and he’s a good leader on the field too.
Tom Brady – “The Goat” – has won four Super Bowl titles which you can’t really argue with.
I also like Mike Singletary because I enjoy watching middle linebackers and he is a Hall of Famer. I liked his dedication to the game.
Jerry Rice as well who also won four Superbowls with the 49ers before missing out on a fifth with the Raiders.
You can probably tell I don’t have one single favourite but I take a keen interest in seeing how those kinds of guys prepare themselves and how hard they work in order to become the best.
Who is your favourite coach?
I like Rex Ryan, I think he’s pretty cool [but] Bruce Arians is probably my favourite coach, I think I’d get along with him. My favourite all-time owner/coach is Al Davis who created the Raiders and everything the franchise stands for.
Have you ever been to an NFL game?
I’ve been to a few of the games held in the UK at Wembley Stadium. The first one was pretty special and I’d love to go over to America and watch a game live, it would be an amazing experience.
If you were in charge of the NFL, what would you do?
I’d like to get a London team involved. Obviously there would be a lot in terms of logistics which would need sorting first, such as where they would play their home games, the travel for away games and what conference they would start in. You can see the following that the sport has when the games are hosted in the UK; there is a strong fan base here so a successful London team would be brilliant.
What’s the single best moment you’ve seen in a match?
I can’t really look past Super Bowl LI and the Patriots’ comeback from a ridiculous deficit to win it in overtime. Again with the Patriots, Malcolm Butler’s interception was unreal – it was the last play of the game and he read it on the goal line to win the match.
Looking further back, there was the New York Giants against the Patriots in the Super Bowl, with the Mario Manningham catch and then David Tyree’s catch which won the title for the Giants.
It’s a sport which generates a lot of ‘wow’ moments with a lot of big hits too which I enjoy.
Who is the most frightening player you have ever seen?
I’d say someone like big Vince Wilfork, he’s around 300lbs which is huge. Brian Orakpo when he first came out of the draft was also lifting a ridiculous amount of weight.
If you were playing in the NFL, which number would you wear?
I’d stick to three. I wear the number three shirt for Harlequins so it has a great meaning for me!
Why do you love the NFL?
I love the charisma of the sport and the passion of the players, the coaches and the fans. I like the way they celebrate after the plays – even if it looks a bit over the top it’s good to see the players enjoying themselves. I also love the drama of the games themselves, nine times out of 10 a match will go right down to the wire and you can see how significant each of the plays are. A whole season can come down to just one play which makes it so exciting to watch.
This article originally appeared in Issue XXXI of Gridiron magazine – for individual editions or subscriptions, click HERE