London -- The first wave of the Star Tribune contigent - photographer Carlos Gonzalez (@CarlosGphoto) and me - arrived in London this afternoon (or morning, Minnesota time.)
The Vikings will arrive Tuesday morning, and we'll cover their first press conference here. Chip Scoggins and Mark Craig will join us Tuesday afternoon, and we'll provide stories, columns, notes, blog posts, photos and videos all week. Please pick up a paper or follow us on Startribune.com.
So far, I've checked into my hotel, eaten lunch at a Lebanese restaurant and taken a walk that led me to Paddington Station, which is kind of like London's Grand Central Station.
I asked a young man with a heavy beard working at the "ee'' phone store whether there was excitment in London over the Vikings' game on Sunday against the Steelers.
Here's a rough recollection of how the conversation went:
Me: Anybody talking about the NFL game?
Him: "Not really.''
Me: Do people here care about the NFL?
Him: "Not really. People here are into football, or what you call soccer. American football isn't really followed here, and it's on at odd times - late at night, when people are sleeping.''
Me: Will you watch the game?
Him: Probably not.
The time change is six hours, so the Vikings' noon kickoff (CST) will begin at 6 p.m. in London.
That's really not that late. The impression I got from the young man at the phone store was that he just didn't care about American football, and so hadn't bothered to think about why he didn't care for it.
I wrote about the Vikings' coaching staff and their impending arrival in London for the Tuesday paper. I picked up a bunch of local newspapers, and didn't see a mention of the Vikings-Steelers game or the NFL at all.
I still view the marketing of football in Europe as misguided greed. The NFL is incredibly successful in part because of its size. There are 32 teams grouped in divisions of four. While Jacksonville is a weak link because of city size, stadium quality and poor management, there isn't a franchise that can't thrive if managed intelligently.
Expand to Europe, and you add exhausting travel to the physical challenges facing NFL players. You'd probably have to alter the way the schedule works. You'd have to play games at a time that would be inconvenient either for local fans or the prime TV audience.
While I love having an opportunity to spend a week in a great city like London, I don't even think it's right to play a regular-season game here. The Vikings sacrifice a home game and add a difficult trip to their schedule, and for what?
I'm really not sure.
1500ESPN got me a phone I can use for international calls, so I'll be keeping my usual radio schedule: Noon(ish) each day with Judd@Dubay, plus calling in to Sunday Sports Talk and the last Ron Gardenhire Show of the season, 9:30-noon on Sunday.
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Thanks for reading.