New York Giants Legend, Carl Banks Chats American Football in UK, Anthony Dablé, and More

American Football International caught up with Super Bowl winning New York Giants linebacker Carl Banks whilst he was London on broadcasting duties when the Giants play the Los Angeles Rams today.

We caught up with Mr. Banks as he was in the midst of attending a Wilson® (official football provider for the NFL) launch event for the new smart football and speaking engagements in Oxford, England. Banks is busy in the lead up to Sunday’s game, the second of three games to be played across the pond this season and the very first ever to be played at Twickenham Stadium.

Banks will be serving in his official capacity as a broadcaster for the Giants this weekend and made some time to speak with American Football International about his impressions on the growth of the sport beyond American borders.

NFL Beyond London?

While it’s clear that the NFL has laid some serious groundwork in London, and soon we’ll be watching Monday night games in Mexico City, it will be interesting to see where marketing and engagement efforts will be commencing next.

“The seeds have been planted here in London and the NFL will continue to cultivate that in the UK. I think perhaps there will be activity in Asia next, though UK is the focus for now.” As Banks points out, several NFL team owners have an affinity for London – e.g. Jacksonville Jaguars owner (Shahid Khan) “loves it there and wants home games here,” and Osi Umenyiora, the retired defensive end for the Giants, now serving as an ambassador to London for the NFL.

Global Footprint

“It is absolutely a growing sport and when you think about the best way to grow a sport – any sport – it is from the bottom up,” Banks says. He states that it’s essential to have the professional games being played (in and outside of the U.S.) to allow the youth to observe and learn. At the same time, it’s also so that the game can remain aspirational for the youth, just as it was for him when he grew up playing and watching the pros on the televised fields.

There are roughly 200 clubs in the UK alone playing American football right now, and an existence of organized federations governing the game in 80 countries around the world.

“Grassroots efforts must continue at the top levels and those games showcased around the world, but at the youth level is where it grows.”

Viability of European League Players in the NFL

When asked about the focus on up-and-coming players outside of the U.S., Banks simply notes, “It’s awesome. It speaks to the advancement of the sport and the true growth of its impact that they (other countries) can develop players that can qualify to be players in the U.S..”

One such example is French American football player, Anthony Dablé, with whom Banks spent some time during the Giants’ training camp this season. Dablé is a “nice young man. He just has to keep working at it – he knows the next steps for himself and that’s a tribute to his hard work.”

Banks maintains that polishing fundamentals is key for these and all players coming to the NFL or playing in any professional leagues. “As another example outside of American football, the best soccer players out there are those who are fundamentally sound. You must develop these core basics first so your skill set can grow.”

The ‘Other’ Football

Though Banks is in London on official business and traveling with the Giants team for now, he vows to be back in London town soon enough as a spectator of his favorite Premier League team.   Who might that be, we wondered? “I’ll say this – I root for Manchester United, but my heart is with West Ham United.”

Final Predictions

Banks is excited for more American football in London and says it will undoubtedly continue to grow in other parts of the world. As for Sunday’s game, perhaps unsurprisingly, he says the win will go to the Giants. It’ll be a tough game, but the Giants will be the victors.

“Did you really think I would say Rams?!”

Kristen Eskin
A seasoned communications consultant and counselor at both a global and local level, Kristen is a relative newcomer to the world of football and quickly gaining ground.
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