British Bears ready for battle with Bucs

October 23, 2011 10:45:21 AM PDT
The Chicago Bears are in London, gearing up for their bout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

Sunday's showdown will be game seven of the NFL season for both teams. On Saturday, it was a walk-thru for both the Bears and the Bucs.

Also on Saturday, an NFL-sponsored rally made Trafalgar Square feel like Lincoln Square.

"It always surprises me and pleases me so much that we've come this far from Decatur, Illinois. It's wonderful," said Virginia McCaskey, the Bears principal owner.

"We were pretty fired up, so with the fan support and the love that we have here, it takes it to a whole new level," said Israel Idonije, Bears defensive lineman.

It was a stalk contrast to the inaugural British invasion a few years ago. Rafer Weigel's father Tim, a veteran sportscaster, covered it for ABC7 and a lot has changed. Londoners didn't seem to like the Bears when Tim Weigel was in town, but this weekend, several Brits said they quite liked American football.

"I don't like the time it takes and the breaks, but the actual playing, I really enjoy," one Londoner said.

Despite their growing popularity, however, Bears players still aren't household names across the pond.

"We got a chance to walk around a little bit yesterday at night to go get some dinner. People are like 'What do you do?' I say, 'I play American football.' They're like, "What?" By the end of the night, I was an arsenal soccer player," said Bears kicker Robbie Gould.

While football's most storied franchise has helped the NFL out of its English infancy, it appears some steps need to be made before football means the same thing on both sides of the Atlantic.

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