Skip to main content
Raider Nation, Stand Up - View Schedule - Presented by Allegiant

England's Own Returns to Play American Football


Q: How difficult has it been living so far away for so many years?**

Watson: "In a sense it's been difficult. I think the most difficult thing is being away from family. My little daughter, that's been the hardest thing. From a kid, it's something I've always wanted to do. So, I always knew the sacrifices would come and I'd miss a lot of things, but I've been able to do a lot of things, see a lot of things, go a lot of places. I guess sacrificing them is worth it."

Q: Can you describe the moment when you first saw your daughter when you arrived back here?

Watson: "It's always special. I got to pick her up from school and gave her a big hug and a kiss. It was her birthday on Saturday, so I took her into town and spoiled her a little bit. The hardest thing, again, is always leaving her. She got a little emotional when I was leaving. I get to see her this weekend, so it's not that bad."

Q: Is this the first time you are going to see her dad play?

Watson: "Yeah. When I first started playing American football, she told her mom that she wanted to play American football. I don't think she knows what she is getting herself into, but it's special for me too."

Q: How would your assess your progress? Are you disappointed you're not starting or are you pleased with the arc of your career?

Watson: "At the end of the day, the situation is what it is. My job right now is to help us win football games. That's the bottom line. We made strides as an offense in the preseason. Unfortunately, I strained my hip flexor and my groin, and that's how this league works – next man up. So, the only thing I can control now is continuing to work my techniques like I was before and wait for my opportunity to get back on the field."

Q: How would you describe the influence of Howie Long on your career?

Watson: "I met Howie Long when I was in junior college, and I played with his son Kyle. Kyle is a brother to me and Howie is like an uncle. He told me from the first day he met me about my ability and just told me to stay working, constantly improving and to be patient. That's something he just told me out there on the field just now. I value everything he says because nobody did it like Howie did it. It's important, and I've had a few guys like Will Anderson, who have been guys in my ear and in my corner. You can't ask for guys like that. Not everyone has the opportunity to pick those guys' brains. So, it's important."

Q: You had a chance to speak with British boxer David Haye after practice. What did he say to you?

Watson: "We were just chatting it up. I love boxing, obviously, and he's at the top of the game. We were just talking about my affiliation with Amir Kahn and the trainer, Virgil Hunter in California. I told him I work out a little bit. We exchanged numbers, so next time he is out in America, maybe we'll get in the gym."

Q: When you were up in Manchester in July, you talked about this game. Now that it's here, does it feel real? Is this what you wanted it to be?

Watson: "We're not where we wanted to be. Obviously, coming here, we wanted to be 3-0. So, it takes the sting away a little bit, but we have a great opportunity to go out there and get a win against a good football team. So, it's surreal, and my teammates are excited. Hearing them talk and of them trying to do their English accents is fun. It's a moment I'll remember forever."

Q: How much have you had to educate your teammates about football vs. soccer?

Watson: "First of all, I am not calling it soccer. That's what they know. But just to not get any confusion, they're all excited … I know a couple of them wanted to get an opportunity to go into town and catch one of the teams. I know Chelsea plays tonight. But, obviously we have work to do so it's not going to happen. I've been schooling them in a lot things, but obviously I'm not from down here. They've all been asking, 'What's going on, and how long is this and how far is this.' Listen, I'm not from here. I'm from Manchester. It might be a small country, but there is a big difference between London and Manchester. But, I'm trying to help them as much as I can."

Q: Did you ever think that Wembley Stadium would be a place that you would play?

Watson: "No, definitely not American football. As a kid, we all had dreams to play in the Premier League and stuff. Playing in the FA Cup in Wembley was always something you dreamed of as a kid. American football wise, no. Not even after I got drafted. I watched the Steelers out here last year vs. Minnesota and then I didn't really think until the schedule came out. It's like a dream really."

Q: Manchester City plays tonight and Saturday. How will you keep up with those games?

Watson: "We're always going for the win. I see the other day Manchester United didn't do so good. I was back home and my brother picked me up in the day time and he had the paper in his car. I turned right over to the back page. I see Chelsea 1-1, and United lost 5-2 or 5-2. Yeah, that was a good result." (laughing)

Q: Did you see Joey Barton was here as well?

Watson: "No, was he? Stop it. I didn't get to see him. Joey Barton is a tough guy. I followed him in his City days and when he was at Newcastle. I used to grow up watching him too. Hopefully he is still around."

Q: How do you think the NFL could maybe encourage some of the youngsters to take up a sport more in the U.K.?

Watson: "Sports is a great opportunity. For me growing up, if I never played basketball, I probably would have never left Manchester. When I was 15, I was in [inaudible], and I was in Northampton. We got to go to London and things like that. A lot of people where I am from, you don't really leave Manchester. It's a great opportunity to travel to meet people. Diversity breaks those barriers and ethnic background, so American football is just another one of those. It's a unique sport in terms of everyone has their own individual jobs to do, but you have to think about your teammates while you're trying to do your job because if you don't do your job or slack on plays, you're compromising the integrity of the whole team. I consider it like one of the most team sports in the world pretty much because, like I said, if you're not doing your job you are letting down the rest of them. But at the same time, you have to concentrate on doing your jobs. It's just unique in that sense. I think that we have a lot of talent in England, a lot of athletes who if they aren't playing football, rugby, they are just not really doing anything and a lot of them can get into trouble. It's definitely a sport I think a lot of guys need to take investment into."

Q: Would you like to see an NFL team here in London and do you think it would do well?

Watson: "Yeah, I think it's a possibility. I shot an email to [NFL Commissioner] Roger Goodell, and I got to speak with him a little bit. When I was getting drafted actually I was in New York. I think more exposure, a couple more camps and stuff …  I am actually in the works of trying to get something organized in the offseason where I can come back and run a couple of camps and just introduce the kids over here to some of the stuff."

Q: In Manchester?

Watson: "Yeah, Manchester, London. Get the feet wet and get a little introduction to it. Really start to integrate over here. I think football is a sport that needs to go global. I think it can, and I think it has the opportunity to. Why not start here?

Q: Have you thought about the moment when you come into the game and they announce No. 71?

Watson: "Yeah, I did. I thought about when we were flying over. I thought about it a couple of times. Like you said, whether I am a starter or not, whenever I come in it's an important role that I've got to do and there is a job to be done. I thought about it a little bit. I was out here with Cameron Wake, so I'll be lined up over him sometimes. I was thinking about what he is going to say because I know he'll have something to say. It'll be surreal pretty much. I have a lot of family coming down too, so I am sure I'll be hearing them in the section where they are. We'll see when it gets here. I can't really dwell on that, just focus on getting this game plan down and understand what I have to do when we get out on the field."

Q: How important do you think it is for U.K. born players making that move over to the United States and into the NFL?

Watson: "It just shows what we have over here. There are some great athletes here who don't get the exposure. There is a kid right now at Texas A&M, Jermaine Eluemunor, and he is a kid who I spoke to to kind of guide him a little bit. He's excited. I told him he his goal has to be a higher draft pick than me. He's a great athlete. We do, we have those, and I think it's important that guys like us continue to do things like that and break barriers because then it opens up doors for other kids. If you think about what Luol Deng did for basketball and how much that has grown. Now we have guys like Joel Freeland playing in the league. I have a good friend, Ashley Hamilton, who is always at NBA training camps and stuff like that. Things like that are important for the exposure. It brings a lot of attention to England and eventually it will open more doors for kids."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Latest Content