Linebacker/Defensive End James Cowser
*Linebacker/Defensive End James Cowser is spending a few weeks in Asia, participating in an internship with the NFL China. While he's abroad, he's documenting his experience for Raiders.com.
By James Cowser
With a little over a week in the books here now, I've started to get a feel for how things are running out here, and what they want me doing. It's been so much fun; I don't think you understand how good of a time I've been having out here. Now don't get me wrong, they've been working me super hard, I've been going from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. some days. We're doing a lot, but it's exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to get a feel for everything, I wanted to see everything, I wanted to do everything, and they're giving me that exact opportunity, and I'm very grateful for that.
First thing I wanted to touch on is the office, the NFL China office, it is a small office with not very many people. There's maybe like six people that are here full-time, then six to eight with interns, not including me. These people here work so hard, they are so diligent in what they do, they care so much, the majority are Chinese nationals, the director is an American, and then there's another lady that's "ABC" (American born Chinese).
Other than that, these are Chinese people that are just passionate about the game, passionate about their work, and they do great things. They are faced with a task that is incredibly difficult. It is super hard to take a sport – a foreign sport – and try to make a country of people who have never seen the game before, who don't understand the game, and try to make them fall in love with it.
Not to mention all the cultural differences that there are, especially when it comes to how they view sports. They don't see sports like we do, they see it from a very different lens, so it's hard to take a sport like football and apply it to them in a way that makes them connect with it. That's the big challenge that these guys are faced with out here, how they get a bunch of people to connect with a sport emotionally to the point that it gets them to move, to act upon their feelings.
In the sense that maybe they have to wake up early in the morning to watch a game, or pull up their phone and watch it on their way to work because of the time difference. They can't sit at home on a Sunday afternoon and watch countless games, then catch Sunday Night Football, and then Monday Night Football when it's convenient.
They've got to watch the games on Monday morning on their way to work, and then Tuesday morning, and maybe they'll catch a Friday morning game when it's our Thursday night game. So it's a little bit more difficult for them to watch it because of the time slots, when the normal games are like one in the morning and four in the morning for them, so that's a little difficult to do.
The people here in this office do an incredible job, and they're actually quite effective at what they do. They're up to about, what they said, 19-20 million people that call themselves fans now, and maybe a million and a half of them are watching games every week. That's crazy. They're doing an incredible job.
Shanghai is amazing, the people are super cool, they're very kind people who speak a language that I don't understand. It's called "Shanghainese," that's what they call themselves, cause every city, every little area has their own dialect. "Shanghainese" to me sounds Japanese, it's just out there. When it gets explained to you it makes sense, but when I'm listening to it on the street it just sounds strictly like Japanese, and so I have no idea what's going on.
The people are cool and they all speak Mandarin, don't worry, but they speak "Shanghainese" on top of that. The city is gorgeous, it's just a cool mix of old time China with some of the coolest, new, modern skyscrapers you've seen. If you look up Shanghai, you'll see a pearl tower, that skyline is incredibly well done, and it's awesome to see in person.
Lastly, the thing I want to comment on is the food. The food is so good out here, like in my other video, it is not Panda Express food. You're getting flavors you've never tasted before, you're getting spices that make your tongue go numb and tingle, but it feels so good.
Other than that, everything I've eaten has been pretty good, I've just been having a great time. I've been working a lot with social media people, I've run maybe eight camps now. I've been here a week and we've done eight camps, it's been crazy. There's been a few times where I've had to come up with everything, just like on the spot, "you're running the drills," and it's like, "wait what? Alright let's go, line 'em up." That's kind of how it's been, but the people out here that play the game are passionate about the game, it's just an interesting world. It's so cool to see the relatively small group of people attach themselves to a foreign sport and really love it. I know it's going to grow more and more, especially with the group they've got working in this office here, it's going to keep growing until it's something spectacular.
If you'd like to read Cowser's first journal entry, click here.