As part of our series in celebrating female NFL fans across the UK, I’d like to introduce you to Rachel Poulson, a Minnesota Vikings fan. Rachel shares with us how she got in to the NFL, how she made the choice of her team as well as more about her overall experience as a fan.
How I got in to American Football
Prior to meeting my partner Jon in 2009, I had no real knowledge of the NFL. I was aware of it in the sense that I knew there was a game involving an odd shaped ball, where big American guys in pads ran around a field knocking seven bales of cr*p out of each other, but that was about it. At that point, I was all about motorsport and particularly, British Touring Cars. Come to think about it, they also like to knock each other around a fair bit too…
Jon and his friend Devi had been following the NFL since they were kids, with him being a Packers fan (he picked them when they weren’t a winning team as he loves an underdog) and Devi being a Steelers fan. They would often talk football when we all met up while I stood there with a general look of confusion on my face. So, it was clearly time to investigate.
How I chose my team
I didn’t really start watching any games until Jon and I bought our house together, at which point I started watching a few when he had them on. From then, I really started to get sucked in, but in order to be fully invested, I knew I had to pick myself a team.
Finding a team that I felt a connection to turned out to be harder than I thought. Being a huge Stephen King fan and knowing where he is from, I dabbled with the idea of the New England Patriots, but I can’t say I was really feeling them as a team. Then I saw the series of Hard Knocks which followed the Cincinnati Bengals, and that gave me my first opportunity to see a team outside of a game and get to know some of the players. I particularly liked Margus Hunt and still follow his career now. So, the Bengals became a possible. But then I discovered the Minnesota Vikings.
Now, I’m a little bit obsessed with all things Viking in general (I blame the Danish heritage on my Father’s side of the family), so that basically, was that. It also didn’t do any harm that they wore purple. Something clicked and I was off. I had the team app on my phone and greedily hoovered up as much information as I could on the team, Jared Allen became my hero and even though they were rather terrible (this was 2012/2013), I loved them.
I didn’t get to see the Vikings face the Steelers at Wembley in 2013, but even though the Steelers lost, Devi was still kind enough to bring a Vikings flag back for me. Following that, a rather large order of goodies was ordered from Fanatics, my hair magically (or rather, with the aid of much bleach and dye all over the bath…) turned purple and I ordered Sky Sports for the first time in my life, just so we could watch more games. That ended up being replaced by Game Pass so we could watch even more. Sunday evenings during the NFL season became weekly meet ups with Jon, Devi and I all eating pizza and shouting at the TV, and Mondays after the Super Bowl became a no-go as far as work was concerned.
Watching my team play live
In 2017, I finally got to go to my first game when the Vikings played the Browns at Twickenham, and I had the time of my life! From seeing the Vikings up close as the team buses drove right past me as the team arrived, to watching them all warm up, and then the pure excitement of the game, I loved every second. I met so many fans that had made the trip all the way from Minneapolis to see their team play in London and they were all incredible. We had a whole family of them sat behind us at the game, all Vikings fans except one girl’s boyfriend who was a Packer’s fan, and who I swear sat himself behind Jon as an act of solidarity. They went to great lengths to tell me all about the new stadium, what game day is like for them and how much I would love it there.
Next year we’re planning a trip to America to see both of our teams play at their home stadiums and to take in the cities from which they both come. If everyone we meet there turn out to be like the people we met at Twickenham, we’re in for one hell of a trip!
Interested in being featured in our blog series celebrating female NFL fans? Send your story along with any photos you wish to share, to [email protected].