With Super Bowl 50 fast approaching, 5 Live NFL’s and Americarnage’s Nat Coombs gave us his thoughts on the big game and the growth of the NFL in the UK.
Hi Nat, You have covered many games on UK TV and Radio. Which is your favourite you have ever covered and why?
Very hard one to pick one, so I’ll throw a few out : The first International Series game I anchored (for Channel 4 last season) was pretty special for personal reasons, ditto SB49 with Mike (Carlson) and Osi (Umineyora) who are both great guys – very different – but terrific to work with. I enjoyed the games Mike & I did in the US a few years back – one live from Atlanta in my first season, which was a real hair raiser for all kinds of reasons, and the one we did from New Orleans when they played Minnesota on MNF. Great city, great crowd. Some fab memories!
Many people have put Carolina as favourites for the Super Bowl, however we know the Broncos perform well as underdogs. Who do you think will be Super Bowl champions and why?
I’ve been saying for a while that I think this may be Peyton’s season – had a hunch we hadn’t seen the last of him earlier in the season and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if this has been to some degree deliberate. He was obviously injured, but I wonder if they thought – lets blood Osweiler, he’s not going to destroy our season, we can rest Manning and preserve him for the playoffs. People will obviously point to the Denver D – and thats clearly why they have got this far – but my point is, that, in high pressure games, who better to keep a cool head than Manning, even if he is operating at around 50% of his prime. And this myth of him not being a good playoff QB? Go check his AFC Championship record.
What do you think are the keys to the game if Denver are to win?
I think their D has to be aggressive early on – make a statement, don’t let Carolina start to swagger. I think Mike made the point on our radio show about how little they blitzed against New England – I wonder if that may change. Their run game needs to be on top form as well – because of the limitations on Manning. And Peyton needs to show he can go deep early – keep Carolina on their toes, or they’ll load the box.
If Peyton wins a second super bowl, where does that place him among the all time top NFL quarterbacks?
I think he’s Top 10 – its’ always hard to call this when a number of players were doing their thing either before I was born, or too young to appreciate fully. I think rings are important in this conversation for sure – though clearly not decisive, because if he doesn’t win, and does retire, he doesn’t leave a legacy weaker than Eli’s does he?
And finally, What do you think about the growth of the NFL in the UK and where can we go from here?
It’s going from strength to strength and I hope we get more games, I really do. The fans are brilliant – loyal, literate, fun. Other sports can learn a hell of lot from UK NFL’ers.