Archive for June, 2011

UKNFL Interview- Jason La Canfora

Yes folks, we’ve snared a genuine NFL Network hero. If you’re anything like the UKNFL team you’ll spend a significant portion of your life watching NFL Network either through their channel or the NFL website. And if so, you’ll be familiar with, and be a big fan of Jason La Canfora.

Not only is he one of NFL Network’s top men, but Jason is a big tweeter, soccer lover and a lovely bloke to boot and we were thrilled when he agreed to give us an interview. So here it is…..

Hi Jason, massive thanks for giving us an interview. Working for NFL Network that must be living the dream right? Is that what you wanted to do when you got into journalism?

It is truly a blessing and I can not think of a cooler job, getting to report on football, travel to games and work alongside such a tremendous group of people, on camera and off. I always knew I wanted to be a sports journalist and was hoping to do both newspaper and TV work in my career and I’ve been lucky enough to have careers in both.

Growing up in the US (unlike over here) you must have been surrounded by football from an early age, what are your earliest memories, favourite teams and players from the NFL?

Without a doubt, football is such a big part of the culture here and I was born and raised in Baltimore, when the Colts were here and they were so tied to the fabric of the city. I remember going to training camp and games as a 4-year-old. Bert Jones was fairly iconic around these parts in the late 70s and Johnny Unitas was still always around at his restaurants. When the Colts left town I became a Chargers fan. They had such an amazing offense and I worshiped guys like Kellen Winslow, Dan Fouts, John Jefferson and Wes Chandler.

And are you, like the rest of us frustrated players, or do you much prefer watching?

At this stage of my life – I’m gettin old fast – I’d much rather watch! This is a physically demanding game and short of kicking, maybe, aint no way I would even think about trying to play in the NFL. The men who do are a rare breed.

What’s been your highlight of your time working for NFL network?

Its hard to pick one. Being on the field and sidelines for the Super Bowl is pretty hard to top, though, for our pre-game show. That’s a pretty amazing rush.

I’m guessing the current lockout¬† must be fairly frustrating (as it is for all of us) what does it mean for yourself?

I feel awful for people who have been laid off, or furloughed or had their salaries slashed because of the lockout. That’s been an unfortunate reality for a lot of everyday people who work for teams or the league office or for NFL Films or NFL Network.
For me, personally, it has stripped us of prime content like free agency, etc, and pretty much shut down the news cycle. Its been a very unusual offseason to say the least.

Where do you see the endgame of the lockout going? Do you think we’ll get a full, or any, season?

I expect a resolution in time to preserve the normal start of the season. And I think in future years the game will continue to grow and revenues will soar and this will seem like more of an economic blip.

Now away from football, followers of your twitter will know you’re also a soccer (though I’d still call it football) fan, how did that happen, who do you support and why?

I love soccer. It was my first love. Grew up playing and following it what were in many ways The Dark Ages for the sport in the US, as the NASL collapsed and well before the US hosted the World Cup and MLS began.
The US National team is who I mostly deeply support. As for club teams, its Leeds United. We just started to get Prem and Champions League games on TV here in the late 90s, and Elland Road was loaded with young talent at the time. I’ve stayed with Leeds ever since.

Can you see anyway that one sport could learn from the other, for example, could the NFL ever impose a transfer system like that of football?

Without a doubt in terms of global marketing, sponsorships, scheduling, merchandising there is a lot that could be learned. Adaptation of a salary cap model, transfer fees, etc, as well as promotion/relegation are all models that could prove educational and helpful between the two worlds of football.

If you had to pick a favourite sporting moment outside of the NFL, what would it be?

Watching US ice hockey defeat the USSR in the 1980 Olympics and watching US Soccer march to the quarterfinal in the 2002 World Cup (and very nearly the semis) are without a doubt the greatest non-NFL moments I have witnessed. Oh, and my Red Sox finally winning a World Series in 2004.

And finally, it’s a long way off even happening, but give us a sneaky superbowl prediction for next season.

Wow, that’s tough with this lockout making things wacky and with no free agency yet. I haven’t given it any thought yet, but I think New England/Green Bay would be a heck of a game. What do you think?

I agree, that would be good to watch. Thanks so much for that Jason!
A top bloke I’m sure you’ll agree. If you’re not already following @jasonlacanfora¬† on twitter. I do not know what is wrong with you. But the same applies to @UKNFL

And @JamieCutteridge

As I wrote this.