By Neil Reynolds
As 70,000 fans settle into their seats and chew on hot dogs or popcorn, NFL players hidden away in the bowels of the stadium are going through their final preparations ahead of the three-hour battle that lies ahead.
And as millions more watch their favourite pre-game shows on television ahead of the big game, NFL players are going through very personal preparations behind the closed doors of their locker room.
So what really goes on in those final moments before the players from both teams emerge from the tunnel? Are players rehearsing assignments in their heads? Are they trying to stay calm? Or are they working themselves into a frenzy just seconds ahead of kicking the locker room door down?
As most mere mortals will never find themselves anywhere near an NFL roster or inside an NFL locker room so close to the start of a game, we felt it was best to ask the players themselves and have turned to members of the Wembley-bound Jacksonville Jaguars, who have now started playing preseason games in preparation for the 2013 campaign.
The Jaguars will take on the San Francisco 49ers at Wembley Stadium on Sunday October 27. So what kind of mood and atmosphere will take over their locker room just moments before the action unfolds on the field?
“The mood in the locker room really depends on the player. Some guys do different things. Some are listening to heavy metal music and others are more relaxed. Overall, there is a sense of energy when you’re going out to play a game in the NFL because everybody is completely excited because you’ve worked all week to get to that point and you just want to go out and play.” -
“It’s intense. You have some guys listening to music, others are pacing back and forth and then there are guys yelling to themselves. It’s like a nut-house in there but it kind of seems normal to you. I don’t know how, but on gameday that kind of behaviour just seems normal.” –
“It’s different from player to player. Some guys are excited and others are quiet and in the zone. For me, I just keep to myself. I do the same things each week at the stadium and then when I get on the field, it’s go time.” –
“I’m quiet before a game. I’m a calm-before-the-storm kind of guy. I like to calm my nerves and get my thoughts together. I’m extremely focused. Other guys are yelling and running around like wild animals. I’m more reserved and like to get my mind ready so I can play my best game out there.” –
“The atmosphere changes in our locker room at the weekend. It’s a good time being in here with the guys during the week but things change on gameday. The nerves are amped up a little more and the volume of the music goes down a little bit. Everybody gets into that mindset to be ready for the game.” –