SEATTLE — It was winter 1995 in the Pacific Northwest. I had triumphantly conquered Seattle with Spacehogs' sold out show at the DV8 the night before. After a night of high jinx and excess, I was now sitting in the old Kingdome watching the Seahawks play my adopted New York Giants.
Feeling decidedly green around the gills I was hoping for the kind of fresh air you would get at an English football game. But it was not to be as the roof of the stadium enclosed around us sealing us into some kind of centrally heated spaceship.
That was the beginning of my curiosity and innate inability to understand American Football.
Living in Seattle now, it seems like the Seahawks dominate the sporting consciousness of the city. Every other car sports dual "12th Man" flags and come Sunday the whole city will grind to a standstill to see if their team can make it to a second consecutive Super Bowl.
But it's not always been that way, as Les Carpenters' fascinating article in The Guardian describes. To paraphrase, they were doomed as a local entity until Paul Allen at Microsoft and a consortium of soccer enthusiasts later to become the Seattle Sounders, stepped in. Allen held a statewide referendum to stop the franchise moving to California, by proposing a new stadium be built locally. The soccer community stepped in to tip the balance, with assurances they could share what is now the Century Link Field.
That’s the part I understand.
As well as the rules, the constant stopping and starting and the uniforms, there are other confusing elements to America’s defining contact sport. For a country so wary of what they call "Socialized Medicine," I find the draft compensates the lesser teams in a way not seen in other sports or other areas of society for that matter.
You need only look at Manchester City or the New York Yankees to see how money changes everything.
Similarly, The Green Bay Packers is a great example of sport run by the people, for the people, as a non profit. It is noteworthy that they too formed in 1919 like my beloved Leeds United!
With all this confusion, and a willingness to adapt to my adopted country, I have attended many a Super Bowl party. Asking the usual dumb Brit questions. The same quips about the 'outfits' and the padding. A keen enthusiasm to drink beer and pick at the food table, waiting patiently for the half time show.
If you've got this far you're presumably not looking for any sort of critique or preview of the big game. But I'll raise a toast to the Green Bay Packers from the deli tray, dreaming of a fifth Super Bowl in 2015.
Jonny Cragg was born in Hythe England on July 18th 1966. Raised and educated in Yorkshire he chose Leeds as his spiritual home. Whilst at school he learned to play the drums, playing in local bands until opting to study Psychology at the University of East London in 1985.
Almost by accident his first job after graduation was back behind the drums for Leeds band The Hollowmen. They recorded four studio albums, signed to Arista Records, and toured extensively throughout Europe. A press trip to New York served to strengthen his resolve to move to the States, and that finally happened in the Spring of 1993. By the following year, Cragg had formed Spacehog with a group of Leeds expatriates in The Lower East Side: The group went onto sell millions of records, and tour the world to great success. He remains active in the group having made four studio albums to date.
Jonny is also a session musician, producer, writer, DJ and educator. His credits include: The Pierces, Supergrass, Edie Brickell, The Utah Saints, David Johansen and Richard Butler and Marty Wilson Piper, HBO, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
He has two daughters, Laila and Domino, and lives with his partner in Seattle.