- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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LONDON -- Greetings from across the pond, as this Patriots season takes us to new and exciting places. The miles have been adding up.
As the passport was stamped early Thursday morning here, and the friendly representative at customs looked at the arrival card that read "sports reporter" under the occupation category, he said: "I can guess why you're here."
He was referencing the Patriots' game against the Rams on Sunday at Wembley Stadium. I asked him if it was viewed as a big deal.
"No, we'll be more interested in Chelsea/Manchester on Sunday at 4," he replied.
Of course, that is the type of football the locals truly love here, but the American game is catching on, too. The NFL sees the possibility for growth, and will play two games in London next season (link here).
The Patriots arrive Friday morning, while the Rams have been here since Tuesday. Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and others will hold a media availability shortly after their 7 a.m. arrival, and the tone has already been set by Brady, who said Wednesday at Gillette Stadium that this is strictly a business trip.
It was nice to meet a few Patriots fans on the Virgin Atlantic flight out of Boston on Wednesday night, and special thanks to Virgin Atlantic for their hospitality and making a Brady-like audible on an itinerary. A great travel experience.
It's remarkable to me how well Patriots fans travel. In fact, right now at the media hotel, I'm sitting next to Nick and Melissa Clucas, who have come from Syracuse for the game. Nick grew up in Peabody, Mass., and Melissa is from Syracuse, and they've been married for two years. Their fantasy teams are squaring off this weekend and Nick just pulled off a trade -- acquiring Larry Fitzgerald for Ahmad Bradshaw -- that I watched go down. A good deal? Could be an early test for the marriage.
London is currently five hours ahead of the Eastern time zone back home. The weather here feels like home. Temperatures are in the upper 50s, and it is overcast and misty today.
On Sunday for the game, the forecast currently looks like it will be in the upper 40s with only a 10 percent chance of precipitation.
Looking forward to catching up with some Patriots fans here over the next couple of days. On Saturday in Trafalgar Square (noon-5), there is NFL fan rally, and the plan is to be there as that looks like a good opportunity to meet those interested in saying hello. It would be informal and once I find a good spot that day, I'll tweet out the exact location for those around.
The plan will be to pass along some of the sights and sounds from this exciting journey over the next couple of days.
Meanwhile, colleagues Mike Rodak and Field Yates have us covered back home.