Breaking Ground: First Ever NFL Black Friday Game Celebrated With Manchester Watch Party
By Simon Carroll
Thanksgiving. A time for giving thanks, obviously. But for what? Family? Food? Faith for some? Well, how about football – as much a religion to some as any deity out there. America’s pastime has been associated with their most famous holiday season ever since Yale & Princeton started a tradition on the date back in 1876. Since then, Thanksgiving has been adopted by the NFL, with the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys hijacking TV screens in particular. Now, the fourth Thursday in November is as synonymous with football as it is turkey.
Headlined by Sky Sports’ comprehensive coverage of the NFL on these shores, the football fans in the UK have embraced this Thanksgiving tradition with relish, enjoying three games on a Thursday instead of just one. Vivid images of Cecil Martin in his chef hat carving an outrageously big bird in between touchdowns live long in the memory. And if that wasn’t enough football for you, things are about to get even better…
In 2023, things go one step further – with the league introducing the first ever Black Friday game the day after Thanksgiving. The New York Jets welcome the Miami Dolphins to MetLife Stadium in an AFC East matchup, and of course will be simulcast by Sky for British consumption. To celebrate the event, Sky Sports NFL will be taking its live coverage of the game on the road, with the team of Neil Reynolds, Phoebe Schecter, Jason Bell, Jeff Reinebold and Hannah Wilkes broadcasting live from Manchester.
The Sky Sports NFL team isn’t coming alone. For any Gang Green fans in attendance, they’ll have the opportunity to speak to a former Jets player. Safety Erik Coleman enjoyed nine seasons in the NFL, the first four of which were spent in New York. A fifth round pick out of Washington State back in 2004, Coleman played 63 games for the Jets, recording an incredible 372 tackles and 7 interceptions – including one pick each in his first two games as a pro. A versatile defensive back who blended hard hitting with ball skills, Coleman is fondly remembered by Jets fans, even to this day through his TV and radio work around the team.
Coleman himself is excited about joining his fellow Jets fans to celebrate the first Black Friday game in NFL history – particularly when it sees his former team take on a division opponent:
“I am really excited to be in the UK to celebrate one of the biggest rivalries in the NFL. The Jets have an extremely knowledgeable and proud fan base in the UK, and I can’t wait to meet all our fans in Manchester and hopefully cheer the team on to a huge win!”
Every game involves two teams, and the Miami Dolphins will also have a strong contingent of fans in attendance for the meetup. Dolphins Vice President of Brand Marketing Mike Shaw also expressed his excitement in being involved in a brand new event on the NFL’s international calendar:
“We are thrilled to team up with the New York Jets to host this special event for our UK fans to celebrate this milestone and incredible matchup. We look forward to meeting our fans as we find new ways to bring the game of football and engage with our fans internationally.”
Sky Sports NFL editor Cameron Hogwood echoed the sentiments of both Coleman and Shaw, relishing the opportunities for the fans that further collaboration between the league and the UK broadcaster delivers:
“Friday’s Watch Party is yet another celebration of the incredible interest in football across this country, but also further evidence of the ever-expanding possibilities facing the NFL with regards to the way it engages with its fans.
It’s so exciting and so special that Sky Sports are able to provide coverage of a historic game in the company of those who have played such a vital role in its growth. While the optics will be loud and fans enjoying a party in various jerseys, you can bank on that room in Manchester being filled with plenty of deep-rooted knowledge.”
Through co-hosting the Watch Party, the Jets and Dolphins hope to strengthen their connections with new and existing fans in the UK, where they each have marketing rights through the NFL’s Global Markets Program.
Want to be part of the NFL’s first ever Black Friday Watch Party? Well great news – you can! Head down to Shooters Bar, Bierkeller on Manchester on Friday 24th November. With doors opening at 5.00pm and KO at 8.00pm, those in attendance will be able to take in the game and the unique NFL atmosphere, enjoy American themed food, and meet other passionate fans with a love of the NFL or a curiosity to discover more.
Admission is £10 per person, and every ticket includes one free drink and one light meal. 100% of the proceeds from the event will go to the NFL Foundation UK, which launched in 2021. The charity aims to tackle inequality and lack of opportunity faced by young people aged 11-20 in underserved communities across the UK, including right here in Manchester.
To purchase tickets and for more information on the evening, click here. And to keep updated on the Jets and Dolphins’ visit to Manchester and to be the first to hear about their upcoming activities in the UK, make sure to follow them both on Twitter @NYJetsinUK and @Dolphins_UK.
See you down there!
PREVIOUSLY THE FOUNDER OF NFL DRAFT UK, SIMON HAS BEEN COVERING THE NFL, COLLEGE FOOTBALL AND THE NFL DRAFT SINCE 2009. BASED IN MANCHESTER, SIMON IS ALSO CO-CREATOR & WEEKLY GUEST OF THE COLLAPSING POCKET PODCAST.