When we landed back in New York we cried. Well, kissed the tarmac, then cried to be truthful. To return to the United States after broadcasting in a broom closet is always a psychic relief, but to return to the country we love which is now in love with the sport we love… that is an overwhelming amount of love.
And the size of American bananas… talk about a readjustment. Like divers who do not decompress properly, we almost got the bends.
Experiencing the final in the USA was everything we hoped it would be. Thousands of jerseyed Americans strolling brazenly down Broadway. Photos pouring in from Manhattan’s Upper West Side
to San Diego
to Shorewood, Wisconsin
. And a riveting game of chess for the final. As we have oft said, we’re not suggesting the tournament was fixed. But if it was, we’d applaud FIFA’s writers for dreaming a narrative as compelling as first two books of The Bible, “Great Expectations,” and the end of “Top Gun” rolled into one.
As fans, Brazil 2014 was a tale of two countries for me and Davo. England, the country of our birth, embraced defeat as if it was pre-determined and pre-programmed. But America, our adopted homeland, saw its team cheat the Group of Death and galvanize the nation in the process. The public watch parties in Chicago, Kansas City and D.C. made our nipples tingle. Even more so the way soccer permeated the hard-to-penetrate segments of American society, like Texas gun fairs
and Chattanooga hardware stores
Our work in Rio would not have been possible without your help. Your Ravens/Toucans, Tweets
, Facebook messages, photos
and creative artwork
provided us with endless entertainment and hours of content. We will be forever indebted to all GFOPs for your help, suggestions, and support.
Before we left for Brazil a month ago, we wrote that each World Cup is a jewel in our lives. This one was even more special because we got to share our experiences with you via television, pod, blog and social media. We arrived home last week -- via ocean going steamer -- to an America still engrossed in the drama of Brazil 2014, and on the precipice of the Guinness International Champions Cup, a tournament that will allow us to see some of Europe’s biggest clubs and the players we most like to play on EA Sports FIFA.
We have to say, it’s good to be home. Here’s our final video memory of 32 days spent in Brazil and here is our World Cup Final podcast which analyzes the final, Brazil’s collapse, and reveals the selection of our 6 Men who Blew us Away.
WE WILL SHARE OUR WORLD CUP WITHDRAWAL TOGETHER AMERICA. With your help, we can beat this terrible scourge.
On behalf of
I. Our World Cup Runneth Over
During the World Cup, we produced no shortage of suboptimal ramblings and writings. The General Bob Ley (a man whose cologne smells of the Battle of Yorktown) was kind enough to rent us his Panic Room for our broadcasts. It was from this 9’ by 6’ closet we experienced emotions that only football can produce. We celebrated The Great Escape from Group G, tried to cheer America up after the loss to Belgium, and laughed at the German freekick comedy routine that took the soccer world by storm. Every piece of content we produced during the World Cup is still available on our ESPNFC.com blog.
Rog also was invited to narrate an essay
for CBS Sunday Morning about the rise of football over the past 20 years in America (Warning: it contains frightening shots of Rog aged 20 WITH hair).
Rog with Bora and Alexi
II. Guinness International Champions Cup Rolls Onto Our Shores
The World Cup may be finished, but football in America throbs on. July 24 marks the start of the Guinness International Champions Cup (GICC). The tournament brings eight of Europe’s most storied football clubs (AC Milan, Inter Milan, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Olympiacos, Real Madrid, Roma) to 13 North American cities (Ann Arbor, Mich.; Berkeley, Calif.; Charlotte; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Miami; Minneapolis; New York City; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Toronto; Washington, DC).
It’s a rare chance for us to see some of Europe’s best players up close. Spain, England, Italy and Portugal’s early World Cup exits mean GICC rosters are loaded with stars. If you’ve always wanted to compare the line that divides Cristiano Ronaldo’s abs to the part in his hair, the GICC is your chance to do it in person. Wayne Rooney, Sergio Ramos, Steven Gerrard, Mario Balotelli, David Silva, Daniele De Rossi and Luka Modric are also expected to take part. The Thickening.
Tickets are still available and can be purchased by going to the Guinness International Champions Cup website. We will be going to watch Manchester City play Liverpool at Yankee Stadium.
III. Some Magical Follows For The English Premier League Season
1. Daniel Taylor (@DTguardian) is an extremely talented writer, high on compelling narrative, low on hyperbole.
2. Raphael Honigstein (@honigstein) covers the Premier League from a German perspective and is one of the most intelligent gents covering the game.
3. Michael Cox (@zonal_marking) is a remarkable bloke you wish you could be.
4. Amy Lawrence (@amylawrence71) captures the human emotion of English football culture.
5. Henry Winter (@henrywinter
) is considered to be, and carries himself as, the Gold Standard.
IV. Our Very First Reddit AMA
We recently participated in our first Reddit AMA. It was brilliant to connect with so many GFOPs and answer your questions. If you missed last week’s AMA, we’ve compiled some of our favorite questions here. You can also read through the full-version.
V. The Song That Came Out of Nowhere
It's hard to get out of your mind
VI. Some Suggested Additions To Your Library, If You Still Read Books
The end of a World Cup leaves a hunger for fans old and new. We receive a lot of requests for book recommendations. Here are a few that seemed appropriate after Brazil 2014: “On Penalties,” “Futebol: Soccer: The Brazilian Way,” “Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer,” “The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer.”
VII. Instagram Has Never Been Uglier
Men in Blazers is now on Instagram. Give us a follow here and let us know if you want to request any particular shots. The boys are very flexible subjects. Davo is double jointed. If scruffy Englishmen don’t interest you, worry not. We also post pictures of arm wrestling champ Bob Ley, a selfie with the entire ESPN Team, Lalas’s Smithsonian-bound Red Shows, as well as the mighty “Size The Day” Bora.
VIII. An Eagle-Eyed #GFOP Asks Davo:
Eric Buschelman asks: As two of your 12 viewers, my wife and I would like to know what are the board games on the shelves in Davos office. We only have one set of Apples to Apples ourselves -- why does Davo find it necessary to have two sets? This seems curious.
IX. An Urgent Raven
Davo responds: Well noticed. I actually do not have two copies of "Apple to Apples" but rather "Manzanas con Manzanas," the Spanish edition of the game. I also have a copy of "Wits and Wagers," "Scene It," "HouseHunters Bingo," "BezzerWizzer," and most valuable of all, an original "The $64,000 Question Quiz Game." I used to hold the rights to Apples and $64,000 Question. All the others were either pitched to me as TV shows or gifts.
From Ben Rubin in DC: Do we know who those women are that show-up at major tournaments to present the winners and runners-up medals? Are they flight attendants from the FIFA plane? Did Sepp hire them so he could he could use them as back-up dancers while he played the role of Robert Palmer in his version of a "Simply Irresistible" video. Actually, I hope that's the answer.
Rog writes: Ben. We love the idea of Blatter reliving Robert Palmer's fantasy life (this reunion of Palmer's original backing band blows your mind like Paul Carr). But as Business Week revealed, the flight attendants actually work for Emirates Airline, the same benevolent sponsor of Arsenal and Real Madrid.
X. This Week's Poem To Gird Your Loins
We like to end every newsletter with a piece of poetry. This one was recommended by #GFOP @mariadanille as one that best captured the feeling of the end of the World Cup.
BY LANGSTON HUGHES
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
"Plumb Our Annals"
For GFOPs who discovered us during the World Cup, we encourage you to listen to some of our old pods. Listening to our past sub-optimal efforts may provide the etymology for "Size the Day," "Kung Fu Fighting," and "Courage." Our archive is available here.
If you prefer the Cliffs Notes version, check out "Men in Blazers Unbuttoned: Now That's What I Call Sub-Optimal" on iTunes and Amazon. It's the least objectionable of our football "analysis," Ravens and interviews from the first four years.
And all of our work from this World Cup is still available on our ESPNFC.com blog
Please forward this to your football curious friends. Let's see if we can bring them over to the dark side. The Ian Darke Side.