The NFL continues to export American football to the United Kingdom and is sending a rather famous ambassador to help it catch on.
Joe Montana will hold a Quarterbacking 101 seminar in London Thursday for aspiring young passers. And there are more candidates than you might think. American football became an officially recognized sport last year by the British University College and Sport, the governing body for university athletics in the UK.
Nearly 75 colleges and universities have an American-style football team and they play a tournament each year. This year's national champion was the Birmingham Lions, who defeated the Hertfordshire Hurricanes 17-13. (The 49ers are spending the week in Hertfordshire).
Montana will hold a one-hour coaching session for approximately 15 quarterbacks who play for various teams at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. The former 49ers great also will be part of the NFL's fan rally at Trafalgar Square on Saturday.
According to the NFL, UK participation in amateur football has risen since the league started having annual games at Wembley Stadium, growing by approximately 15 percent per year since 2007. The league says the 49ers are the third-most popular team in the United Kingdom after the Patriots and the Dolphins.
Of course, none of the young quarterbacks on hand Thursday were alive to see Montana's most famous throw in 1982. But the NFL started to take root here in the 1980s when the top game of the week was broadcast on Sunday evenings. Which means that Montana's pupils may not fully grasp the significance of being taught by No. 16, but their dads might.
- Matt Barrows