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Bengals, fans eager for first international game in London Sunday

Some making first trip overseas
Posted at 5:12 PM, Oct 24, 2016

CINCINNATI - Phil Amrein says he and his wife have been going to Bengals' road games for 15 years, but he calls this "a road game extreme."

It certainly won't be a typical trip for the team or the 3,000 season-ticket holders who bought tickets for Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins at London's Wembley Stadium.  It's the first time the Bengals will play in Europe in the NFL's "International Series."

"We can't wait to go," Amrein, a 21-year season-ticket holder, said Monday. "We're going to sight-see. We're going to see Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square. We're going to take in a play, let the ladies do a little shopping at Harrods.

"It's just going to be a total nice trip."

The wife of Bengals punter Kevin Huber is already in Europe waiting for the team to arrive Thursday. She posted this photo of herself in Paris wearing her husband's jersey.

Bengals players are eager, too.

"This game is taking us places we'd never thought we'd be," said cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. "It's an honor to go over there and represent the United States."

Kicker Mike Nugent expects to catch up with some old friends.

"I've had a few texts from friends, people I haven't talked to in a while, saying hopefully they can meet after the game," Nugent said.

"It's definitely a good opportunity for us to go over there and play against a tough team," said running back Jeremy Hill.

Amrein's buddy, Jerry Rice, and Rice's wife are going with them. Rice is another Bengals fan who follows the team on the road. He and his wife are making their first trip to London.

"When the schedule came out, we jumped on it, so this is a time to go up and do a lot of the touristy things as well as enjoy the football game," said Rice, who's had  season tickets for 24 years.

"We've gone all over the country going to road games and we've had a fantastic time and this adds another element a little bit further away.

"Who dey Bengals. I think we will bring a winner back."

Joel Pieper of Provident Travel is taking 100 fans on a six-day trip starting Wednesday. Besides the game and sightseeing, they're even taking a side trip to Paris.

"A lot of our travelers have never been to London, so going to London is a bonus in itself, let alone seeing the Bengals play at Wembley Stadium with 80,000 other fans," Pieper said.

"It's one of those once in a lifetime experiences where they're excited to see the Bengals and they're excited to go to another country."

Pieper said his group paid $2,000 each plus the cost of the game tickets ($60 to $130).

Both teams and their fans will be in for a different kind of atmosphere in Wembley Stadium. Most of the crowd won't have an allegiance to the Bengals or Redskins, and English fans are known to break into soccer songs and chants in the modern home of the England national soccer team.

"The NFL has embraced Europe and you'll see all the fans from every team over there," Amrien said. "They are really crazy about it and we'd like to enjoy that experience it as well."

The Bengals sent some of their gear to London in August, according to business manager Bill Connelly. The shipment included video and trainers equipment, Gatorade, water and other supplies.

 "We're going play the game, win the game. It's a business trip," Connelly said. "We will have a little sightseeing adventure."

With the time difference, fans staying home in Cincinnati will have to be up at 9:30 a.m. to catch the 1:30 p.m. kickoff in London.