Matt Cleary was the real MVP of Monday Night Football, even though it was Tuesday afternoon where he was.
The San Francisco 49ers' 20-3 win over the Minnesota Vikings saw the debut of the 49ers' Jarryd Hayne, the first National Rugby League player to make it in the NFL.
Not surprisingly, Hayne's debut was a major story in Australia, so The Guardian got Sydney-based freelancer Matt Cleary to live blog the game, which began around 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sydney time. For many reading along, the blog was more entertaining than the game, especially for those on the East Coast who stayed up past midnight to watch the final game of Week 1.
— Matt Ufford (@mattufford) September 15, 2015
— AP NFL (@AP_NFL) September 15, 2015
The best part about the live blog was Cleary's rudimentary understanding of Amerian football and his attempts to make sense of what was going on (much to our enjoyment). A sampling:
"[Vikings's QB Teddy] Bridgewater starting to throw the hamburger, now. He gains several yards for his squadron with a pass to No44, Asiata. Then he's sacked. And now it's second and 16. Darryl Patterson takes a catch and is jumped upon by a huge man. There are flags. It's an illegal substitution. There will be no illegal substituting in this referee's National Football League, no sirree Bob Hoskins."
Cleary, on 49ers running back Carlos Hyde's second touchdown of the game, which all but sealed the win for the 49ers:
"Who else but King Carlos Hyde he takes a short ball from his quarterback Kaepernick and the seas of Babylon opened up because all the blocking men did their job and a top runner like Carlos was always going to run through that sort of hole. Touchdown, 49ers. Fabulous Phil Dawson knocks over the extra digit and it's Niners 17 leading Vikings 3."
Americans, including some prominent TV personalities, quickly noticed the Aussie's efforts:
Please enjoy the Aussie blog of the debut of Jarryd Hayne's NFL debut. Settle in and prepare to laugh http://t.co/kq0QcJrBaC
— trey wingo (@wingoz) September 15, 2015
If you didn't stay up for Vikes-49ers, relive it through the amazing live blog of an Australian writer new to the NFL http://t.co/Jpe78bXWjA
— SI NFL (@si_nfl) September 15, 2015
Matt Cleary should be on the Hall of Fame committee: http://t.co/KBpVn0aA9t
— Ray Ratto (@RattoCSN) September 15, 2015
Even ESPN, which aired the game, noticed:
— ESPN Monday Night (@ESPNMondayNight) September 15, 2015
On ESPN, the game earned a 9.5 overnight household rating, up 22 percent from last year's late game and the highest rating yet for the second game of ESPN's annual Monday Night Football doubleheader.
No word on whether Cleary will live blog next Sunday's 49ers-Steelers game, which would be around 5 a.m. Monday his time. But The Guardian is already looking ahead to the fall classic, telling Adweek they may ask Cleary to live blog a World Series game.
Hopefully, he won't confuse it with cricket.