Thursday, February 4, 2010

NFL's popularity in Mexico continues to grow

A week from Sunday, Carlos Meza will join nearly two dozen friends and family members in front of the TV in his stepfather's tiny second-floor apartment. They'll gather behind tables filled with takeout pizza, tacos and sushi, and coolers filled with beer and soda, to watch the Indianapolis Colts battle the New Orleans Saints for the NFL title.

"This year is going to be my 20th Super Bowl in a row," Meza, 28, said proudly.

Nothing unusual about that. Last year's Super Bowl telecast drew a record 98.7 million viewers in the United States. But Meza won't be watching in the U.S. His stepfather's apartment is in a middle-class neighborhood in downtown Mexico City, where futbol is more commonly played with a round ball.

In recent years, however, the city has also become home to a loyal, passionate -- and rapidly growing -- NFL fan base. T-shirts, sweaters and replica jerseys bearing the emblems of the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins -- the country's most popular teams -- have become commonplace all over Mexico, where the NFL Network is now available on basic cable and 40 movie theaters in 10 cities show Monday night games live on the big screen.

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