By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With week fourteen of the American NFL (National Football League) finished, there are just three more weeks of regular season before the final three weeks of playoffs, leading up to the Superbowl on February 2nd. Watching the NFL in Rio is a shifting landscape, but there continues to be some great spots to get together with other fans and cheer on one’s team.
A long-running staple for watching the NFL in Rio is Shenanigan’s Irish Pub & Sports Bar in Ipanema. The bar was opened over ten years ago by a group of American expatriates, but last year was sold to Brazilian owners who fortunately continue to make showing the NFL games a priority.
Opening on Sundays in time for the early games (which start at 4PM in Rio due to daylight savings time) with a large projector screen keeps Shenanigan’s the first option for many. To further tempt fans on game day, their menu offers American style nachos guaranteed to leave no one hungry, as well as chicken wings with enough heat to raise eyebrows (R$27 for ten).
New to the list of options this year is the Clover Irish Pub located along Copacabana Beach. The bar was opened in October 2012 and then purchased earlier this year by a pair of Americans from Detroit who brought a new focus on showing sports, especially the NFL.
Currently they can show more simultaneous games than anywhere else in Rio, and also just launched a midnight happy hour special, 2-for-1 Budweiser bottles (midnight until closing, Sunday through Thursday), to help keep those late Sunday and Monday night games lively.
Owner Ian Knight told The Rio Times, “Technically we could play three different games simultaneously, but generally we go with two due to bandwidth constraints. As far as I can tell we are the only bar to offer a choice of NFL games other than the local choice on Sky or NET.”
The Clover Irish Pub is planning to throw a Superbowl party, and Knight adds that a big draw will be showing the commercials. “Showing the U.S. version of the game with American commercials isn’t a problem. We use a Slingbox and hope for the best on the internet connection here in Brazil.”
For those looking for different vibe than an Irish pub to watch America’s Game, check out the Blue Agave, both at the original location in Ipanema and the more recent one in Copacabana. Both restaurants are owned by American expatriates, business partners Rich Nelson and Jason Galeria, who have made sure that the Mexican menu is on point with fresh salsa, California-style burritos and of course, lots of tequila to choose from.
The Copacabana location has more seating and the ability to show different programming on their two separate screens, which is a life-saver during the seemingly endless Brazilian football (soccer) season. The Ipanema location is just off of the famous Posto 9 and makes for a great after-beach destination. Both locations are likely to stay open late for the night games.
Co-owner Richard Nelson tells The Rio Times, “We would recommend arriving a few minutes before Kick-off to get a good table in front of the the specific game you want to see. Also, we will show the late Sunday and Monday night games until the end as long as there are more clients than staff there to watch.”
There are a few other locations that will show NFL games on occasion, such as Lord Jim’s Pub, Banana Jack’s and the Mud Bug. It is best to call ahead to make sure there are no conflicts with other sports programming, and plan to arrive early to lobby for the desired game.