Currently, we at the MT are on a big NFL binge. With the post season play offs in full flow we thought we’d share with you why we love this sport. In 2014 three regular season NFL games will be coming to Wembley and after years of trying, what was little more than a cult sport in the UK is finally becoming more mainstream with more and more fans tuning in every week. While 3 games at Wembley stadium may not seem like a big deal at first glance, when put into the context of the NFL itself it really is, while there are 32 NFL teams Teams only play 16 regular season games a season, 8 home games, 8 away. These games aren’t friendlies, they matter. Each Wembley game has a designated home team, which means 3 NFL franchises have left their regular homes to seek more riches on these shores. Wembley Stadium itself is something of a draw to these teams, in terms of number of seats its 85000 capacity for NFL games is the largest in the NFL and only one stadium (The AT&T of the Dallas Cowboys) can be expanded to extra standing room to surpass this.
With 3 games a week on Sky Sports, one on Channel 4 and one on UK Eurosport, plus the Highlights programme every Saturday morning hosted by Vernon Kay, himself an avid fan and amateur player in the British Leagues, the exposure of the sport is growing and more and more fans become interested every week. The NFL’s Inside the Huddle Podcast provides great insight into the goings on around the league and helps even new fans get the what’s, why’s and most importantly who’s has topped the iTunes most popular weekly downloads since a format change a 8 weeks ago. When the NFL held a fan rally 0n London’s Regent Street over half a million people turned up to see the veteran players and events the NFL made an excellent job of organizing.
At The Man Times, we’ve been all over this for a while now, and there are 5 primary reasons for this.
Lets get one thing straight. The guys that play this game may wear quite a bit of padding, but there’s a damn good reason for this. This is not a gentleman’s sport like Rugby, this is violent. The players that play this game are not well-mannered ex-public school boys. They often grow up in deprived areas of the US and see football as a way to make it and in order to make it you have to be very, very, very good. There are in excess of 21000 college football scholarships issued by 250 Division I Colleges in the US per year. Then there are the Division II and Division III Colleges to boot. So when the NFL draft comes along every year only the top 250 get drafted and maybe another 200 get picked up by NFL teams. So Jobs in the NFL are rare, less than 1% of college players, the NFL’s feeder teams, get to play in the NFL so you have to compete, every day to make it as a top player. The guys on the opposite team work on the same principle, every day someone is out to take your job, and take food off your table. Put a bunch of highly charged, highly motivated guys on a field and give them some liberal rules for tackling and you get a lot of heavy, heavy hits.
Let’s get one thing straight, the NFL doesn’t work like the Premier League. The rules around the draft, player trades and squad management means just because you’re rubbish one year doesn’t mean you’re rubbish the following year. Look at the Kansas City Chiefs 2 wins in 2012 left them the worst team in the NFL, in 2013 thanks to a good draft, coaching and free agent signings they picked up 11 wins and made the playoffs. Conversely the Atlanta Falcons, top seeds in the NFC in 2012 with 13 wins managed just 4 wins in 2013 which left them languishing amongst the worst teams in the league.
The game itself is structured in such a way that almost every game has the potential to down to the last second to decide the outcome and every game could be a high scoring shoot out. The two-minute warning sounds when there are two minutes to go of regular times, couple that with coaches timeouts then a team behind going into the last two minutes has more than enough chance to turn the game around and sneak a win.
If you’re a Statto and you love analyzing every single aspect of a sport then the NFL is the place for you! There are enough stats in this game not just to sink a battleship, but you could take down the destroyer escorts and the refueling tanker too! Every game is dissected to the most minute detail so anyone can pick through the numbers and look into the reasons for recent successes or failures and debate exactly where it’s all gone right… Or wrong which is more likely to be the case.
From team stats to individual player stats all the way to individual stats there are enough facts and figures to argue black is white and an ordinary household ironing board is in fact a suspension bridge.
4. Fantasy Football
Fantasy football in the US is nothing like Fantasy Football in the UK. Its better. Its Head to Head all the time, the 20 million Nationwide players are divided into leagues of 10, 8 or 12 or you can divide yourselves into leagues with your mates. Once you’ve been divvied up… You draft. This is not a pick your players and chop and change them every week stuff, once you draft a player, he’s yours and nobody else can have him. You pick your squad and your friends or rivals pick theirs. This brings in the prospect of trades and changes due to injuries and by-weeks. Too many injured players you may need to drop a player to the main pool to pick up a replacement, but a healthier rival team may be able to pick you your injured star to strengthen his own squad when that player takes the field again.
There’s a wealth of stats to reward the studious player and the sport itself causes enough upsets to reward even the most raw beginner with a win. Banter awaits and there are loads of ways to take the piss out of each other. Just look at our message board!
5. ITS SURPRISINGLY SIMPLE
This may seem like a complicated game with complicated rules, and to a certain extent that true, but the object if the game is simple. You get Four goes to move the ball 10 yards without it touching the ground. If you do that, you get another 4 goes until the ball crosses a line into the End Zone. If you can’t move the ball 10 yards you thump it away and the other team get a go… Now it is more complicated than that, there are rules and all sorts to go with it but Rather handily the Refs are all wearing microphones linked to the stadium PA so they’ll tell you who who’s done what on each penalty.
There are loads of reasons to get into this sport!
Pick an NFL team and get involved! Its Easy and there’s loads of choice! Visit http://www.nfl-360.com/pick-team to help you decide.