For those of you not au fait with American Football, the action can be slow. Bordering on the tedious and monotonous in fact. For a long time, it was one sporting area these wheels vowed never to venture. Due to lack of understanding mostly. It just seemed like a lot of pulling and dragging, minimal use of the boot in the game at all and very little skill. Then again, back in the day, similar misgivings were held about things like darts and cricket and rugby and tennis and, yes, even racing!
Like everything, however, a little more exposure can change perspective. So, as you will have read here before, after persuasion by a certain work colleague, the decision was taken to watch the Super Bowl. Now it would be openly admitted that much of the action went over my head but some basics were picked up. Drawing mostly on some loose comparisons with rugby.
It was noted, for instance, that a touchdown yielded six points, the field goal thereafter – akin to a conversion in rugby – yielded an extra one. A field goal in general play yields three points and teams have the equivalent of four phases to move the ball at a time. Other than that, the presence of two players with Irish names – Tom Brady and Eli Manning – was as far as the knowledge went.
One of the great things about having a plethora of sports stations on the television in the office is that it offers the obvious variety. And that now includes the top American sports. Baseball remains one of the few no-go areas for this corner but once the colleges gridiron action and the main NFL action itself kicked off, more of it has been studied and to be honest yours truly has got quite into it.
The New England Patriots are the team of choice. Mostly because they have Brady but also because their game with the Colts was the best seen so far in the time following the sport. That the final score was 59-24 tells its own story. Especially when it was alluded to earlier how things can sometimes be.
Maybe the best indication that one is becoming more accustomed to a sport is when participants other than those who drew you to it in the first place become familiar and you admire them. Of course, I had the added bonus – through a friend – of having former NFL star Mark Flythe write a guest column on the Boylan Talks Sport Blog which only added to the interest but even besides that it has become very enjoyable!
Indeed, it has now become any essential part of the week’s sports viewing. The two games shown on a Sunday evening would be good enough on their own but the Thursday late night offerings have now been added to the refuges of an insomniac sports fanatic!
You’ll recall where, a few lines ago, it was remarked how slow the action can be most of the time. Typically, however – as is always the case with the curse of the commentator – one night when your columnist did actually catch a few winks a flurry of scores was missed! Thanks to modern technology, though, the action was rewound and watched again. At the end of it all, the NFL knowledge in this seat had increased considerably and another very impressive player – CJ Spiller of the Buffalo Bills – was taken note of during their 19-14 win over the Miami Dolphins.
That said, the Patriots are still the favourites here. So much so that Brady isn’t the only one of their players known! Rob Gronkowski has also registered on the radar too. In the game referred to earlier against the Colts he threw two touchdowns before sustaining an arm injury which is liable to keep him sidelined for some time. They’re still bound to be near the business end of things when it matters, mind you!
In soccer, it’s always said that Christmas and Easter are the two most crucial periods in the season. Whether the same theory could be applied to the Thanksgiving fixtures in NFL I don’t know. But what can be said is that the typical American exuberance of the coverage on November 22nd – albeit via Sky Sports – only deepened the infatuation for what was once a cause for a mixture of disinterest, curiosity and boredom.
A triple header of action on a wintry Thursday evening can never be complained about. The first of which got away to a flying start when the Detroit Lions were caught for a sack – similar to over holding the ball in GAA parlance – by Houston in the opening play in the first minute. They quickly settled, though, and went over for a touchdown before Houston levelled with one of their own early in the second quarter.
As good as the action was in that first game – not to mention the one between the Redskins and the Cowboys which followed – the highlight for this corner was unsurprisingly was the meeting of the Patriots and the New York Jets. Now, it wasn’t much of a contest, with Brady et al easing to a 49-19 win.
The fact that I actually wanted to stay awake for the entirety of the 12 hours of action might seem odd and contradictory given the headline, but for a sports addict sometimes it’s any port in a storm!