Call it bandwagon hopping, a guilty plea will readily be entered. As regular readers will know, until a while ago, the extent of American Football knowledge in this seat would’ve been that there was a guy called Tom Brady with one of the teams. Even at that, not a clue was had as to which team that was.
Experience brings insight, however. Plenty of Brady’s team mates are known now too. A few players from other teams too, but the New England Patriots are the favourites. One can’t help wondering, though, was it another case misguided Patriotism. For, after engaging in a fairly competent NFL conversation with a much more learned mate of mine, a work colleague of his interjected with “Another Patriots fan, just what the world needs”! The sarcasm of the statement could be detected, even over the web.
Thanksgiving seems to be a bigger deal in America than Christmas. Thus, with typical flamboyant exuberance, a feast of football was put on for the big day. Not to mention the actual feast which the likes of analysts Cecil Martin and Neil Reynolds gorged upon all day.
While the Patriots game – which will be returned to later – was actually the highlight for this corner, it was actually the first appetiser between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Texans that brought about this column. Dodgy refereeing decisions have decided many a sporting outcome in the past and probably always will. In some cases though, you just don’t expect to see it.
Many sports have evolved with technology. Among the most significant advances has been the inclusion of Television Match Official. American Football has such a facility and yet – in the above game – the Texans ended up winning thanks to a touchdown that obviously never should have counted.
Time to paint a picture for those not too familiar with the sport. Every time a player is tackled he’s ‘Down’ to use NFL parlance. Once a player is down, play is restarted by something similar to a scrum in rugby. On this occasion, the Texans player wasn’t called ‘Down’ and ended up going 80 yards for a touchdown.
Now here’s where it gets bizarre. There are several officials or duty during a game – more than in GAA, soccer or rugby – yet none of them managed to notice that both the knees and elbows of the attacking player were grounded during the play. Time for the video ref you’d think – if only! Owing to the fact that the umpires didn’t take any action, the play couldn’t be challenged. Can nobody see the contradiction there?
Anyway, despite having earlier bemoaned my tendency to suffer from insomnia, sleep was willingly gone without to see the Patriots take on the New York Jets. Indeed, once that was over Racing UK was flicked on to take the previous day’s action at Market Rasen which meant it was nearly daybreak when a few winks were caught. But that’s another story!
It was kind of assumed that the barracking of my choice of favourite team was down to jealousy. An ‘Everybody likes them because they’re winning’ mantra. Let it be said – not a thing is known about their history. Nor are the different Conferences and the permutations thereof understood. It might have started as purely a Brady thing, but it can honestly be said that the Pats are the favourites here because they are the most enjoyable to watch.
Being awake late on this occasion was worth it though. After a scoreless opening quarter – not uncommon in NFL – the Patriots burst into action to steamroll to a 35-0 lead courtesy of touchdowns in the space of six minutes. But, surprise, surprise, the best reason for staying awake was seeing Brady go over for a score near the end.
Seeing them cough up 19 points near the end was less pleasing but such was the entertainment value, the only regret is that the Patriots don’t be on television every week. It’s quite comfortable on this bandwagon!