The two greatest things derived from reading Con Houlihan’s mesmeric meanderings were a vastly increased vocabulary and an ability to scribe on a much broader range of subject matter. Or, to be more accurate, having the confidence to do so. Now read on…
Baseball and ice hockey remain as the two bridges that have never and probably will never be crossed. Though similar status did once apply to rugby and cricket and – most pointedly in this case – American Football. Somebody asked me the other day would I be watching the NFL play-offs later that evening. The play-offs are the gridiron version of the All Ireland semi finals in GAA. With the winners of the Northern Football Conference (NFC) taking on whoever emerges from the American Football Conference (AFC)
Sunday’s inquiry was met with the honest answer that it was unlikely because once the start of a competition is missed in one of the American sports it can be impossible to catch up to speed. Unlikely as I’m sure it seems, none of the rescheduled NBA was taken in last year as, once the tip-off was missed, interest therein more or less waned. Never fear, series link was hit on the Sky box before the December 22nd tip off and has been fairly well stocked since.
However, as Covid-19 has readily proved, things can change quickly and drastically. In this instance there was nothing drastic afoot but a revelation about one of the teams sent me scurrying for YouTube yesterday like my labrador Buddy after a slice of ham. Tom Brady to American Football what Lionel Messi is to soccer or Willie Mullins is to horse racing – people that know nothing of their area of expertise are aware of those particular individuals.
I honestly thought the quarter back had retired as mention of him hasn’t been heard in a long . Leading to one of those rare situations where one was delighted to be wrong when it emerged that the great No. 12 was not only still playing at the highest level aged 43 but also still working his magic. Guiding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers past the Green Bay Packers and into their first Super Bowl appearance since their victorious run of 2002, where they will encounter the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs.
At this point it will be openly admitted that yours truly is no expert in this particular discipline. In fact, it was a case of devising a methodology by which it could be made more understandable. Which basically involved using comparisons with other sporting codes as a means of working one’s way through the slow-paced, stop-start action.
For example, a team has five phases in which to work the ball up the field – in movements that resemble scrums in rugby. By which time they either have to have scored via a touchdown or field goal or conceded to the opposition. The quarter back is the alpha male of the whole show. Quite literally being master of all they survey. The NFL equivalent of a fly half or centre back in GAA terms. Almost every facet of the game goes through them.
You can only imagine the boost it must have been for a team like Tampa Bay to acquire the services of somebody like Brady. Even at this advanced stage of his career. Something borne out by the fact that he threw three touchdown passes in the 31-26 victory over Aaron Rogers and the Packers.
Meaning that the former New England Patriots star will go for an amazing seventh Super Bowl ring when and his colleagues face off against Patrick Mahomes and the defending champion Chiefs. The Sky box is on high alert already!