By Chris Vettraino

The revolution is coming. American Football is gradually infiltrating the UK and increasing its fanbase, and I, as an enthusiast, am very happy with this development. There is only so much Twitter complaining that angry nationalist rugby fans can do; they’ll go to their graves trying to convince you that helmets and shoulder pads are for kids (their words, not mine!) but before you know it there’ll only be one game called football in town, and you’ll have a great time watching it after the soccer is over. With this in mind, here are just a few reasons why the NFL is a league worth following.

Game Flow

The most common complaint British sport fans levy against the NFL and American football is that the game is ‘too long’ or ‘too stop/start’. I’m sure I need not remind you that three of the most popular sports in the UK include cricket, golf, and tennis – three of the most stop/start sports around!  In fact, many of the people who have moaned to me about the ‘stop/start’ nature of the NFL are, themselves, great fans of at least one of these three sports (although in fairness, golf can’t really be classed as stop/start because it never actually starts in the first place…). 

The NFL is a league so crammed with gameplanning and stats that it is one of the most sociable sports to watch, with the breaks providing a great opportunity to chat to your friends and family about what might happen next. Additionally, the standard of commentary in the NFL is second to none, with the play-by-play commentator describing the action whilst the colour commentator adds analytical insight that both newcomers and seasoned fans can appreciate. 

Can’t-miss plays

In soccer, (yes I’m calling it soccer, get over it), you have goals, red cards, and penalties that can change a game but these are interspersed amongst long periods of very little action. In the NFL, a game can turn on its head on literally any play of the game. The offense could score a touchdown, they could lose possession after a fumble or an interception, or the momentum of the entire game could completely flip on something as seemingly standard as a long pass down the field. 

Parity 

As any Premier League fan will know, this season is going down as one of the greatest of all time. Despite the apparent lack of a title race that we are currently seeing, there is a tremendous feel of anticipation from week to week because it seems as though any team can beat any team. Sadly this season is an outlier. Year after year, however, the NFL boasts upsets galore, with bad teams shocking title contenders every week.

At the end of every NFL season, the top 12 teams play in a knockout tournament to try and make it to the Super Bowl, the Grand Final, which is watched by more than 150 million people worldwide. 31 out of 32 teams have been to the playoffs in the last six years, and only the New York Jets have been absent since 2010. 

The most direct comparison available is to look at the teams who finish in the top seven of the Premier League, (the teams who qualify for European competition the following year). Since 2010, 35 teams have completed a Premier League season, and only 13 different sides have finished in the top seven. American Football dwarfs English Football when it comes to parity, but how do they achieve this?

The Draft, Trading, and the Salary Cap

One of the things that is most frustrating about soccer is the ability for teams to buy their way to the top. Transfer fees and salaries have skyrocketed, and it’s almost impossible for the smaller teams to keep up. 

Say hello to a system that provides a level playing field. Every year, the NFL Draft allows teams to select new players from the university and college ranks and make them pros. The teams pick worst to first based off of the previous season’s final standings. This means last year’s bottom feeders get first pick of the best talent, as opposed to being relegated down a tier, creating a platform for them to build their squad and become one of the better teams in the league.

If a team wants to acquire a player on another team, they can’t just buy them. The team must give up one or more of their own players or some of their future picks in the draft, which means club owners and General Managers need to play a careful balancing game between getting young talent from the draft or trading for experienced players who are proven stars. Often, the most experienced players will set you back many valuable picks.

As of November 2020, Manchester United’s payroll is more than the seven smallest payrolls combined. This huge discrepancy prevents world-class players from going to smaller clubs, because the rich clubs can offer so much more. 

The NFL’s salary cap takes away any chance of this. The league sets a limit of how much money a team can pay its players from year to year, and the NFL sets this limit within the revenue that each team gets from the league, to make sure all teams can afford to use the most of it. This eliminates any and all opportunity for teams to have a financial advantage. 

And finally,

Fan Bases and Stadiums 

The NFL boasts some of the biggest sports arenas in the entire world, and each week they are absolutely packed with tens of thousands of loyal fans who cheer so loudly that sometimes the visiting team can’t even communicate with each other on the field. The atmosphere is electric. 

Not sold yet? The Jacksonville Jaguars in Florida have outdoor swimming pools in the stands from which fans can watch the game. If that ain’t awesome, I don’t know what is.

Posted by:RAMpage Website

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