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Balls.ie NFL Crash Course: 3 stories a new fan should be aware of going into the new season.

Balls.ie NFL Crash Course: 3 stories a new fan should be aware of going into the new season.
By PJ Browne Updated

Another new NFL season looms large and these are the stories that you should know about before it begins.

Bountygate

Earlier this year NFL commissioner Roger Goddell issued some of the most severe sanctions in the history of the NFL. It was in response to evidence that several New Orleans Saints players and staff had been operating a bounty system that rewarded players financially for illegal hits that injured players of opposing teams. Such non-contract payments are not allowed under NFL rules.

Former Saints defensive co-ordinator Greg Williams was suspended indefinitely for creating the system. Saints head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire coming season for failing to shut down the scheme down. General manager Micky Loomis was suspended for 8 games for the same offence. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt was suspended for the first 6 games of the new season.

The most severe player sanction was gived to lineback Jonathan Vilma who will be suspended for the whole season. Defensive end Will Smith was suspended for 4 games and former Saints player Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita were suspended for 8 and 3 games respectively.

The severity of these sanctions was mainly due to increased awareness of player safety in the NFL over recent years.

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Peyton Manning

Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the sport. He is a dead cert to enter the NFL Hall of Fame as soon as he becomes eligible.

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He spent his first fourteen seasons in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts but in May of last year he underwent surgery neck surgery followed by further surgery in September. These surgeries failed to alleviate neck pain that he had been experiencing in previous years. He was forced to miss the whole of last season, the first NFL games that he had missed due to injury. Without him the Colts went 2-14 (won two games, lost fourteen), the worst record in the league.

This record gave the Colts the first pick in the 2012 NFL draft (where NFL teams select the best players from college football), which would allow them to select Andrew Luck, believed to be the best quarterback prospect to enter the league since Manning himself.

Manning was released by the Colts on March 7th of this year. He spent two weeks visiting various suitors before deciding to joing the Denver Broncos. The big question now is whether or not he is the same player that he was before the surgeries, if he is, then the Broncos could be Super Bowl contenders this season.

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Young Quarterbacks

There could be as many as ten starting quarterbacks in the NFL this season who are either in their rookie year or their second year in the league. This is an abnornally high number.

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Most prominent among the rookie starters are the previously mentioned Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III or RG3 as he has become known. RG3 won the Heisman Trophy last season, given annually to the best player in college football. He takes over as starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins hoping to reinvigorate a beleagured Redskins fanbase. While Andrew Luck was the safer and more likely to succeed player, Robert Griffin is arguably the more exciting player with a higher ceiling for success. He is extremely quick running 4.4 seconds for the 40 yards and hee was also one of the top young hurdlers in the country at at both 110m and 400m.

Of the second year starters, most exciting is Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers. Last year he threw for a rookie record 4,051 yards and scored more total touchdowns than any rookie had before. Other young quarterbacks to look out for this season will be Andy Dalton of the Cincinatti Bengals, Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins, Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks and 28 yeard old rookie Brandon Weeden of the Cleveland Browns.

- Previously in the Balls.ie NFL Crash Course series...

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  • Why you should become an NFL fan.
  • The basics of the game explained.
  • The structure of the league explained.

The next installment of the Balls.ie NFL Crash Course series will let you know who to follow on Twitter.

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