The NFL is already back and this year looks set to be yet another unpredictable season of drama, excitement and spectacular showmanship. With the opening weekend drawing to a close tonight, some people out out there may not have gotten NFL fever yet but here are eleven reasons why you should tune in this season.
1. Every Game Matters
The National Football League has the shortest season in professional sport, and therefore every game counts. Teams with ambitions of reaching the playoffs need to get off to a positive start, while those who soon realise their season is doomed need to up their game in order to be keep their jobs. Alternatively a 7-9 season might even get you in the playoffs anyway, so you never know.
2. Any Team Can Win
Speaking of which, a team that stumble into the playoffs have as much a chance of winning a championship as a team that go into the postseason with an almost flawless record. That's, in fact, exactly what happened two years ago when the New York Giants (9-7) defeated (New England 13-3) in the 2012 Super Bowl, even though their season seemed over only weeks previously.
Since the turn of the millennium eight different teams have collected the Vince Lombardi trophy, showing evidence of the equilibrium that goes through the league. Take that Premier League!
3. Players Have Personality
Continuing the Premier League theme, player in the NFL are not afraid to speak openly, critically and emotionally. Last season Tyrell Suggs spoke candidly of his disdain for the Patriots after winning the AFC Championship game in Foxborough. The man himself, according to the above video is an allum of Balls So Hard University, no less.
In years past the likes of Tyrell Owens and Chad 'Ochocinco' Johnson have caused a stir with their off the field antics and in-game tweets from the sidelines. The boys even got their own tv show briefly. In general however, the media have much greater access to players in the NFL then we are used to in Europe, and a lot more entertaining sound bites emerge as a result, and the players are often outspoken on issues from gay rights to US foreign policy.
Even the stars of the league are able to poke a bit of fun at themselves too, including Eli Manning, below, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning
4. The Fans Add To The Occasion
Sure they may not sing or create sustained raucous noise but they add a kaleidoscope of colour, a sense of humour and fun to the occasion, and who doesn't love watching Americans high-fiving with one hand while holding a beer with the other.
5. Fantasy Football Is Better Than Fantasy Premier League
Fantasy American Football allows you to sit back and enjoy the weekend in a way that Fantasy Premier League doesn't. First of all, your competitors don't have the same players as you have, and you spend a lot less time hoping certain players score while others keep clean sheets.
The concept has even inspired a TV show, which in turn brought us this song...
6. Every Play Counts
The game may last three hours, but every second of action is crucial to the outcome of the game. Every yard counts, so everyone one yard run is just as important to the drive as a 20 yard pass.
No catch...no Super Bowl for the Giants.
7. Incredible Feats of Athletcism
What the league has in abundance is action, athleticism, pace and spectacular moments. That is what makes it such theatre, because the players perform things on the field in such confined spaces, with such such little room for maneouver, and on such a regular basis, that it is impossible not to get sucked in.
8. Nothing Else To Do On A Sunday Night in Winter
Another reason to get sucked into NFL, is that there is nothing else to watch. What else would you be doing late night on a Thursday, Sunday or Monday, especially on a dreary winter's night in Ireland. Football provides hours of endless entertainment when there is nothing better to do.
9. The Commentators
Everyone knows that American announcers are ludicrous, particularly when it comes to soccer, but there is no doubting the commitment and knowledge of commentators in the US. They speak openly of their sport and critique accordingly.
10. Get it while it's Hot
We should enjoy it while we can because with the increasing number of serious injuries, concussions and resulting rule changes, we're not going to have the same game in a few years time. NFL chief Roger Goodell seems hell-bent on making the game a non-contact sport, which may lead to more spectacular passes but takes away from the physicality, which is just as important.