A Conversation for Talking Point: Football

American....

Post 1

Lost in Scotland

A totally different game from the European, but some of the issues can still be applied.

American football. Probably the only sport in the world that has become so inspired by the TV broadcasts of the games that if a play starts while there's a commercial break on, the play gets started over. Okay, ice hockey also waits for the broadcasts to come back from the commercial breaks before restarting after a break in play, but not to the same extent as American Football.

Players in the NFL gets multi million dollar contracts to play. Depending on how good they are. And they have to be really good to play in the Pro league. There are many of the players in the NFL that could qualify for olympic events if they wanted to, and some of them have. (Tim Dwight, Wide Reciever for the Atlanta Falcons did the 200 m dash in 20.99 seconds and the 100 m dash in 10.45)

The owners of the teams are usually multibillionaires that feel that they could do with owning a football team. We also have the owners that try to buy success (like the Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder did before the 2000 season with his "$100 million Team"). Usually, buying the best players just to show that you can buy the best players isn't enough. You also have to let them develop a unity in their playing abilities and responsibilities and not expect them to click as a unit as soon as you have them meet each other. Everyone, no matter how good they are, need a time to adjust to each other to best utilise each others abilities and playing styles.

Nevertheless, I love the game. And not just the game, but the whole experience. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to attend an NFL game, however, the second best thing (as far as I'm concerned anyways) is the NFL Europe League, where I've been to a few games and will attend more this upcoming season. The Game day starts with the Pre-game party outside the stadium that kicks off a couple of hours before the game. In the pre-game area, fans of both teams meet up and can have a drink together and wishing each other a good game. There are competitions, beer tents, performances by the cheerleaders, the team mascots and it's a fair-like atmosphere.

Somehow, I find the prospect of getting 'European Football' fans mingling before a game in the vicinity of a beer tent or a pub kind of worrying.

If anyone has seen anything in this post that they feel is incorrect, I beg forgiveness, cause I'm not good at stats and stuff. I hope, though, that I have made some little bit of sense and look forward to any replies.

Oh, and I'm not that big a fan of the football that is widespread in Europe where you actually play, using your feet.smiley - smiley


American....

Post 2

Lost in Scotland

Oh, and BTW.. NFL Europe League kicks off on Saturday (21/4) for the 2001 season.smiley - smiley Go Claymores!!!


American....

Post 3

The Nitpicker

There are many Association Football players who could probably have taken up athletics e.g. Nicholas Anelka could probably have been a VERY good 100m runner and Thierry Henry would do pretty well at 200m!
As regards European Football fans mingling before a match - sometimes it can be GREAT (the Cup Winner's Cup Final in Paris v. Zaragoza was by and large a FANTASTIC experience with memorabilia being swapped, photos taken and drinks all round) and it can be terrible! I was never so happy to be stuck on a coach for an extra 2 hours due to an accident as I was on the way to Copenhagen last summer - we had no free time in Copenhagen as a result but who would have wanted any given the horrendous events that took place! Strange how scenes like that tend to follow the supporters of the non-English team? even stranger how nothing ever seems to get done about them either?
OK I'm not a fan of the American version - there just doesn't seem to be any spontaneous play and as for having to swap your players wholesale when the other team is on the offense???


American....

Post 4

Lost in Scotland

The exchange of the entire team between the offense and defense isn't necessarily true, especially not in the smaller leagues. Take division 2 in the Uk, for instance. Often, there are players that has to play both offense and defense because there is a lack of personnel to cover both sides of the ball.

When it comes to spontaneous plays, that's part of the thrill. Think of American football like a giant chess game. The offense needs to think of a play, based on precise routes run by the recievers, blocking from the linemen, deception and accuracy of pass from the Quarterback, that can outsmart the defense, while the defense has to try to anticipate the play that will be run by the offense and then try to stop that from happening.
I agree that there is not much flow in the game itself since the ball is considered dead after it's hit the ground, but that gives everyone a chance to regroup and try again the next play.

I agree with you that for the most part, there aren't too many bad events surrounding Association Football matches, but the ones you hear about are mostly bad ones.

Well, I still like the American game better...

And we can't deny the fact that the Super Bowl is followed by over 800 million people worldwide each year, making it the biggest single sporting event in the world.


American....

Post 5

The Nitpicker

Point taken about smaller teams not having enough players to have 2 separate set of players.

I think it is the fact that so many people draw a parallel with chess that puts me off even more - sorry but I am not into chess at all!

I also prefer the participants to be thinking for themselves with the goalkeeper the only player who can really practise for most of the situations he encounters - the rest of them have to use their fantastic technical skills and make it up as they go along (with the obvious exception of set pieces and corners). I like it because (as I have quoted elsewhere on this area)in the words of Johan Cruyff 'Football is a game you play with your brain' (not someone else's brain doing the thinking for you)!

Well, I still like the European (and African and South American and Central American) game better .....


American....

Post 6

The Nitpicker

Sorry - small extra point - I don't often see anything to laugh at in American Football apart from the whole overblown spectacle of it all whereas in the European version ... smiley - laugh a minute! I have seen some truly hilarious things!

Last Saturday I watched in horror as two of 'my' teams players set a record that I do not think will be beaten in a very long time (in England anyway)! Despite my horror, I just HAD to laugh when our two Brasilian's scored the first and second goals of the match - FOR THE OTHER SIDE!!! We went on to lose 0-3 which was not really the result we wanted but it was not a total b****r due to the sense of unreality. The opposition fans (all the way from Middlesbrough to London and hoping for a draw) were just totally ecstatic and who can blame them - the first time they had won at Highbury since, WAIT FOR IT, 1936! I suppose it was a case of 'had to either laugh or cry' and laughing was the best option but it WAS really funny the way it happened ROFL (well not actually OF obviously but .....)


American....

Post 7

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

There is actually more thinking involved in an American football game than in any other sport. The teams line up at the start of the play with a pre-scripted play in mind, but as Steinbeck said, "The best laid plans of mice and men are oft to go awry."

The quarterback names the scripted play, and lines his team up on the ball. He surveys the defensive alignment and their behaviors... are they looking for a pass, or are they stacking up against the run? Are the linebackers going to blitz, or are they faking it? Do I have a favorable one-on-one matchup somewhere on the field?

If he thinks the conditions favor his play, he snaps the ball, otherwise, he checks off to one of several "audibles" that were settled on before the start of the game.

Once the play begins, everyone attempts to execute their pre-scripted assignments. But if the defense has fooled them, or if someone blows their assignment, then everyone has to adjust. A lineman blows his black, so the running back has to try to pick up the rusher. The quarterback has to scramble, and now the timings are thrown off with the receiving routes. They now have to come back to the quarterback and make themselves available to him. The quarterback now has the following options, depending on his situation:
- run the ball himself
- find an open receiver
- throw the ball away
- tuck the ball and take a sack


American....

Post 8

Lost in Scotland

Couldn't have said it better myself, Sellers...


American....

Post 9

Lost in Scotland

And Sellers, what's happened to the old Am Football thread we used to have back in the days before the merger???
The one entitled Supre Bowl melee, or something similar to that.


American....

Post 10

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Well, it's the offseason. I've been talking hockey to people. Football is heating up again, though... the draft is next week, I believe. Then comes the preseason, at which point I'll make my increasingly unreliable championship prediction. smiley - winkeye


American....

Post 11

Lost in Scotland

Pre-season is already over for the NFLE league.smiley - smiley Kick off on Saturday. Will you be able to catch any of the games on TV from the Europe League this season?
If the weather had been beneficial, I would have played my first Fully kitted American Football game this past Sunday. Unfortunately, the venue we were going to play got flooded, so we couldn't play. Game's been postponed. But I'm getting closer to my first game...smiley - smiley Really nifty.


American....

Post 12

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

A football game called for bad weather? I played in a downpour more than once, and when I played flag football in Indiana, the field was always frozen. So were our fingers. And the ball, come to think of it. Add in the crosswinds, and you had an interesting passing game.

Some of the games will be broadcast here in the US, so I'm sure I'll catch some of them. I don't know who to root for, though. I'm part German, so the Rhein Fire wouldn't be a bad pick. When it was still the World League, I cheered for the New York/New Jersey Knights, but now there's no US teams.

Ahh, what the heck... Go Claymores! smiley - winkeye


American....

Post 13

Lost in Scotland

I know that it sounds strange that the game was called off because of bad weather. But it wasn't the weather on the day that was the problem. The pitch was flooded and submerged under water, and the prospect of playing the water polo variant of American Football didn't appeal to any of the players. smiley - smiley

I think that one of the problems with the games being shown in the US is that they're played at times which intercedes with other stuff, like breakfast, or a sleep-in after last night's party.

Did you follow the inaugural season of the XFL, BTW? I went to their home page sporadically to check how they were doing (mostly to check up on former Claymore head coach Jim Criner's new team, the Las Vegas Outlaws) and it seems as if there was a lot of complaints from within that organisation about the media not giving them any coverage besides the televised games. Any comments on that?


American....

Post 14

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

The media gave the league TONS of hype at the beginning. The first week of play generated twice the ratings that were promised.

After that, the league tailed off quickly. Their games set a new record for the lowest rated shows ever to air in prime time. People tuned in to see what the hype was all about, but then they quickly stopped watching.

Why? The game wasn't any more exciting than the NFL. The players were no-names. The skill level wasn't there. Microphones were pushed into the faces of players who were out of breath, not that they had anything to say worth hearing... after all, these are football players, and not the brightest kids on the sandlot. And the announcing was just annoying... it was all hype, and it seemed like they only had a passing grasp of the game. Hell, I get annoyed at some of the commentators for the NFL, and these are guys with impressive resumes involving Super Bowls played or coached in. But these guys tried to make spectacles out of perfectly ordinary plays... it made you wonder if you were watching the same game.

Now Vince McMahon needs a scapegoat... after all, he's the genius who made wrestling a national pasttime, so he's got to have a good product, right? The rumor is that they've changed their approach a bit, but I think they've already alienated most of their audience. My coworkers and I were discussing sports, and one mentioned the XFL playoffs, jokingly. "Is that still going on?" was the general response.

Of course, they're playing against a sports-glutted backdrop... Stanley Cup Finals have started, the NBA playoffs are about to begin, baseball has started, and the NFL draft is right around the corner. People have enough sports on their plate at this time of year.


American....

Post 15

Lost in Scotland

Something that really surprised me (I guess it shouldn't since we're talking about a Vince McMahon company) was that when I watched a movie clip of a 93-yard fumble recovery returned for a TD. All of a sudden, when I see the player running down the field is a camera man running beside him with a steady-cam. "Okay, so what's so strange about that, they've got steady-cams in the NFL as well", you might say. The strange part of this was that the guy with the steady cam was running ON the field, IN-FIELD from the player returning the ball. And this guy with the steady-cam almost kept up with the guy running with the ball. Really weird.

I think the basic idea of every player playing in the same position getting the same pay is a good idea, though. And then the players get a bonus for each game won, and if they do some good plays in a game.
But as you said, there was a lot of names I recognised from the NFL Europe League playing in XFL after they couldn't get on an NFL roster during the NFL season. Seems more of a "dumping ground" than the NFL Europe League. Not that I'm saying that NFLE is a dumping ground.smiley - smiley More of a development league for players to get game experience.smiley - smiley

I watched last year's Super Bowl (Rams-Titans) on tape the other day, and that year, Kevin Greene was a game analyst for Sky Sports. He was doing alright. OKay, he's a linbacker, so he was looking at the defense more than offense, but he did very well, I thought. The game commentators for Sky Sports was Nick Halling (only Brit to call a game for Fox TV in the US) and Brian Baldinger (at least I think it was him). Two really good commentators, covering a really great game.

This year for the Europe League, they're going to bring over Celebrity commentators for each game. They're starting with Troy Acheman (yes I know he doesn't spell it that way) and will have a couple of different current or former NFL players doing the play-calling from the booth.


American....

Post 16

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

The steady-cam on the field was another gimmic, supposed to bring you the viewer to the game. It's another one that hasn't quite worked out the way they wanted it to.

Just because they're a celebrity, doesn't mean they'll do a good job of commentating. Some of the ones who have regularly called NFL games that *really* annoy me:

Boomer Esiason: Quarterback for the Bengals in two Super Bowls. He did Monday Night Football for a season or two, and sounded like an idiot.

Dan Dierdorf: Another MNF flop. He was a defensive power at linebacker for many years before miscalling games on tv for many more years. I often wonder if he's watching the same game I am.

John Madden: Former head coach who took the Raiders to two Super Bowl championships. He's gone senile now. All he can do anymore is suck up to the teams who *used* to be successful (Dallas and San Fran mostly, but he'll ride Green Bay now and again) and get sidetracked by trivia. I swear, if I hear about the "confluence" at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh one more time...

I've seen Kevin Greene on various tv appearances, and I would be surprised if he isn't good at the job. He's certainly a natural at running his mouth... smiley - winkeye


American....

Post 17

Lost in Scotland

Kevin Green was, as I said, really good at the commentating. Pity that he wasn't doing the play-by-play calling in the booth, though.

I have to say that so far, I've thought that the commentators for the games I've seen has been pretty good. There's been a few flops during last season's MNF play calling, but all in all, it's not been too bad.

Current time 08:30am Friday April 2oth. 30 hours 30 minutes until kick-off..smiley - smiley Not that I'm counting.smiley - smiley


American....

Post 18

Lost in Scotland

First week of NFL Europe action has now been concluded. Game recap of the Scottish Claymores vs. Frankfurt Galaxy game on my user page...smiley - smiley


Key: Complain about this post