Since first developing an interest in the NFL, it has evolved into an incredibly strong passion and love for American Football. It didn’t really take long to become hooked, either, and I doubt I’ll ever look back.
Strangely enough, I was introduced to the game by playing EA Sports’ Madden on my PlayStation 4. Obviously, I had already experienced the Super Bowl and clips of ‘Hardest Tackles in the NFL’ on the internet, but Madden was where I really got into it.
Madden seems to be a game that is often slated online by other Football fans, for various reasons; inaccurate player stats, gameplay and so on.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the other football too – soccer – and am a seasoned FIFA player, so I fully appreciate the issues people can have with EA games. However, I genuinely believe that I picked up the rules, tactics and player positions far quicker by ‘playing’ than I would have by watching. It’s just how I learn best, being pretty ‘kinaesthetic’.
Getting into American Football also allowed me to re-kindle my affiliation with Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whom I adopted as ‘my team’ on the back of a family holiday to Florida, many years ago. I remember, at the age of nine, coming home to the U.K. with a Bucs baseball cap and Mike Alstott jersey.
Of course, being a typical British sports fan, I am extremely passionate about my Buccaneers now. Also, being a typical Liverpool Football Club supporter, I’m extremely positive about our chances this coming season; a new coach, a talented quarterback going into his second season, and a much strengthened defense – what’s not to be excited about?
The Pre-Season starts tomorrow night, with Tampa Bay kicking off at midnight on Friday, and my NFL Game Pass subscription has been renewed, ready for the long awaited return of this beautiful sport. I really cannot wait; it’s just like being a kid on Christmas Eve.
The problem is, I don’t know many people who share my excitement. Most are looking forward to the Premier League starting, which I am too, but it’s not the same. American Football is growing over here though. We have amateur leagues, and I even have a ‘local team’ – Chester Romans – who play in the British American Football League’s NFC 2 West division.
On the occasions I’ve watched Chester, it has made me wish I had discovered my enthusiasm for it all far earlier, as I would love to have enjoyed being involved with Football out on the field, rather than being just a fan of the game. Sadly, I fear the age of twenty-six is a little late in the day to be starting out as a ‘rookie’.
On a slightly more ‘prolific’ scale, the NFL hosts the International Series, in which a handful of NFL fixtures take place on British soil. I imagine many American fans of the teams who lose a ‘home’ fixture to the UK get a bit hacked off, however looking at the bigger picture, it is a fantastic way to grow awareness of the sport they love on a global scale (and make the NFL a load of money in the process).
With all of this happening on my doorstep, it’s evident that I’m not such a rare breed after all, which is a pretty good feeling.
If you haven’t given American Football a second thought, have the common misconception that it’s ‘just Rugby with helmets’, or even just don’t think you’ll understand what’s going on, I implore you to give it a try. You won’t regret it.