THOUSANDS of American Football fans dotted around the county will stay up late this Sunday night and into the early hours of Monday morning to witness ‘the greatest show on earth’, Super Bowl XLIX.
The popularity of America’s National Football League (NFL) has never been greater with the entire USA grinding to a halt to watch the biggest game of the year, over-indulge in beer and snack foods whilst rooting for one of the two teams competing for America’s most-coveted sporting trophy.
After Thanksgiving, more food is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year in the United States.
University of Phoenix’s Stadium in Arizona will play host to this year’s five-hour spectacular (Arizona’s third time hosting the Super Bowl), an event that attracted over 110 million television viewers and generated over 23 million tweets on social media last year.
Like my fellow-NFL fans around Europe, I will be drinking pots of coffee and consuming as many energy bars as possible to stay awake until the bitter end of what has the potential to be one of the closest Super Bowls for years.
However, what about the casual American Football fan or the complete novice who has never experienced the razzmatazz and pageantry of America’s favourite game?
Here are some quick questions and answers to entice you or your friends to watch ‘the greatest show on earth’ this coming weekend.
Why should I bother watching it especially if I am not an NFL fan?
Quick answer is that you do not have to be a fan of the sport to enjoy the SuperBowl. The crazy build-up, pre-match singing of the national anthem, fire-works, raucous atmosphere and the halft-ime musical spectacular (Katy Perry performs this year’s set) are reasons enough to watch without ever worrying about the actual game itself.
Who is taking part in this year’s Super Bowl?
Defending champions the Seattle Seahawks are going up against one of the NFL’s most successful ever franchises, the New England Patriots, for the Vince Lombardi trophy.
The outcome looks like coming down to a battle between the Seahawks’ famed defence, ‘the legion of boom’, and the Patriots’ stellar offence anchored by future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady.
What is ‘deflate-gate’ and why has it dominated the build-up?
The NFL is investigating the New England Patriots to see why 11 of the 12 game balls used in the recent AFC Championship (SuperBowl semi-final) were under-inflated.
This alleged tampering is not permitted and would have made the balls easier for quarterback Tom Brady to grip and throw to his receivers, especially in the wet conditions in which the AFC Championship was played.
Who is going to win?
My head says the Patriots but my heart says the Seahawks.
If I’m being truthful though, my New York Jets allegiance means I will be rooting for coach Pete Carroll and his Seahawks.
I just couldn’t stomach watching Tom Brady and Bill Belichick celebrating another Super Bowl.
An NFL playing field is 100 yards long with stripes running across the field at five-yard intervals. There are shorter lines called hash marks marking each one-yard interval and on each end of the field is an end zone that extends a further ten yards.
FIRST AND TEN
A ‘down’ is a play. From the time the ball is snapped to the time the play is whistled complete by an official is considered one down. A team’s offence is given four downs (plays) to move ten yards toward their opponent’s end zone. The first play of a series is called ‘first and ten’ because it is the first down and ten yards are needed to receive a new set of downs.
The object of the game is to outscore your opponent by advancing the football into their end zone for as many touchdowns as possible. There are other ways of scoring, but a six-point touchdown is the prime objective. After a team scores they must then kick off to the other team and the process begins all over again.
Each NFL game features opposing squads made up of an offence, defence and special teams. Eleven men are allowed on the field at any one time but unlimited substitutions are permitted provided players enter the field when the ball is dead. If a kicking play is needed (kick extra points or punt) then both teams will use their special teams at the same time.
Unlike other sports, there are rarely draws in the NFL. If a game ends in a tie then overtime is played. Each team gets one chance to score unless the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown on its initial possession. Play continues in sudden death until a winner is determined and the game automatically ends upon any score.