Football / Football III: Mark Learns to Speak American

Last year I commented on my friends, the Texans, and their eagerness to play five a sides with us when they hadn’t been brought up on endless games of football as we know it. It quickly became part of the jokes that we would one day play a game of Football with them, take them on at their own game. It never happened, for shame. Earlier this year I watched the Super Bowl and finally began to understand the complex game of Gridiron. So, with the dawn of the season a few months ago, I decided to start really getting into it.

Firstly I had to learn the rules. Some say the best way to learn the sport is to play it and without the ability to actually rustle together 10 or friends willing to learn the game too, I had to resort to the next best thing – EA Sports’ Madden NFL 10. The problem with this is that at the same time as learning the basics from which to be able to play the game well, I actually had to learn how to play Madden its self, which was not easy. After a few games, watched with intrigue by Steven, we both slowly came to appreciate the way the different plays are created, how they are applied, and how the differing teams (Specials, Licking, Defense etc) all work together. So far so good.

Secondly I had to find myself a team. I decided, like most, to choose not a team that’s absolutely brilliant, but not one that’s shit. I had chosen to support the Arizona Cardinals during the Super Bowl earlier this year, so I decided to read up on them. I read their Draft picks, learned some of their player names and their varying histories as time would tell them. Slowly, and surely, I became a Card fan. I was told however to choose another team; it’s best to have two teams they said. So I chose the Houston Texans as a nod not only to my Texan friends, but that they are the perennial underdogs, having never got to the Playoffs yet. So, like supporting Chelsea and Aston Villa, then. Plus, I have a higher chance of seeing the Texans play, don’t I?

Thirdly I had to watch the games. On Channel 5 on Sundays they show the NBC Sunday Night Football match – 1.05am to 4amish. It’s difficult to stay up, yes, and I haven’t managed it the last two weeks, but I stayed up all night to watch my team beat the NY Giants on the road, my first taste of the thrill of the NFL. The main problem is that the Sunday game is late – on Sky they show two other games. The 1pm and the 4pm kick off games. Without being able to get Sky I was stuck – from next month however I will be able to see them, as Sky is possible in our new flat. With showing the highlights, I can see most of the games I want anyway.

How successful has this reattribution been? Well… quite. Steven has taken an active interest in the games and the scores when I talk to him, it gives me another string to my sporting bow, opens up a world of knowledge and trivia (such like teams names) that I was blissfully unaware of, and has, rather crazily, gave me an excuse to buy something that I have always wanted: a sports uniform with a players name on the back. See below, modelled by the lovely Noah who is supplying me with my 11 Larry Fitzgerald Wide Receiver for the Arizona Cardinals jersey. I’ll post again when I have it possession.

For those that care, the Cards are 6 for 3 (6 wins to 3 losses) and are top of the NFC West. The Texans are 5 for 4 in the hotly contested AFC South, which is being steam rollered by the Indianapolis Colts.

Also: Cheerleaders.