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Posted by Claire Mokrauer-Madden at 11:11AM   |  Add a comment

The NFL road show, featuring the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos, with Jerry Rice and John Elway in tow, plus scores of hangers on and media technicians, arrived in London last week. Almost 85,000 people attended the match at the brand new Wembley Stadium.  This 4th in the NFL’s annual series of ‘international’ matches was a close game, dull in the first half, more exciting in the second, when 37 of the 40 points were scored and two critical refereeing decisions shaped the outcome. The 49ers came out on top, a bit fortuitously, but any win is good when a team has a 1-5 record. The game turned on penalties that negated two explosive Bronco touchdowns. The Broncos’ place kicker also missed a conversion which would have brought his team to within a converted touchdown of the ‘Niners’.  “Wait a minute,” I jokingly commented to Gen at the time, “a skewed conversion reminds me of the ‘spot betting’ scandal in the recent Test series between England and Pakistan.” Had the Broncos place kicker found a betting shop in central London? What are the odds on a missed convert, one that is not even blocked, not even close? Shades of “the 5th ball of my 4th over will be a ‘no ball’”. To say nothing of the officials who were decisive in turning a game Denver should have won into the 49ers’ second win of the season**.

All dressed up for the game!

Over here we believe that American football developed out of Rugby which in turn developed out of football/soccer. Both parent games are played on a wider and longer pitch, for longer periods [80 minutes and 90 minutes], with fewer substitutions and no time outs. When substitutions are made in football’s Champions League the distance the player has run is shown on the screen: for example, in last night’s Tottenham Hotspur v Inter Milan game, the Spurs winger Aaron Lennon was substituted in the 80th minute having run over 10km. [He also made tackles and was tackled.] Spurs have a minimum of 38 games each year and are allowed just three subs per game. To play football at this level the players need to be very fit. No doubt the same is true in US football, but the game doesn’t show it. No US player would run 10km in a game.

 

The main novelty the Americans introduced was the forward pass. Much of the equipment and the sophisticated strategy came later.  The biggest difference between US football and its grandfather, Association Football or soccer, and its father, Rugby, lies in the amount of time the players actually PLAY the game.  I am not challenging the supreme fitness of the players, nor the sophistication of the strategy which calls for numerous substitutions and time-outs. But for the soccer or rugby public it does seem strange that US football has too many occasions when fit, professional athletes stand in half huddles on the pitch doing nothing but drinking water and chatting amiably to each other.  US football is far slower and, arguably, less physically strenuous than other versions of the game.

Non-committal QPR hat, Bill

 

Check this data compiled during the first half of the Wembley match.

 

ACTUAL CLOCK TIME FOR 1st half: start 5:00pm; finish 6:12pm = 72 minutes

ACTUAL GAME TIME: Two 15 minute quarters = 30 minutes

ACTUAL PLAYING TIME: [from snap to end of play]

Possession 1: DENVER 37 seconds [5 plays]

Possession 2: SF 31 seconds [4 plays]

Possession 3: Denver 50 seconds [8 plays]

Possession 4: SF 70 seconds [13 plays]

Possession 5: Denver 49 seconds [6 plays]

Possession 6: SF 37 seconds [6 plays]

Possession 7: Denver 41 seconds [7 plays]

Possession 8: SF 41 seconds [6 plays]

Possession 9: Denver 83 seconds [12 plays]

Possession 10: SF 1 second [1 play]

TOTAL PLAYING TIME:   440 seconds = 7 minutes 20 seconds for 68 plays OR roughly 24% of the ‘game time’ and a mere 10% of the ‘real time’ of 72 minutes. Each play lasts on average about 6.5 seconds.

 

I ask these questions of the NFL.

1. Do fans attend games to watch superb athletes at the peak of their performance OR to be otherwise entertained by the razzmatazz, the cheerleaders, the Mexican waving, the tailgate parties, etc.

2. Can football players & fans cope with bursts of play that last longer than 10 seconds?

3. Do the cheerleaders, also fit, choreographed and with facial make-up [like the running backs and receivers] perform more strenuously and for a longer period of time in a game than the players?

4. Who is more highly paid? The [arguably] underperforming fit athletic footballers or the equally fit cheerleaders?

5. Are some fans more active than players in a match? Do they burn more calories watching a game & cheering for their team than the majority of kitted players?

 

** DISCLAIMER: The author does not believe that the BRONCO place keeper and the referees placed bets on the outcome of the match.

Thanks for this one, Carter!

-Bill


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