Updated: Jan 30
Anyone who knows me, will know that I am a very competitive person. Sports has made up a big part of my life and watching it on television is definitely one of my passions. A friend of mine recently got me to start watching NFL football. Over the years, I have often watched the Super Bowl which, to the uninitiated, is the culmination of the season where the two best performing teams compete for the Vince Lombardi trophy, a very noteworthy accomplishment if you happen to be the team to win.
As a South African, or just about anyone other than an American, NFL football would make very little sense. First of all, football is played with every part of the body except the feet. Yes, kicking the ball is part of the game, but only as a last resort. I had to go and do my homework (see accompanying video) to find out about the game, its rules, and the different positions in which players take part.
And then there is the question of sleep, and how much you will get of it if you follow the fortunes of a given team. NFL football games tend to start at what I would like to call stupid o'clock in the morning. Every once in awhile, you may get to watch one which starts at around 8 – 9 PM but, for the most part, kick off is anywhere between 1 – 3 AM, only finishing perhaps three hours later. One really has to be a fan if, like myself, you still need to hold down a day job.
My team of choice is the Dallas Cowboys. They aren't bad, but my reason for following them was primarily because of the friend who introduced me to the game, and, if truth be told, their really hot cheerleading squad. Yes, I am a typical male. The 2022/2023 season is over for them. They made it to the second round of the postseason, not a bad result for a team of their stature, but of course, every fan was hoping that this would be their year. Sadly, it was not to be.
50% of the NFL game hinges on one player. The quarterback. Every play begins with this person, and his decisions primarily decide whether or not the team will win or lose. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback goes by the name of Dak Prescott and, albeit that I have a limited experience of analysing this game, from what I have seen, he is the real deal. However, to realise his potential I believe the franchise needs to get him to a sport psychologist.
NFL football is a cerebral game. It is extremely tactical and every play is crucial to the advancement of the team. One of the things that earmarked Dak Prescott's season was his battle with confidence. In the last couple of games of the postseason, he sacrificed quite a few turnovers – that is to say, the opposition intercepted a few of his passes, stifling the team's momentum, and ultimately costing them their chance at playing in the Super Bowl. I believe that the Dallas Cowboys have everything it takes to win. But, for that to happen, their quarterback has to find a way to compartmentalise plays and not let one or two bad ones get in his head.
In the last game against the San Francisco 49ers, one of their running backs, #20 Tony Pollard, suffered quite a severe twist of his ankle which sidelined him for the majority of the second half of the game and effectively limited the teams options in offence. For the Cowboys to make it through an entire season, considering how rough this game is, it is going to be imperative for them to secure more depth to their squad. The loss of one player cannot dictate the fortunes of the team if they are going to make it all the way.
Like many NFL fans, I am looking forward to Super Bowl LVII on 13 February, but it would have been much sweeter had my team of choice qualified to play. Ultimately, I believe it will be competed for by the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cincinnati Bengals. A little more hard to swallow, considering that the Dallas Cowboys finished second in their division behind the Eagles, and beat the Bengals in week two of the season proper.