So, one thing I have noticed whilst wandering around the UK as of late, is that there are a ton more NFL fans. The sport of football is truly bleeding its way into Europe. And it’s about damn time. This country simply didn’t have enough die-hard sports fans (*rolls eyes so hard my head started to hurt*).
Unfortunately, the majority of people here in England are either Jaguars or Jets fans. (Some are Pats fans, but they are irrelevant). This means they have no idea how the game is supposed to be played. Enter me. I am a (self-proclaimed) football expert and have decided to dedicate my time to teach you this lovely sport.
Welcome to the First Edition of “Football for Academically Challenged British Plonkers”. Today, we will learn the absolute basics of football. Urban Meyer, pay attention.
Despite living in the “freest and best country in the world”, Americans are not that smart and don’t seem to have a firm grasp on limbs. That’s why FOOTball is a game played with, as the name would suggest, your hands.
The objective is simple: score more points than you opponent. Despite this simplicity, some teams (*cough* Lions *cough*) don’t quite understand this “winning” concept.
Each team has an offense, defense, and special teams. The offense is responsible for scoring points, whilst the defense attempts to stop the offense from scoring points. For an example of good offense, just watch the Bills in their 2021 Wild Card game against the Patriots. For an example of good defense, do not watch the Patriots in the 2021 Wild Card game against the Bills.
How to Play
Football is played on a 120-yard field. (Why? Because Americans have to be unique and are basically the only country on the planet to use an imperial unit system). At each end of the field, there are 10-yard long “zones”, where points — or “touchdowns” — are scored. (Did you hear that Jaguars?) This is also where the “goalposts” are. More on that later.
The game starts with the special teams kicking the ball into the opponent’s territory. This starts the clock, a 60-minute game split into four quarters of 15 minutes, and a halftime after two quarters. Also, each team has three 30-second timeouts in each half. Don’t worry, things only get more confusing and complicated.
Moving the Ball
In order to move down the field and (hopefully) score a “touchdown”, the offense has four opportunities, known as “downs”, to advance 10 yards down the field. There are two ways to do this:
- Throw the ball
- Run with the ball (in your hands)
If things weren’t complicated enough, each play is timed. The offense must make a play within 40 seconds, otherwise they receive a penalty. The team could use a timeout to stop the clock and prevent a penalty. In some situations, it’s beneficial to allow the clock to run out. (I AM TALKING DIRECTLY TO YOU BRANDON STALEY FOR RUINING ALL OUR HOPES AND DREAMS TO WITNESS TWO TEAMS ADVANCE IN THE PLAYOFFS ON A TIE!!)
If the offense doesn’t advance the ball 10 yards in three downs, that team usually “punts”. This is when one team kicks the ball to the other team, voluntarily turning over possession (*I just threw up a little bit*). Punts are the most useless play in the entirety of football and should be abolished immediately.
If the team gets 10 (or more) yards in three plays, they get another set of downs to gain 10 yards again. And this keeps going until they make their way to the end zone and score a TD. (Or until they lose possession of the ball.)
If they score a TD, the special teams get a chance to put an extra point on the board by kicking the ball through the goal posts (looking at you Tyler Bass, #NFLsSwaggiestKicker). This is literally the only time feet are used in the entire game of FOOTball. (Punting doesn’t count, because ew.)
The team with the most points at the end of the 90-minutes wins. We do not discuss overtime here. It’s blasphemous.
Please continue to follow along. Next week, we discuss the player positions on the field and which position does not belong on the field — or in the sport — at all. IYKYK.