Oh my God. Did you watch the NFL last night? I was at Dinerama in Shoreditch for the Budweiser SuperBowl party and it was so mega. When I was younger, I remember my dad and uncle staying up to watch the Super Bowl but could honestly never understand it. Now I get it – NFL is awesome.
The closest thing we have in the UK that I could use to describe the SuperBowl is the rugby world cup final. But that’s still not even close. The SuperBowl is very typically American – loud, exciting, and dramatic. That’s fair to say, right? Even the Sky Sports coverage was exciting – lots of cool graphics and flashing screens as we got closer to kick-off. Which is another thing – the build-up is all part of the fun. I mean, the party started at 7pm and the game didn’t start ’til 11.30pm. Which left plenty of time to drink Budweiser and feast on American-style food. Things like BBQ chicken wings from my favourite street-food place BBQ Lab.
There’s a huge amount of rivalry in SuperBowl but it’s all friendly. Or at least, it was at the Bud party. On the way in, we had to choose who we were supporting so we could get a wristband that would flash at the right times (i.e. when our chosen team scored). I went with New England Patriots, simply because I drove on the west coast to Cape Cod after a month in L.A. (it was my A Level reward/holiday sitch).
Inside Dinerama is like a little village in its own right. There’s about seven different street-food places (BBQ Lab et al), cocktail bars (one is called the German Sex Dungeon – I KNOW), and lounge space. They’d put up a load of big screens all over the place and Ghetts was in the middle with the DJ booth. Ghetts is a very cool grime rapper. I know this because my friend Ashley James told me and she knows this sort of thing.
By the time I left, I’d learnt the basics of NFL, which I’ll try to share.
So. The concept is sort of similar-ish to rugby. Except that you can tackle anyone (not just the person with the ball), and you can pass forward. Each time someone is tackled and the ball goes to ground, the game is re-set to a new ‘play’. A team gets 4 plays and then it switches to the other team. There is a caveat to this which allows a team to get another 4 plays but I can’t remember what it is. Each play has a certain amount of ground that a team has to cover. The first play is 10 yards, second play is 7 yards and third play is three yards (I think). If there is a ‘fumble’ and the ball is released from what is sort of somewhere between a rugby scrum and a school-yard bundle, it’s free game – whoever gets it gets possession for their four plays. The aim is to make enough ground to get close to the opposition’s ‘touchdown’ zone and score a touchdown (basically a try, but you don’t actually have to touch the ball down. Contrary to all logic, I might add. So players tend to do funny dances when they get there). If you get that, you then get a shot at kicking over the posts. Basically a conversion.
There’s about 40 players on the bench at any one time and only 15 on the pitch, so substitutions are near-constant. The coach might switch people between plays because they have reached a different area of the pitch and someone else is stronger there. Or For the fourth play when the attacking team is about to loose possession, they might bring on stronger kickers who can gain as much ground as possible before possession switches.
Does that make any sense? If all else fails, just look for Tom Brady. He is arguably the best Quarterback in history. And is so, so pretty. Which is important. Especially when you don’t really understand the rules..