Login Register

NFL Super Bowl XLVIII: Need persuading? Here's why you should watch

By jrmaidment  |  Posted: January 28, 2014

Comments (13)

When the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos take to the frozen field of the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on February 2 for the 48th edition of the Super Bowl more than 100 million Americans are expected to tune in.

And while the National Football League’s grand final has long established itself as an American institution its status elsewhere in the world has always been subject to fluctuating levels of interest.

That was never likely to be enough for the NFL which has aspirations to be the number one sports league in the world, having made no secret of its envy for the Premier League’s global brand.

The result of its concerted effort to market the game on foreign shores over the last decade, with a particular focus on the Super Bowl, its largest shop window, has been a surging upswing in popularity.

And no country has seen a larger spike in interest than the UK which is set to host three regular season games at Wembley in 2014.

So with more people than ever before expected to stay up into the early hours to kneel before the gods of gridiron, what’s the appeal?

In short it’s a unique combination of athleticism, showmanship and old-school American flash.

There is simply nothing else like it in the world, according to Jim Byrne, 74, who lives in Gloucester, and has been involved with American football in Gloucestershire since 1985.

“I got involved in American football for the first time with the Cotswold Bears, a team which lasted three or four years in the 1980s,” he said.

“The Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears actually came from the US to play at Wembley in the 80s and us being the Cotswold Bears organised a match of our own between ourselves and the Dunstable Cowboys.

“We played the match at Crystal Palace and the Bears beat the Cowboys and we got to meet American legends like Mike Ditka and William The Fridge Perry.”

For Jim the sport’s appeal is obvious.

He said: “It is such an absorbing game and the showmanship is amazing. There is nothing like it in the UK.

“They really do know how to put on a show.

“I never could visualise myself getting this excited about a game of soccer or a game of Gaelic football.

“There is just something about it.”

But with a reputation for a rulebook which borders on the incomprehensible, how easy is the game to watch as a rookie fan?

Here’s how it works:

The game is split into four quarters of 15 minutes.

When a team has the ball it has four chances, called downs, to try and move the ball 10 yards either by throwing from one teammate to another or by running with the ball.

The team on defence is tasked with stopping the team on offense from gaining those ten yards.

If the team on offense doesn’t move the ball ten yards in four downs the ball will be kicked to the other team to have a go.

The aim of both teams is to get the ball into the other team’s endzone – a rectangle at the end of each pitch similar to the try line in rugby.

A touchdown, getting the ball in the endzone, is worth six points or a team can kick the ball through the posts in a similar way to rugby for three points.

Meanwhile, the defence can gain control of the ball through intercepting it or by knocking it out of hands of an opposing player and grabbing it.

The team with the most points on the board at the end of the game wins.


“People who like soccer usually say they don’t like American football because it is ‘stop, start, stop, start’,” Jim said.

“But it is a really exciting sport and it is brilliant to watch.

“A lot of the people who criticise the game probably have not actually watched it.

“The rules are really simple and easy to understand. It couldn’t be any simpler.”

Read more from Gloucester Citizen

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters


  • Straw92  |  February 01 2014, 12:47PM

    Harden has proved time and time again, what a class act he is and why the scrum becomes less of a force without him.

    |   9
  • freshhglaws01  |  February 01 2014, 12:43PM

    Harden is the number 1 tight head at Gloucester Rugby by a country mile.

    |   9
  • reeves  |  February 01 2014, 12:39PM

    Harden is the best tight head at Gloucester by a mile.

    |   9
  • J_Buddie  |  February 01 2014, 12:36PM

    Harden is a superb player and rightly Gloucester Rugby's first choice in the No. 3 shirt.

    |   9
  • Larry-Levens  |  February 01 2014, 12:32PM

    Harden has had a storming season. It is no wonder he is selected to start the most games of all the front row forwards. And not just any old games. It is the key games where you need your best players.

    |   9
  • Straw92  |  February 01 2014, 12:28PM

    Harden has been an absolute star this season. He deserves an early contract renewal for the great effort he has put in this season.

    |   9
  • reeves  |  February 01 2014, 11:36AM

    Harden = Top Man = Top tighthead.

    |   9
  • freshhglaws01  |  February 01 2014, 11:32AM

    Harden = Gloucester Rugby's first choice tight head. No doubt about it!

    |   9
  • J_Buddie  |  January 31 2014, 6:57PM

    What is the most hilarious thing that the Gloucester Rugby and Rupҽrt Hardҽn hating multi-troll NOTArugbylover/shedheadNOTLIKELY/gloslover-NOT/dopey_lerone has ever come up with... pretending that he has a former club. The only club he has ever belong to is the local flower-pressing club. #Harden owns the number 3 shirt. He has no real competition for it.

    |   9
  • Don-Deakin  |  January 30 2014, 7:18PM

    ...And up pops the very Gloucester Rugby and Rupҽrt Hardҽn hating multi-troll, "GlosAnarchy", with his usual drivel demonstrating again that he hasn't got the first clue about rugby union. Remember, he has never been to any Gloucester Rugby games and he has no idea where Kingsholm is or who any of the players are. He most certainly has never, ever played the game and, once again, he has just proven how clueless and dull he is.

    |   9