The National Football League kicks off this week in the “U.S. and A”.
And this year, I would encourage NRL fans to give it a try.
There are some differences. Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes just signed a ten year deal for $450 million (USD).
That’s a player – not a team. There’s also a lot of confusing rules and the common complaint I hear is that NFL games “take too long”.
Both valid points. However, it is the kind of sport that you can have on, while you’re working or doing something else, so it’s actually pretty easy to keep up with.
There are a bunch of similarities to rugby league too. The six-tackle rule in league is similar, except in the NFL it’s four tackles (or “downs”) and if you break the ten-yard line (from scrimmage), you get an instant restart to your set.
Other than that, you try to score tries (touchdowns), kick conversions, make tackles and make exciting plays. The NFL also has it’s version of Cameron Smith in Tom Brady.
Though Brady is slightly older, supermodel Gisele Bündchen is his wife, he’s just moved teams for the first time in his career and has impeccable teeth.
Now to give further NRL context, here is your team-by-team guide to the NFL:
NRL Team: Melbourne Storm
NFL equivalent: New England Patriots
Led by the greatest player and coach of the modern era, both these franchises have had sustained success over the last two decades, in spite of competitive measures to even things out. Plus, a penchant for questionable on and off-field tactics.
NRL Team: Parramatta Eels
NFL equivalents: Dallas Cowboys/San Francisco 49ers
Glamour clubs who enjoyed their ‘golden days’ over 20 years ago and despite enduring some lean recent seasons, are now back in title contention. Also Jarryd Hayne played for both teams.
NRL Team: Canterbury Bulldogs
NFL equivalents: Seattle Seahawks/Washington Football Team
Have historically won titles based on toughness and grit. Followed by incredibly passionate fans, these teams fight hard against anyone. Recently embroiled in troubles – losing sponsors and Washington, even lost their team moniker (Redskins).
NRL Team: Brisbane Broncos
NFL equivalent: New York Giants
Big time teams, who’ve had plenty of success, but now suck.
NRL Team: New Zealand Warriors
NFL equivalents: Carolina Panthers/Detroit Lions/Tennessee Titans/Buffalo Bills
Struggle for on-field success and off-field relevance. Not ‘sexy’ teams, but can be ‘the team no one wants to play’ on occasion.
NRL Team: Canberra Raiders
NFL equivalent: Chicago Bears
Both in places with fairly unpleasant weather. Have had legendary success with giant icons of the game – in the Raiders ‘Big Mal’ and Bears ‘The Fridge’.
NRL Team: Gold Coast Titans
NFL equivalents: Cleveland Browns/Miami Dolphins/Cincinnati Bengals/ Arizona Cardinals/Jacksonville Jaguars
Coaching troubles, injuries and being unable to attract/retain players usually leaves them out of contention. Even when they do show promise, they somehow find a way to be who they are.
NRL Team: Newcastle Knights
NFL equivalents: Denver Broncos/Pittsburgh Steelers
Teams from hard-working cities, who’ve had title success and a few all-time legends wear their colours.
NRL Team: Wests Tigers
NFL equivalent: New York Jets
Rebuilds on rebuilds on rebuilds.
At times, it’s been ugly.
NRL Team: Penrith Panthers
NFL equivalent: Baltimore Ravens
Lead by the current and expected MVP’s of the respective leagues, both have had decent success – including multiple championships. Baltimore was the team of the NFL last year, as Penrith is proving to be in this year’s NRL. Baltimore didn’t go on to win the title, Kansas City did.
NRL Team: Cronulla Sharks
NFL equivalents: Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Los Angeles Rams/Los Angeles Chargers
Set in temperate beachside locations, these are teams that have threatened more than they’ve delivered. All have a stack of young talent coming through, with Tampa Bay even welcoming Tom Brady and his damn teeth!
NRL Team: St George Illawarra Dragons
NFL equivalent: Las Vegas Raiders
Traditional teams. Both been kinda bad lately. Two of the league’s more iconic brands.
NRL Team: South Sydney Rabbitohs
NFL equivalents: Atlanta Falcons/Minnesota Vikings/Houston Texans/New Orleans Saints
The old Brandy song ‘Almost Doesn’t Count’ seems to sum up these sides. They all contend, but ultimately pretend. The Saints and Bunnies have won championships a few years back, but it’s been finals heartbreak since. Speaking of heartbreak, in Super Bowl LI, the Atlanta Falcons lead 28-3 and lost. Ouch.
NRL Team: Kansas City Chiefs
NFL equivalent: Sydney Roosters
Ba-dum, ba-dum… “THE CHAMP IS HERE!”
The Chiefs won the Super Bowl back in February and the Chooks are aiming for a three-peat. Jamess Tedesco ain’t getting paid $450 million though.
NRL Team: North Queensland Cowboys
NFL equivalents: Indianapolis Colts/Philadelphia Eagles
The sorts of teams you never quite know what to expect. Even when they seem like they should suck, all of a sudden they’re in contention and knocking top teams off. The Colts and Cows had sustained success lead by a couple of all time talents in Payton Manning and Johnathan Thurston, with all teams having won a title since 2007.
NRL Team: Manly Sea Eagles
NFL equivalent: Green Bay Packers
Poles apart – Manly from the Northern beaches, Green Bay tucked away in a Wisconsin freezer – but both clubs have had tremendous success over the years. Both iconic teams have also refused the urge to modernise their stadia in any real shape or form.