Right now, in the United States, the American football season is building to a crescendo. The days get shorter, the nights get colder, and fans have a decent idea of how their team’s season is going to pan out. Months of off-season anticipation and excitement (the first week of February all the way to September) have led to this; soon we’ll know who is going to make the playoffs and have a chance of playing their way into the most watched sporting event on the planet: the Superbowl. A place where history, dreams and legends are made. Last season’s Superbowl was a perfect example of the wonderful stories that this incredible game can create: on one side, the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady—considered by many to be the ‘GOAT’ (greatest of all time) and winner of five Superbowl titles—versus the Philadelphia Eagles, led by a substitute quarterback called Nick Foles, who was only playing because the star quarterback Carson Wentz was injured. After a momentous, back-and-forth tussle, Foles and the Eagles came out victorious, confirming to many that football is the most unpredictably dramatic sport on earth, and writing Foles’s name into the pantheon of NFL history.
For many English people, the world of pads, helmets and cheerleaders represent a confusing amalgamation of rugby and wrestling; a three-hour circus full of strange movements, endless stoppages and eccentric terminology. And these people aren’t wrong! To the uninitiated, gridiron can appear clunky, overblown and immeasurably tedious. But once you start to pick up the basics of the rules and tactics, a new picture emerges: an unbelievably well-choreographed combination of balletic athleticism, brute strength, chess-like strategy and graceful execution of physics-defying agility.
In the simplest terms, the eleven-man teams are split into Offense and Defence, so that at any given time, one team’s Offense will play the opposition’s Defence—and vice versa. The Offense has four attempts—called downs—to move the ball ten yards by either running with the ball rugby-style, or throwing it down the field to one of the receivers, who will attempt to run in cleverly-devised patterns in order to create space and receive the pass. These attempts are called plays. Once a player is tackled, the play is over and the game stops. The next play starts from where the player was tackled. The ultimate aim is to move the ball into the opposition’s Endzone (similar to the area which you score a try in rugby) thus scoring a touchdown. If the Offense succeeds in getting ten (or more) yards, they receive another four downs. If they fail, they will try and kick (punt) the ball as far away from their Endzone as possible, in order to make it harder for the opposition team’s Offense to score when they take to the pitch. At any time, the Defence can try and strip the ball from the Offense or intercept one of their throws and advance it towards the opposite Endzone.
Still confused? I don’t blame you. It takes a whole heap of time and patience to absorb all the multitude of fine details the game has to offer, to decode what on Earth is meant by Tight End Waggle, bubble-screen, Hail-Mary and quick-slant. But as you slowly start to pick it up, you realise that this sport offers so much more drama, tactical prowess and nail-biting tension than so many others. In a large percentage of matches, the result will go down to the last pass in the last second of the game, with thousands of camera lenses flashing, the pigskin ball arcing through the floodlit heavens, and four or five 200lb men jumping like gazelles to try and grab the prize in the Endzone. And because there are only 32 teams in a country the size of America, competition for places is fierce. A bigtime mistake might be a player’s last. It’s commonplace for players to be cut from a team the morning after a big loss: there’s always someone else waiting in line for their chance. Hard to reconcile that with a sport like cricket or soccer, where some players can have an underwhelming season and still find themselves signed up to the squad.
But this is football. Brutal, relentless, elite. Filled with stories like Brady and Foles, heroes and villains, underdogs and Hall-of-Famers, pride and glory, misery and defeat. If you like sport, my advice is to sit back, grab a hotdog and give the game a real good go. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you find!
And in the spirit of trying something different, don’t forget to flip on the kettle and discover our delicious range of Hoogly Teas! Our blends are as exotic and thrilling as anything American Football can conjure, combining tantalising tastes with the cosy comfort of Danish-inspired Hygge!
After safely removing your helmet and gumshield, try a mug of Baked Apple Chai! Mellow Sri Lankan tea is the quarterback here, carefully coordinating a combination of Apple, Ginger, Cinnamon and cloves to bring you an alluring and harmonious brew that is sure to score a touchdown!
For those who yearn for the fire and energy found in football, why not try Lemon and Ginger herbal infusion? This satisfying brew will warm your cockles and pads, and give you a zesty edge over the competition. So good you’ll keep coming back for more!
And if you’re after the magic of the Superbowl, bring the special occasion home with Sparkling White tea. This beautiful Chinese brew is elegantly blended with flowers and fruit pieces to give you the refreshing taste of victory with every sip!
That’s it for this week, folks. Bring on game night. Go Vikes!!!
Written by Chris Bedford