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A Guide To The NFL For Soccer Fans

Sep 8, 2008
With the NFL coming to England and NFL hospitality spreading throughout the corporate world like wildfire it is high time that the English finally got their heads around the cultural anomaly that is America football. This article focuses on the early history of the NFL and a basic overview of the rules that will allow even the most avid soccer fan to enjoy NFL hospitality.

With establishment of the elitist East coast universities came the inter university competition. These matches began as soccer matches around 1869 but swiftly moved to rugby over the next seven years, mainly due to the elitist universities in England playing rugby. In 1876 there was a convention in Massachusetts where the first pioneers drew up the basic rules, which were a development from the existing laws of rugby.

In 1892 the sport has spread throughout the US and the competition was fierce meaning that players were being unofficially paid for grudge match local games. The first contracted official player came in 1895 and the first exclusively professional side played throughout the season of 1896. The NFL was well and truly under development and points were raised for a touchdown and lowered for field goals to make the sport more entertaining.

For the next two decades the sport went through technical changes such as the forward pass being legalised in 1906. The sport was growing at a rate that was difficult to sustain due to three main reasons; the players were being paid too much money, this was causing them to team-hop following the money and teams were playing athletes that were still enrolled in a college.

This continued until the US involvement in World War II began with the formation of the game more or less as we know it. The game has evolved quite a considerable amount from the rugby routes although the main objective is to get the ball over the line at the opposing end of the field then convert your goal, which is the same in rugby.

One team punts to another who then run the ball back and then a series of 5 downs begins. The ball must be passed or run in an attempt to achieve a series of first downs which means that the ball has travelled at least ten yards from the point where the previous down began. If a team is in possession of the ball and drops it then this is called a fumble and the next team to ground the ball comes away with a first down.

If a pass is thrown and missed by the receiver of the same team then it is the next down from the same position as the previous one. If all five downs are completed and the team has still not reached a first down then possession is reversed to the defensive from the point where the ball was grounded. This is why teams opt to punt on the fifth down which means that they kick the ball as far as they can to gain territorial advantage.

This is performed by the special ops team who also do field goals. There are generally also defensive and offensive teams that interchange depending on who is in possession. The game is one of the most physical in existence and serious injuries were commonplace before regulation safety equipment and rules of engagement were brought into action. It still remains extremely physical which is one of the reasons it is among the most popular contact sports in existence.
About the Author
Dominic Donaldson is an expert on NFL hospitality and is an event manager dealing with an array of unique events.
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