Anorak | NFL UK: American Football Rules for Beginners

NFL UK: American Football Rules for Beginners

by | 25th, September 2014



THIS weekend, the NFL comes to Wembley stadium for a series of league fixtures.

There’s been a number of games in England and this year, the NFL is pulling out all the stops to showcase gridiron in the UK. It is the eighth successive year that regular-season NFL games will occur at the home of Association Football, with the Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins kicking things off on the 28th September before the Atlanta Falcons tackle the Detroit Lions on 26th October and the Dallas Cowboys go toe-to-toe with the Jacksonville Jaguars on 9th November.

With over 225,000 tickets sold for the games, the NFL annual jaunt to Blighty is not to be sniffed at.

Things are growing so rapidly that there’s talk of another UK franchise (you may remember the London Monarchs et al) and the possibility of a Super Bowl at Wembley.

However, there’s still a lot of confusion over American Football on these shores, so here at Anorak, let us try and clear some things up for you in a language that you’ll understand (because American Football fans are impenetrable when they try and explain it).

We’re going to miss a lot out, because these hints and tips are just for those complete novices who want to make sense of the game and thus far, haven’t been able to.


Why Is It Called Football When They Use Their Hands?

It just is. If you’re asking the question just to be a wise-ass, shut your face. Everyone’s already made that joke.

Player Positions

American Football is different from a lot of sports because there’s so many bloody players. That’s because you have one team that is designed to score points (the offence) and one to stop the opposition when they’re attacking (the defence). Both sets of players aren’t on the field at the same time. Basically, one team’s defence and offence will take it in turns. Offence is when you’ve got the ball, defence is when you haven’t. There’s also people who are hired only to kick the ball when needed. Yes. That must be quite boring. Now, here’s some of the positions you’ll care about when you’re starting out.

Quarterback –  The leader. The dude who decides what tactics are being implemented. The man who throws the ball to everyone.

Running back –  A player who runs with the football in his hands like a lunatic.

Wide receiver  Wide Receivers run really fast and the QB throws the ball at them a lot, for the WR to catch and score touchdowns. There’s other ways of scoring touchdowns, but it is the WR players you’ll immediately recognise.

Everyone else There’s a load of other people there who are designed to run at people or be really large immovable objects. You’ll learn their positions once you get into it.

Common America Football Terms

Downs Right. You know what a touchdown is, but what about the rest? Well, here’s some of the biggies. The game is played by a series of downs and yards. Basically, you’ve got four goes to score a touchdown and each attempt is a ‘down’. If you get beyond a certain point, which is marked by a yellow line on the telly, or a marker at the side of the pitch, you get another five goes. If you don’t manage to score after four downs, you have to kick it to your opponent or whatever. Basically, if you advance up the pitch for 10 yards so, lets say a Quarterback runs for 10 yards with the ball in his hand, or throws it to someone else who is stood 10 or more yards away, you get a first down, thereby getting another four goes. You keep doing this ’til you score, don’t advance far enough or the defence mess up your plans.

End zone that’s where you score a touchdown.

Incompletion  The Quarterback throws it to someone, but no-one catches it or whatever. Or maybe they threw it off the pitch. Either way, that’s an incomplete pass. You can’t progress unless someone catches it. An incomplete pass means you go to your next ‘down’ or chance.

Fumble Does exactly what it says on the tin. If someone drops the ball while in possession of it, the defence (the defending team) and offence (the attacking team) can go at it, jumping all over each other in a bid to get the ball. Imagine a pile-on at school.

Interception –  A pass thrown by the Quarterback (he does all the throwing) gets caught by a member

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Posted: 25th, September 2014 | In: Sports Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink