Part of the skill of a writer is knowing where to begin a story, so where do I start with this new blog? How about with the question, why American Football? Let’s start at the beginning, with a special team, but even though I am a Bengals fan this is not where our story begins. No, our story begins with the 1985 Chicago Bears.
The 85 Bears are one of the iconic teams of American football, famed for their innovative 46 defence, their swagger, the 15-1 season, and for their 46-10 Super Bowl XX win. They had future hall of fame players like Walter Payton and Mike Singletary, as well as cult heroes like William ‘The Refrigerator’ Perry. Such was their status that they even made waves across the pond here in the UK. I was only six at the time, but I remember them being on the news, and whilst I had no clue what a 46 defence was (we can get into the details of that another day) there was a mid eighties surge of interest in American football over here, driven partly by the spark that the 85 Bears provided.
This surge led to channel four, the fourth out of four channels for those who don’t remember back then, to start showing games and highlight packages late at night. I was far too young to stay up, but curious due to the buzz at my primary school, and armed with a book my parents bought me to explain the rules, I started to watch tapes my parents would make of these programs. I was soon hooked, and a feature of our hallway when I was growing up was a poster that I made every season on a sheet of A4, which would be stuck on the living room door to remind my parents to switch to channel four when they went to bed so my game would be taped.
The first season that I properly remember, is the 1988 season and even then it is pretty vague. However, I know that it was season that led me to support my team. A great Cincinnati Bengals team feature a high powered offense went all the way to Super Bowl XXIII and a heart breaking loss, with that touchdown pass with under a minute to go, to one of the major NFL dynasties the San Francisco 49ers. This loss should have prepared me for what was to come supporting them, but it was too late. By then I was hooked on this exciting team who played at a place called the jungle, little would I know that since then we’d win one more playoff game in 1990 and currently have the longest playoff win drought in NFL. I was fascinated by the tactics, the speed, and the otherness of the sport. In short, I was a fan.
Coverage would wax and wane over the coming years, but I followed however I could and watched games whenever possible. Thankfully the internet came along and I could follow online, throwing myself ever deeper into the growing amount of information that was available. These days, thanks to the NFL Gamepass, I can watch every snap the Bengals take in a season and watch any game that takes my fancy, so where next?
I love writing. I love football. This seems like the obvious next step. So in the midst of one of the best football world cups in years, which I am enjoying thoroughly, I am also studying the wrong football. Reading up on how to break down film, thinking about what analytics I want to take a look at, and planning articles. We are only sixty days from the start of the season and training camp is just round the corner. I am already excited so lets get started.
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