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With love from across the pond: 10 reasons why UK fans loved the NFL's centenary season

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Modified 01 Apr 2020
Top 5 / Top 10

The NFL has seen a steady rise in viewing figures in the UK over recent years, with SKY TV reporting growth of 40% on the back of each of the first two seasons that featured regular-season games taking place in English stadiums (2017 and 2018).

The figures for this 2019-20 season are yet to be published, but, something even more important is going on across the pond, in the land of tea-stained teeth: people are starting to talk about pro-football!

As more and more Brits begin to familiarize themselves with the rules of the game and figure out ways to fritter away their time during the advertisements (has anyone else read Sapiens?), it's now looking as though the NFL's dream of becoming everyone in the UK's second-favorite sport is much closer to a reality than many anticipated.

There will always be those who pour scorn on the notion of an American pastime becoming popularized across the Atlantic. Yet, these views are beginning to look increasingly outdated (viewing figures considered), and, for this NFL convert (and YES, I am from England), it seems like high-time for the rest of a dubious British public to get on board with America's game.

The reason, quite simply, is that the NFL was incredible this past season. It seemed like a new record was broken every other week and it has become must-see TV on a Sunday evening for many of the nation's sports enthusiasts.

With that in mind, here are 10 reasons why the NFL won over a legion of new fans in her majesty's Great Britain during the sport's centenary year:

#10 It was fun watching Cleveland Browns' hype train get derailed

Buffalo Bills v Cleveland Browns
Buffalo Bills v Cleveland Browns

Big things were expected from the Browns coming into the regular season, and quite rightly so. In Nick Chubb, they had one of the division's elite running-backs while wide-receiver Odell Beckham Jr was brought in for big money from the New York Giants to add a dash of flair out wide, and to make catches others couldn't. Big things, too, were expected of QB Baker Mayfield who enjoyed a solid campaign in 2018.


The reality was a bit different for those fans sitting in the Dawg Pound last year though.

During the first part of the regular season, they were left bemused as they watched their team move away from Chubb and the rushing game in favor of a passing offense that struggled for yards during the early going.

Mayfield, far from pushing on and solidifying himself as one of the division's premier QBs, looked wildly inconsistent, and OBJ was struggling for discipline both on and off the field. Couple of these failings with a flimsy offensive line and a defense that struggled to make big plays, and you are left with a wildly inconsistent outfit that was a lot of fun to watch.

To put it into soccer terms, it was a bit like when QPR threw together that expensively assembled squad during their last stint in the EPL: the entire nation enjoyed watching them capitulate and the Browns' plight was a similar story and equally great viewing.

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Published 17 Feb 2020, 13:43 IST
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