When we think of Australian sports, it’s inevitably the AFL that first comes to mind. After that, you might think of the ABL or NRL, then maybe soccer, swimming, tennis, and so on. Despite the huge cultural export from the United States in terms of the popular arts, like film and TV, music, and fashion, and with the notable exception of basketball, American sports have remained kind of a niche interest over here.
So when you see someone rocking an NFL tshirts, you know there’s a good chance they are either an American who has come to check out these kangaroos and beaches everyone keeps raving about, or an Australian who has become weirdly fanatical about American sports.
And if there’s anything that more readily identifies a fanatical NFL fan than a New York Jets cap or a Baltimore Ravens jersey, it’s their highly specialised knowledge of arcane facts and minutiae related to the sport’s storied history, paired with their tendency to deploy this knowledge at any given moment and with no apparent stimulus.
In their defence, it does have a pretty cool history. We’ve assembled some of the most interesting trivia from America’s most popular sport. Oh and did we mention…
NFL Is the US’ Most Popular Sport
And by, like, a lot. Not only is the NFL the most popular sport in the US, it is also the 9th most popular sport in the entire world. And it draws crowds like nothing else, literally. On average, an NFL game pulls 67,405 spectators, more than any other sports league in the world. Even if you don’t know what kind of sport the Super Bowl hosts, you will be familiar with the term and have some idea of the fanatical reverence with which this annual event is treated.
It Is Also the Most Betted On
Every year, millions of bets are placed on the outcomes of NFL games. Since the rise of online betting, most of these bets have been placed through online bookmakers, which are popular for their ease of access, wide variety of payment options, and a constant stream of promotions.
It Used to Be Insanely Dangerous
“Used to be?” we hear you say. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a game known as gridiron, American Football is a high-impact sport. But it used to be way worse. In 1905, US President Theodore Roosevelt threatened to ban the sport if players could not please refrain from killing each other quite so often. One headline from the time read “Football’s Death Harvest” and the article went on to enumerate the 19 deaths and 137 injuries recorded that year. After that, some changes to the rules and regulation protective equipment were introduced. Probably for the best.
The First American Football Players Couldn’t Carry the Ball
The first iterations of American football were a mish-mash of rugby and soccer, and the rules changed from place-to-place and game-to-game. Most historians agree that the first game of American Football took place in 1869 between the college teams of Princeton and Rutgers, but it didn’t look anything like the NFL games you see today. For one thing, players couldn’t pick up the ball and carry it; they could only kick it or bat it with their hands.
The Huddle Was Invented by a Hearing-Impaired American Football Player
The modern huddle now common to every team sport has its origins in American Football. Paul D. Hubbard, a deaf player for Gallaudet University, communicated with his team using sign language. Concerned that the other team could decipher his conversations, he invented the huddle to block their view.
Cap-Z Range of NFL Team Merch
Whether you’re an American abroad or a local bitten by the NFL bug, Cap-Z is your one-stop-shop for American Football team merchandise and branded clothing. Browse our range online or drop in to one of our four locations around Melbourne.