Contents NFL:ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW 10 A brief history of
the super bowl 40 T he History of the super bowl
Discover the humble origins of the United Statesâ€™ most popular sports league
14 T he Rules of
Just how did the showpiece event in American sports first come to be?
10 greatest nfl games ount down ten of the most iconic C contests in the history of the NFL
44 2 016 Season review
Relive all the highs and lows of one of the most thrilling NFL seasons ever
Get to grips with the ins and outs of gridiron with our guide to the basics
50 s uper bowl LI
Discover how Tom Brady and the Patriots pulled off the greatest comeback of all time
20 H ow the
Find out just what makes the organisation that is the NFL tick
26 T he NFL Draft
stats & records
Read up on the event that sets every NFL season in motion
30 T he tech that
powers the nfl
The NFL is maybe the most high-tech league in the world â€“ we explore why
32 T he NFL
From Wembley to the Azteca, take a look at how the NFL has conquered the world
34 Ul timate NFL
Know your touchdown from your touchback with our handy reference guide
6 The NFL Book
top 50 NFL icons
Check out our list of some of the greatest football players ever to take the field
144 t eam stats
and records 150 Q uarterback records 152 Rushing records
154 R eceiving records 156 D efensive records 158 S pecial
teams records 160 S uper Bowl records
meet the teams 078 Buffalo Bills 080 M iami dolphins 082 new england patriots 084 new york jets 086 b altimore ravens 088 c incinnati bengals 090 c leveland browns 092 p ittsburgh steelers 094 h ouston texans 096 i ndianapolis colts 098 j acksonville jaguars 100 t ennessee titans 102 den ver broncos 104 kansas city chiefs raiders 106 oakland 108 Los Angeles chargers 110 dallas cowboys 112 new york giants 114 Philadelphia eagles 116 washington redskins 118 c hicago bears 120 detroit lions 122 g reen bay packers 124 minnesota vikings 126 atlanta falcons 128 carolina panthers 130 new orleans saints 132 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 134 A rizona Cardinals 136 Los Angeles Rams 138 San Francisco 49ers 140 Seattle Seahawks The NFL Book 7
NFL: All you need to know
The rules of football Without rules there would be chaos, and yet the NFL manages to combine both with aplomb
ootball is a lot like a game of chess: two teams strategically trying to pick the other apart, each looking to find and exploit weaknesses in their opponent. Although on paper some may dismiss it as nothing more than a group of human beings hurling themselves at each other, it is in fact a thinking man’s sport. Inspired by the likes of rugby and association football, it was the latter that established the initial set of rules in 1869. Fast-forward to the mid-1870s, however, and colleges still playing
14 The NFL Book
association football followed in the footsteps of rugby union, mainly because doing so allowed the ball to be carried. It wasn’t until 1880 until the laws we’re used to today started to establish themselves. Drawn up by Walter Camp – who’s often referred to as the ‘father of American football’ – he introduced the snap of the ball, eleven-player teams, the concept of downs, the ability to pass forward, the neutral zone and the size and shape of the football itself. While these have obviously evolved throughout the years,
this set of rules has always been seen as the foundation of the game. There’s little doubt that tactical prowess shapes every match, but everything in place has also been designed to create fast, exciting action. Overtime is only in place should two teams struggle to break each other down, and even then ‘super overtime’ exists so that there’s a definite winner. It’s no huge surprise that gridiron is not only one of the most popular sports in the United States, but across the entire planet.
The rules of football
H The football scrimmage is one of the most common things to see during any game
Basics Fundamentally, the objective of any football game is to outscore your opponent. Each game is contested over a period of four, 15-minute quarters, separated by a 12-minute break for half-time. There are also two-minute breaks at the end of the first and third quarters as both teams change ends. Both teams can also call up to three time-outs per half where the game is stopped. These periods are often used for a coach to reassess a team’s approach or give their players a rest. In terms of the teams themselves, they’re broken down into numerous squads with one 11man team having possession of the football and going on the offensive, and another 11 players, known as the defense, trying to stop this wave of attack. When trying to score, any and all progress is measured in yards as the offensive team tries to gain as much ‘yardage’ as possible. They do this by being given four downs (or chances) where they try and march forward 10-yards. If they’re successful, the downs are reset and a team tries once again. If they fail, possession is turned over to the other team. Naturally, the end goal is to put points on the scoreboard, and the best way to do this is by scoring a touchdown, the biggest single
score in a football game. Achieved when a ball is carried across the opposition’s goal and into the end zone, or caught in the end zone, it’s worth six points and also opens up the opportunity to try and gain an extra point with a ‘point after touchdown’ where a team will kick the ball through the goal posts. The offense can, however, try and score an extra two points by running or throwing the ball into the end zone. When a touchdown doesn’t seem on the cards, a team can also attempt a field goal. Worth three points, they can often change the fate of a game during the closing minutes. They can be attempted from anywhere on the field but most come from inside the defense’s 45-yard line. To convert a successful attempt, the ball must be kicked over the goal-post’s crossbar. Teams can also score points with a safety, which occurs when the offensive ball carrier is tackled behind his own goal line. Often the result of a team playing far too defensively, this is worth two points. Although that seems like a lot to take in, it only ever takes a single game to understand the basics and get a good feel for what’s going on. Think of football like a turn-based battle and you’ll be well on your way. The NFL Book 15
The Super Bowl
44 The NFL Book
2016 SEASON REVIEW New stars shone but old dogs ended up on top – the 2016 season proved the NFL is still the greatest show on earth
raham Gano’s 50-yard field goal, with seconds remaining, sailed wide left to hand the opening game of the season to the Denver Broncos by a point. The Super Bowl champions had vanquished the Carolina Panthers in a rematch of 2015’s title game, with the same result. Was this to be the opening salvo in a season-long struggle between the NFL’s two best teams, which would ultimately take them back to the Super Bowl? No. The Broncos, after a strong start, limped to a 9-7 record. And Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP, would have a forgettable year. It would be the first time since 2003 that both teams that had contested the previous Super Bowl failed to reach the postseason fixtures. Elsewhere, attention was firmly locked on New England, with minor deity Tom Brady set to serve a four-game suspension for his part in the ‘Deflategate’ ball-tampering scandal. Some were even predicting the end to Brady’s 16-year reign as the Patriots’ signal-caller, with Jimmy Garoppolo and the newly-drafted Jacoby Brissett ready to make hay. But instead, Brady came back with a vengeance, tearing through the league like it was a wet paper towel to claim his fifth Super Bowl ring. Brady aside, however, 2016 was a year of new beginnings. Sleeping giants began to stir. The Oakland Raiders, who had failed to make the postseason each year since 2002, got their act together. They lost only four regular season games, and might have made it to the big one had quarterback Derek Carr not broken his leg. But he’s just 26, as is Khalil Mack, the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Oakland – who will soon be the Las Vegas Raiders – may not have to wait 14 years for another playoff berth. The NFL Book 45
THE NFL BOOK
NFL games of all time
Home to some of the biggest sporting contests in history, the NFL is proof positive of how impactful sport can be at its best
here’s a reason the NFL is one of the world’s most watched sporting leagues. Showcasing an athletic spectacle that manages to capture the imagination of even the most casual fan, it has been responsible for some truly memorable moments since its inception in 1920. Year after year in the NFL, heroes are made and legends are born, and the actions of individuals and teams have contributed to some truly stunning contests.
68 The NFL Book
From records being broken to underdogs upsetting the odds, the NFL has played host to some truly spectacular games down the years. They’re milestones of the sporting world that deserve recognition, not only because of the outstanding skill on display, but because of the emotional resonance that these sporting achievements hold for so many people. With all that in mind, we present ten of the very best NFL games ever played for your reading pleasure.
10 greatest NFL games
‘The Greatest Game Ever Played’
When a game is dubbed ‘the greatest ever’, it’s natural to take the statement with a grain of salt. Fortunately, the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants did more than enough to justify such hyperbole when they met in the 1958 NFL Championship game. Ironically, the contest began poorly when Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas fumbled on the first play. By the end of the second quarter, however, Baltimore had fought to a 14-3 lead. What followed was better than any Hollywood movie. As New York found its feet and put 17 points on the board, the match seemed over with only seven seconds left on the clock. That was until Colts kicker Steve Myhra converted a 20-yard field goal to tie the game and ensure the match became the first in playoff history to go to overtime. With millions watching on TV, Baltimore running back Alan Ameche scored a oneyard touchdown to give his team victory. To this day, it’s claimed that this was the moment the NFL’s popularity took off. Score: Baltimore Colts 23 – 17 New York Giants Game: N FL Championship Date: 2 8 December 1958 Venue: Yankee Stadium, New York
The NFL Book 69
Mee t the teams
Does Big Ben have enough left in the tank to fire the Steelers to another Super Bowl?
f you’re new to NFL, there’s no better team to watch than Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a team that oozes quality at almost every position. The Steelers have Antonio Brown, a fun-loving wide receiver who’s almost as famous for his celebrations as he is his ability to burn defenders. They have Le’Veon Bell, an electric running back who displays patience and power, the consensus first pick for fantasy players everywhere. Then there’s Ben Roethlisberger, the long-term Steeler who has anchored the team at quarterback for over a decade. This is a team that knows how to put points on the board, thanks to their many attacking options. So why didn’t Pittsburgh Steelers reach the Super Bowl last season? Although the Steelers survived Bell’s four-game absence to go 4-1 at
the start of the season, injuries cooled Big Ben’s ability to torch defenses while the young defense experienced some growing pains. With the same squad returning older, wiser and refreshed from an off-season of rest, the big question mark actually centres on their franchise quarterback Roethlisberger. Unlike Tom Brady and Drew Brees, who seem to be immortal, Roethlisberger is showing his age. After 13 seasons of taking huge hits, his play has become somewhat inconsistent, and the Steelers need him firing on all cylinders to power their multi-headed attack. Roethlisberger is on the downswing of his career, but does he have enough left to fire the Steelers into the Super Bowl? With Bell and Brown providing back-up, it’s hard to bet against the Steelers.
“Although the Steelers survived Bell’s four-game absence to go 4-1 at the start of the season, injuries cooled Big Ben’s ability to torch defenses” 92 The NFL Book
Established 1933 Head coach Mike tomlin Division AFC north Rivals baltimore ravens 2016 record 11-5 2017 schedule 0.453 hh Honours hh Division 1972, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1983, 1984, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2014, 2016 Conference 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1995, 2005, 2008, 2010 League 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2005, 2008
STAR PLAYER Le’Veon Bell DOB: 18 February 1992 Pos: rUNNING BACK No. 26 The most exciting player in the league, no-one symbolises modern NFL like Le’Veon Bell does. A running back with great hands, Bell is almost without weakness. He’s patient enough to wait for gaps to open up in the defense, explosive enough to dart through them and can catch the ball, giving Roethlisberger an extra target downfield. Injuries and a drug suspension have robbed the Pittsburgh Steelers from enjoying a full season from Bell in recent years and the thought of him playing all 16 games should terrify the rest of the NFL. Despite missing the first four games last year through suspension, Bell managed 1,884 yards from scrimmage, the third highest all season.
Ke y personnel ANTONIO BROWN
Antonio Brown had a down year last season with 1,284 yards, which indicates just how good he is. A strong contender for the best wide receiver in the NFL, Brown is hitting his prime and will combine with Bell to give the Steelers a devastating passing attack that can chew up any NFL defense.
The veteran quarterback has been throwing bombs for the Steelers since 2004, winning the Super Bowl twice in that time. As age catches up with him, Roethlisberger’s play is becoming inconsistent, and he especially struggles playing away from Pittsburgh. Could this be a fatal flaw for Steelers’ hopes?
James Harrison is a Super Bowl champion twice over. Five-time Pro Bowl selection. NFL Defensive Player of the Year. James Harrison has done it all and the 39-yearold’s experience is crucial in leading the young Steeler’s defense, helping them to cut down on discipline issues and stamp out rookie errors.
The quarterback of the Pittsburgh defense, the young Ryan Shazier continues to grow and improve as a player. Last season he recorded 87 tackles and three interceptions, a one-man wrecking ball at the heart of the Steelers defence that saw him earn his first ever selection for the Pro Bowl.
Heinz Field Location Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Capacity 68,400 Heinz Field opened in 2001, after the closing of the Steelers’ classic old ground, the Three Rivers Stadium. It’s named after the locally based company of the same name. The Steelers sold out its entire capacity for every home game last season, demonstrating the fans’ rabid love for this long-standing franchise. And Heinz Field is one of the few grounds in the NFL to feature a natural grass surface, despite criticism from rival franchises about its inconsistency throughout the season. It’s a pretty stadium too, sitting on the banks of the Ohio river, making for some lovely long shots on TV broadcasts, and a unique form of transport to get there should you wish – the Gateway Clipper. The NFL Book 93
“Statistics aren’t just interesting morsels of information for fans to bring up during arguments; they’re an integral part of the way teams operate”
142 The NFL Book
Stats and records Outstanding achievements, record-breaking performances and legendary players, you’ll find them all in our NFL stats round-up
144. Team stats and records 150. Quarterback records 152. Rushing records 154. Receiving records 156. Defensive records 158. Special teams records 160. Super Bowl records
umbers – whether they’re yards, touchdowns, receptions or sacks – play a hugely important role in football. They’re the metrics by which players and teams are judged and compared, and they form the basis of the sport’s most incredible collective and individual achievements. It’s also a well-known fact that NFL fans are stats junkies. Coverage of football is increasingly geared towards delivering instantaneous information on the performances of teams, players and coaches, down to the very finest details. The incredible popularity of fantasy football is an emphatic testament to this. And statistics aren’t just interesting morsels of info for fans to bring up during arguments and debates; they’re an integral part of the way teams plan, monitor and adjust their tactics and strategies over the course of a season. Everything from players’ top speeds to the impact force of their hits is tracked, and the data helps inform some of the most technologically advanced coaching teams in the world. In this section, we’ll be breaking down some of the key stats and outstanding performers from the last NFL season. We’ll outline exactly who the most dominant quarterbacks were, which defenses were the most ruthless, and shine a spotlight on the special teams players who contributed the most to their sides. Not only that, but we’ve also taken a look back at some of the greatest football achievements of all time, and paid tribute to the players whose records still stand today. The NFL Book 143
Published on Jul 18, 2017