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Two Nations Divided by a Common Language

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The playwright George Bernard Shaw once described Britain and the USA as two nations divided by a common language.

That is certainly the case when it comes to Football, the most popular sport in each country, although we are talking about two different games.

Whilst American Football – or gridiron – has some following in Europe – especially now that NFL games are being staged in London at the home of Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) and will shortly be coming to Germany as well,  it does not compare with what the Americans call soccer, and much of the rest of the world knows simply as football.

The Super Bowl brought the last NFL season to an end and fans will have to wait six months until the new campaign begin again.

But for the uninitiated European fan, this may be a handy time to explain some of the terminology used in gridiron

American Football: Starting with the obvious one. Gridiron has little to do with the use of the foot. Indeed, the only players who ever kick the ball are the field goal kickers who come on to try and kick the extra point or punt away returns.

In fact, most players in an NFL team never even touch the ball during a game and would not even know what to do with it if they did. Anybody in a soccer game that did not get involved with the play would soon find themselves dropped.

Down: In soccer, down is how a striker feels after he has missed a chance or a defender ahs conceded a penalty. In American Football it signifies ta period of action when the ball is put into play and ends when the ball is ruled dead.

Drive: Drive is what soccer fans expect from their box to box midfielders and overlapping full-backs, whereas in NFL parlance  it is a series of plays when the offense has the ball.

Flags: When an offence is committed in American Football side-line officials throw flags on to the pitch. Soccer officials – assistant referees – are expected to hold on to their flags at all times!

Flea Flicker: This is not something designed to keep pests off pet dogs but a trick play in American football.

Hail Mary: A Hail Mary pass is a very long pass in American football with a very little chance of success, often resorted to as a desperation measure. The equivalent in soccer is sending a goal keeper up for a corner in search of a last minute equaliser.

Running Back: All backs are expected to run in soccer, but in American Football it is the player expected to carry the ball when a team decides t run and not pass the ball.

Sack: The sack is what a Premier League manager can expect when results do not go his way, whereas in American Football it is when the quarterback gets tackled behind the line of scrimmage.

Special Teams: Special teams in soccer are sides that go on to do something spectacular, like the Manchester United side that won the treble in 1999 or the Arsenal squad that went through an entire league season unbeaten. In American football it just means the players who take to the field during kicks and punts.

Tight End: This is not somebody suffering from constipation but an offensive position in American Football!

Bonus: Betway’s video with Tottenham Hotspur players Lucas Moura, Sergio Reguilon, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Ben Davies on how much they know about NFL.

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