I’ve been mulling this entry for a quite a while. How do I come out and say this to my friends? What will people think of me? But, this feels like the right time to come clean.
I am done with the football I have always known. I am now a 100% full-time fan of the beautiful game.
It started as an experiment this summer. I watched the USA team play in this summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup. I had a great time watching the games, and it made me think now was the time to give soccer a real fair shake. I decided I would watch the English Premier League. It helped having the Fox Soccer Channel, and the ability to watch several games each week. I also watched Sky Sports News, the ESPN of English sports. I was hooked. Quickly. And surprised. I honestly never expected this.
So what do I like about soccer/football?
- The skill in the EPL (English Premier League) is fantastic. Even as a total novice, I could tell this was the big time.
- The fans are awesome, singing and going nuts when a goal is scored.
- There are no commercials during the game. You can sit down and actually watch the game, not 500 ads.
- Stars. There are big-time stars in the game.
- Incredible teamwork.
What drove me from American football?
- Too many commercials, sideline interviews, and ban announcers.
- Injuries. Football is a game whose end is in sight. It’s Concussion City.
- Boring players. When Peyton Manning is the face of the league, I am out.
- I don’t like the salary cap, free agency, contract setup. Teams change too much.
- I just don’t care about anything other than Fantasy football, and I won 2 leagues watching zero games.
While I haven’t picked a team just yet — I’m sure this is against some law of football — I’ll get there. I like Chelsea, Manchester United, Aston Villa, and Arsenal. I don’t like Manchester City, Tottenham, or Liverpool simply because Tom Hicks is the owner. Hicks screwed up baseball in Dallas with the signing of A-Fraud; I’m sure he’s doing the same to Liverpool.
The thing I like best about English football is relegation. The bottom three teams are sent packing to a lower league. How great would it be to get rid of the Raiders or the Clippers? You can smell the desperation halfway through the season, as teams are playing for their lives. It is a great game with great athletes and extraordinary skill. If Didier Drogba played American football or basketball, he would be great. Wayne Rooney may not look like much, but I can certainly see him running an NBA team Scott Skiles style.
I read an article recently and learned the UEFA Champions League final had more viewers than the Super Bowl. The game doesn’t suck at this level.
If you haven’t given football a chance, make me a deal. ESPN broadcasts weekly EPL games on Saturday mornings. Watch a couple of games in their entirety. If you are like me, you will see the difference between this and the MLS very quickly. It is like watching Lakers vs. Celtics followed by an NBDL game. There’s no contest. Give it a try, and you just might be ready for the World Cup later this year.