The NFL and the Premier League. Football and Football. The pigskin-throwing-one and the Sondico-booting one. This is a long-standing relationship. A ‘Special Relationship’, that has, away from the field, at least in recent, err, turbulent times, become fractured.
So, let’s go ahead and build some bridges with the good ol’ US of A by comparing all 20 of our football teams with theirs. Diplomacy, baybee. It’s my calling.
To help with my diplomatic push, I’ve enlisted the help of David James, avowed Miami Dolphins fan, apparently, and asked him to look as juiced as Barry Bonds circa 2004. Thankfully, he obliged. With DJ by my side, nothing can go wrong.
Anyway, just FYI, some picks will be based on years of similar history, others will be grounded in the roots of the present and some will just be downright whimsical. Let’s go eat some W’s.
NFL Equivalent: Los Angeles Chargers
Tiny stadium sort of by the beach? Sponsored by Healthcare or Health insurance companies?
You’ve got yourself either the Vitality or Dignity Health Sports Park, and you’ve got yourself the Cherries and the Chargers.
NFL Equivalent: Chicago Bears
Two good, if tortured in recent times, teams with one glaring, gaudy, garish, gaping, great fat whole.
For Arsenal, it’s the defence, obviously, in particular Shkodran ‘I Must Dive In Anywhere on the Field Regardless of the Consequences’ Mustafi. For the Bears, it’s quarterback Mitch ‘Mr Biscuit’ Trubisky. Imagine being both a designated leader of men and nicknamed Mr Biscuit.
It’s a death wish.
NFL Equivalent: Seattle Seahawks
I’ll admit, there’s very little sporting evidence to support this, save for perhaps the scrapping similarities of Jack Grealish and Russel ‘Hustle and Bustle’ Wilson.
It’s more of a vibe thing. Both Birmingham and Seattle are a bit rainy, and both have historically good tv shows – in ‘Peaky Blinders’ and ‘Frasier’ – to perk their citizens up. You know, that kind of vibe.
NFL Equivalent: Arizona Cardinals
Both of these teams have placed their faith in high-potential, untested, high-risk prospects, and they are Graham Potter (Geography teacher-looking tactician) and Kyler Murray (22-year-old QB stud who had his pick of both professional football and baseball in college).
So yeah, they’re exactly the same. I mean, Brighton’s most potent attacker is called Murray, FFS (editor’s note: it’s actually Shane Duffy, the greatest footballer of all time).
NFL Equivalent: Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore and Burnley. Maryland and Lancashire. ‘The Wire’ and, err, a Sarah Lancashire show?
Anyway, there’s more than just location that puts these two peas in a pod. Both have their league’s greatest attacking entertainer, the most overbearing offensive overlord thus far this season.
That would be Lamar Jackson and Ashley Barnes, obviously.
NFL Equivalent: Pittsburgh Steelers
Two of the most successful teams of their lands losing their greatest (or two) players in the off-season, countering those losses with youthful hope and then starting off the season with drastic drubbings from rivals.
See Chelsea. See the Steelers.
NFL Equivalent: Oakland Raiders
Wide players who don’t/didn’t want to be there and old coaches. That’s it, that’s the tweet.
NFL Equivalent: Houston Texans
Outshone by their doted on local rivals, these two sides perennially promise a lot, and then perennially a) come seventh or b) lose in the wild card round.
NFL Equivalent: Philadelphia Eagles
Two teams who realised an unlikely, unprecedented and wondrous dream in the last few years, and haven’t stopped talking about it since.
And yet, despite their against-the-odds triumphs, it hasn’t blunted their fighting spirit on the field, as they remain dark horse contenders to this day.
NFL Equivalent: New England Patriots
Hold your horses, Reds. Let’s be clear, you are not the New England Patriots of the Premier League this century. You have not dominated the league for nigh-on 20 years – far, far from it.
What you have, though, is an irrepressibly irritating fanbase, an ‘It Means More’ mentality and yeah, fine, some recent successes. That is what you share with the Patriots. To be honest, you’re far more Red Soxes than you are Patriots (John Henry, Fenway etc), but it’s not my fault the MLB isn’t marketable enough for an article like this, so Brady and Belichick it is.
NFL Equivalent: Los Angeles Rams
A difficult one, I won’t lie. There’s no real comparison point for Man City in the NFL, considering the counter-culturally socialist policies of the league. Their recent domination may be more in tune with the Patriots, but the models with which the two have achieved their success couldn’t be more disparate.
So, yeah, the Rams. The new lads on the block, ready to take Los Angeles by, err, tepid applause. To be fair, in Sean McVay, they do have the Pep Guardiola of the forthcoming generation, so it’s not all forced. May their coaching trees be tall and wide for the rest of eternity.
NFL Equivalent: Dallas Cowboys
*Inserts spiderman meme* Christ, these two are identical twins. The bonafide team of their country, with historical success coming out of their ears, they’ve been thwarted in recent times by a geriatric board and insufficient coaching.
Oh, and for context, the above player is Jason Witten who, after a year of dour punditry following his retirement, has returned to the team for this season. Yes, it’s exactly like if Paul Scholes cowed to United fans’ pleas and returned to the side.
NFL Equivalent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ageing coaches called ‘Bruce’ coming into ‘resurrect’ the team? A history of woulda, shoulda, coulda? Players who’ve been given chances they don’t deserve (Jonjo Shelvey and Jameis Winston)? Less than desirable owners (Mike Ashley and, yeah, the Glazers)?
That sounds about right.
NFL Equivalent: Green Bay Packers
Forget glory, forget trophies, this is about two arguably more important things.
Firstly, kits – who doesn’t love a bit of yellow and green, AMIRITE?
Secondly, to paraphrase the great(?) Swae Lee, I can confirm that Teemu Pukki and Aaron Rodgers are in fact the same thing.
NFL Equivalent: Miami Dolphins
These two are tactical innovators. One deploys centre backs in attack, because why the hell not, and the other, well, the other is intentionally sh*te. Intentionally sh*te, that is, in order to get better players. That’s how it works over the pond.
Yeah, that’s right, Double David James. You know you love it.
NFL Equivalent: New Orleans Saints
It’s Saints Corner! Oh When the Saints! I mean, sure, if you were going off history, relevance, greatness and all that, Ralph Hassenhuttl and co. would be closer to the ignominy of, I don’t know, the Detroit Lions.
But here. Have Drew Brees and the food behemoth of New Orleans, lads. Just a little something from me to you. Enjoy.
NFL Equivalent: Minnesota Vikings
Tortured bottlers. Next?
NFL Equivalent: Atlanta Falcons
The Hornets (via a Moose, for some reason) and the Falcons. They both fly, right? But also, terrible – albeit contrasting – losses in a recent final that they clearly haven’t got over etc etc.
West Ham United
NFL Equivalent: New York Jets
Something something bad team something something periphery something big city. Claim to have a storied history and a defined ‘way’. In reality, they’re just consistently lost/last.
To be fair, at least the Jets have actually won a league title.
NFL Equivalent: Cleveland Browns
Deprived of success throughout their history and befit with an ugly, orangey colour scheme, these two sides are reinventing themselves, looking to upend their previous reputation and forge a new path.
Yes, their youthful naivety and shallow squad depth can still show up now and again, but the only way is up. Probably.