It’s arguably the biggest day on the global sporting calendar.
After a five-month journey headlined by the savage effects of the COVID-19 pandemic the NFL season has finally reached it’s crescendo with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs taking on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in SuperBowl LV.
In what is set to be a battle of perhaps the two greatest quarter back talents to grace the National Football League, global interest in the sport is at an all time high with millions of eyes across the world eyes set to be glued to their television screens.
This boom in global popularity has seen the game grow significantly in the Australian market with a 35 per cent increase in viewership on Channel 7’s coverage of the big game last year indicating the sport’s meteoric rise among local sport fans.
Speaking with The Inner Sanctum, the NFL’s first ever Australian player Colin Scotts attributes this spike in popularity to the influx of talented local athletes who, with the help of AFL backgrounds, are making a mark in one of the game’s most unique positions.
“The number one factor [to the rise of the league’s popularity in Australia] you’ve got to look at is the punting and kicking,” Scotts told The Inner Sanctum.
“We’ve got seven Aussies over there at the moment punting in the NFL and a whole heap of others in college on scholarships which I can proudly say I helped get a few across to the University of Hawaii.
“It’s just a natural no brainer [for NFL teams], they don’t teach punting over in America so for us AFL players who have been training since the age of five they’ve just gone over there and thrived with their kicking skills.
“I can see punters taking over the NFL in the next ten years and you’ll probably see every team wanting an Aussie punting.”
With more and more local athletes taking their talents to the self proclaimed “land of opportunity”, broadcasters have taken the necessary steps to make the game more accessible to Australian viewers with a greater amount of matches being televised each year.
Scotts says this increased access has had a significant impact on this recent boom in popularity with sports fans around the country glued to the action.
“It has had an unbelievable impact,” he said.
“I’ve got so many mates, from doctors to ex athletes to just kids now, who love the game and get to watch it when they want to watch it so thank you ESPN, thank you Kayo.
“When I was growing up we didn’t have any of this, people didn’t even know what American Football was and neither did I, I had never seen a game until I got over there.
“Now with this exposure, people like my son are able to watch it with his mates and can watch the game on their command, so times have changed with people getting educated very young on the sport because of this exposure.
“I think it’s only going to grow from here which is very exciting.”
As fans get their Super Bowl parties set up for Monday morning, debate will engulf workplaces, universities and schools across the nation as to whether the youth and exuberance of Mahomes or experience and greatness of Brady will prevail.
Scotts is confident the expert skill and poise of the six time champion quarterback and the stringent nature of their league leading defence will have the Buccaneers poised nicely to pull off an upset.
“For Tampa Bay, Brady firstly needs to make the third down throws,” he said.
“For that to happen he needs to be helped by his running back Leonard Fournette who has to get three, four or five yards on the first and second down plays.
“Quite simply on the offensive side for Tampa Bay to win they have to run the ball first and get yardage and then Brady needs to continually hit those third downs.
“On defence, Tampa has the number one unit in the NFL and defences do win Super Bowls, so they just need to keep doing what they are doing and contain Mahomes, he is a freak athlete as we all know so they just need to put pressure on him.”
As for the reigning champion Chiefs, Scotts believes the firepower of their Mahomes led offence will be critical to their chances of going back to back.
“For Kansas City to win it’s quite simple, they have two of perhaps the greatest athletes to play in the NFL in Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill, who is only five foot tall but is just the fastest guy in the league it’s amazing nobody can keep up with him,” he said.
“As well as Tight End Travis Kelce who in my mind is like a receiver and is breaking all the records with his ability to catch the ball and could become the greatest player to ever play the position, the guy is absolutely off the charts,
“They have also got to get to Brady and pressure him and play great defence, allowing Mahomes to do his thing, you can’t predict what he is going to do that is what is so hard for opposition teams trying to stop him, he just has amazing X-Factor.”
With a plethora of storylines littered across both teams it is safe to say Super Bowl 55 will be must see television as the National Football League crowns a champion more than worthy of the title.
For people around the world who do not follow the sport and are thinking of tuning into the landmark event, Scotts says it will be a decision they certainly will not regret.
“What I’d be telling someone watching the NFL for the first time would be just watch the the size of the guys, watch the collisions, watch the quarterbacks and how smart they are, and just keep it simple,” he said.
“You have four opportunities to move the ball ten yards, you punt and kick the ball, there’s a lot of Rugby League in the way the game operates.
“Just enjoy that it is effectively a game of armoured chess, just appreciate that every play is so scientifically designed so watch the coaching and how the players go about it.
“At the end of the day enjoy what the show is, nobody puts a show on like America so enjoy the spectacle and try and appreciate that you are looking at the biggest, fastest, strongest and most intelligent athletes in the world.”
- Super Bowl LV – Kansas City Chiefs v Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Monday, February 8)
- LIVE pre-game coverage starting with a pre-show from 9.00am AEDT, and kick off at 10.00am
- Watch Super Bowl LV Live on ESPN, channel available to watch on Foxtel and stream on Kayo