Tonight, when the match between the Argentine National Team and Bolivia for the South American Qualifiers is being played at the Monumental, in the United States and much of the world the attention will be on the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, with the start of the 2022 NFL season and the initial kick off that the Dallas Cowboys will give in their visit to the 2020 champions, Tom Brady’s Buccaneers.
It won’t be another year for the most popular sport in North America. The coronavirus affected last season from start to finish, not only due to the lack of public in the stadiums (only at the end was a reduced capacity authorized) but also because of the way in which the covid-19 altered the almanac and caused last-minute casualties. moment in many franchises. In addition, a good number of players chose not to play due to the fear of getting infected or not to submit to the strict sanitary protocol that included wristbands with GPS tracking and fines above $ 100,000.
Even though the Delta variant is wreaking havoc on American soil, the NFL is aiming to put the coronavirus behind in this season reboot. The 32 teams have already announced that they will have one hundred percent availability of their seats and the controversy of the last weeks had to do with those athletes who do not want to receive the vaccine against covid-19.
In that sense, the union that represents them banned that position and the reaction of the league was to determine that non-inoculated athletes receive “special treatment” and are obliged to comply with the protocols in force last season: use of masks, quarantines, constant swabs and more. Cole Beasley of the Buffalo Bulls questioned the measure and spoke of discrimination.
Cam Newton had a poor season with the Patriots and they cut him a few days before the start of the season. He is one of those who chose not to get vaccinated. Photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.
This conflict generated internal risks in some teams. The quarterback Cam Newton, elected MVP in 2015, was unexpectedly cut by the New England Patriots and it is speculated that his decision not to get vaccinated influenced the decision of Bill Belichik, the veteran coach, of the most winners in history.
Others, like the Bills catcher, Isaiah McKenzie, they chose to give in and get vaccinated “for the common good”, as he clarified on his social networks. The data is encouraging: it is estimated that more than 90 percent of the players have already received at least one dose of the vaccine. But the risk exists.
Patrick Mahomes, present in the last two Superbowls, with mixed luck, is a serious candidate to celebrate in February. Photo: Jamie Squire / Getty Images / AFP.
Players are not required to be vaccinated but yes many of the fans who want to come to see them. In cities with stricter laws on the management of the pandemic, a vaccination certificate or PCR tests with a negative result will be required.
“We will do everything possible to make sure our fans are safe in the stadiums. They want to come back, that’s what we hear most often. We can see it at ticket sales, they want to be part of that collective experience“, expressed with optimism the commissioner of the league, Roger goodell, on NFL Network.
With 15 years in charge of the most powerful sports league in the world, Goodell has just closed a juicy contract with TV that begins in 2023: $ 110 billion for 10 years, adding to Amazon in the distribution of transmissions. The “Hammer”, as they call it, closed that bizarre figure in the middle of the pandemic and doubling the figure they received until now. Nothing bad.
Starts the game
One of the charms that American football has is the competitiveness that dominates the NFL, which this year will feature the novelty of 18 dates (weeks or weeks) in the regular season, one more game of the 17 that had been played since 1978. The salary cap and the draft feed that parity, so good financial engineering or the ingenuity of a good manager with a medium and long-term look are more important than the arm of a superstar.
All this was demonstrated last season. The immense Tom Brady left his comfort zone of the New England Patriots, where he had won six Superbowl rings, to join the ailing Tampa Bay.
February 2021. Tom Brady holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy, his eighth NFL title, this time with Tampa Bay. Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.
At 43, the husband of Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen put aside a few million in his annual salary to surround himself with good players capable of catching his passes. and protect it from rival defenses. To the surprise of many who considered him in “retirement” plan, Brady ended up crowning champion once again, demonstrating why he is one of the greatest athletes in history.
Tonight, TB12 is back on the court to kick off his 20th NFL season, and the Tampa are candidates to repeat ring since they managed to keep all their figures.
In front of them will be the Dallas Cowboys, “America’s team”, named for its popularity, which will feature the return of the quarterback. Dak prescott, who suffered a serious injury just beginning last season. The game will be seen on Star +, ESPN3 and ESPN Extra from 9:00 p.m.. A while before, the singer Ed Sheeran will give a show to give him the opening party framework according to the taste of American football fans, those who wait for this day as if it were the start of an Olympic Game or a World Cup.
The candidates, “the” rookie and a Chilean
At the National conference, alongside Tampa, the Green Bay Packers of the historic Aaron Rodgers (who threatened to leave and stay one more year in the franchise), along with the Rams, the 49ers, the Seahawks or the Chargers, promise to win a place in the Superbowl LVI, which will be played on February 13 at the imposing Stadium SoFi of Los Angeles, launched a year ago and at a cost of 5 billion dollars.
Green Bay Packers leader Aaron Rodgers came close to leaving the team where he was champion in 2010. Photo: AP Photo / Jeffrey Phelps, File.
In the American conference, the fight promises to be tougher, with the Kansas City Chiefs of Patrik mahomes (champions in 2019 and finalists in 2020), the Buffalo Bills, the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns, in a very close fight to which several weight contenders can be added.
But outside of the title candidates, all eyes will be on the rookie quarterback as well. Trevor lawrence, the new darling of the NFL, chosen in the 1st place in the Draft by the Jacksonville, a team with few aspirations but that works for the future polishing the star who will have the mission of leading them in a few years.
And in South America the attention will also be placed on the performance of Sammis reyes, a Chilean who played college basketball in the United States, a Ginobili fan and who represented his country at the national team level, until he accepted the advice of his coaches and was encouraged to try American football. He did a test and the Washington Football Team gave him the “ok” by offering him an important contract and adding him to their roster as a “tight end”, a position that will have him as a constant protagonist.
To follow him on TV
All NFL Week 1 games will go live on Star + as the main stream. In addition, Thursday’s can be followed by ESPN3 and ESPN Extra, and both Sunday and Monday will be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN Extra.
21:00. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas cowboys. TV: Star + / ESPN3 / ESPN Extra.
14:00. NFL Red Zone (Follow all matches simultaneously). TV: Star + / ESPN Extra.
21:00. Los Angeles Rams vs. Chicago Bears. TV: ESPN2 / ESPN Extra.
21:00. Las vegas raiders vs. Baltimore Ravens. TV: Star + / ESPN2 / ESPN Extra