The 2022 season of football starts this Thursday with the first game of the NFL between the Los Angeles Rams and the Buffalo Bills, the last champion and one of the top candidates to win the Super Bowl this year (9:00 p.m. on ESPN Extra and Star+). Things that only happen in North America: while much of the planet is waiting for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, in the United States they only talk about football. Thus, without accent.
It is not one more season that begins this weekend. The time that passed from the end of February to this premiere in September was marked by controversies, scandals and tragedies, such as the death of dwayne haskinsyoung quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelersrun over on a highway by a garbage truck, or Jaylon Fergusonof the Baltimore Ravensdue to an overdose of fentanyl and cocaine. Jeff Gladneycorner of the Arizona Cardinals, also lost his life at the age of 25 in a traffic accident. They are only three cases of an unfortunate list to which former stars of this sport are added.
This 2022 edition of the most popular sport in the United States will also mark the “return” of Tom Bradythe best and winningest player of all time, who announced his retirement in early 2022 and then backtrackedobsessed with the conquest of his eighth ring, the second in front of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Dwayne Haskins dreamed of inheriting Ben Roethlisberger’s job after his retirement, but the young quarterback died in an unusual way, hit by a car on a highway. Photo: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar.
Brady’s alleged retirement, announced shortly after the Bucs fell to the Rams in the playoffs, lasted a few weeks and Tampa welcomed its star player with open arms, the image of a franchise that was revitalized since his arrival, in 2020.
“Tom is throwing better than I’ve ever seen him,” said Bruce Arians, who was his coach two years ago when they became champions and is now an assistant for the Florida team.
At 45, and about to begin his 23rd NFL season, Brady warned that his sacred fire “still burns.” “I have a lot to prove this year,” said the superstar, insisting, “I’m here to prove that I’m still capable of leading a team to a championship.”
Tom Brady announced in January that he was retiring but went back and will play the 2022 season. Photo: AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio.
In a season in which the Rams will try to become the first team in 18 years to sign a two-time championship, the Bucs put all their chips on their leader. “Tom is Tom,” rookie running back Rachaad White said. “He is our leader. He is everything we want. He is our captain. He is iconic.”
A tough few months for the NFL
But beyond Brady and the defending champions, the controversy sets the pace once again at the start of the league.
The scandal is still alive and splashes among others to the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns, Deshaun Watson. The player was suspended amid allegations of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior during massage sessions.
Watson, who missed the entire 2021 season amid the allegations while with the Houston Texans, did not face criminal charges. and landed a five-year, $230 million deal with the Browns.
Deshaun Watson resolved his judicial situation with money and will play in the NFL again after serving a sanction. Photo: Nick Cammett/Getty Images/AFP.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills tried to dodge controversy when they tossed out rookie kicker Matt Araiza two days after a civil lawsuit was filed alleging he was among a trio of San Diego State University players who raped a 17-year-old girl. Accusations that the “kicker” denies.
The immensely popular and oftentimes center of controversy, the NFL also enters the season facing a lawsuit from three African-American coaches, led by former Los Angeles Dodgers head coach Miami DolphinsBrian Flores, alleging racism in the league’s hiring practices.
The candidates for the Superbowl
The Rams start Thursday against a Bills team widely touted as a Super Bowl contender.
Perhaps the biggest question mark for the Rams in their bid to repeat is their quarterback’s physique, Matthew Stafford, who played through pain last season but was able to handle the pressure of reaching the grand final, which was scheduled at his stadium and where he ended up crowned champion. In the preview of the upcoming show, Stafford declared himself “ready to play” and without limitations.
Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald, architects of the consecration of the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl played in February. Photo: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez.
The Bills, meanwhile, lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game two years ago and again last season but in overtime of the second round of the playoffs. Losses that served for quarterback Josh Allen to strengthen the determination of the Bills.
Allen said the arrival of new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey means the Bills’ offense will be even better this year. They expect the changes to take them to Super Bowl 57 in Phoenix, Arizona, on February 12.
Joe Burrow led the Cincinnati Bengals to the grand finale and was on the brink of glory. He will seek revenge this year. Photo: Frederic J. BROWN / AFP.
In addition to Rams, Bucs and Bills, the other logical names to win the “super bowl” are the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs and the runners-up Cincinnati Bengals, among others. And there is a “covered” that appears in the table of preferences for bets: Los Angeles Chargersled by the young Justin Herbert, the quarterback who in his third season in the elite seeks to continue his upward curve.
It is clear: there are plenty of candidates to win the great title of champion. There is one of the great strengths of the NFL, the enormous parity between almost all the 32 teams that play in the league.
How to watch the games on TV
The NFL schedules its games each week in its usual format, with one game on Thursday, the entire day on Sunday from late afternoon to prime time, and one final game on Monday. The transmissions of the matches are in charge of ESPN and Star +, in addition to the special program red zonewhich on Sundays from 2:00 p.m. to midnight goes from stadium to stadium, showing in real time the most decisive plays of each match.
An NFL with open borders
The season will also feature five international games, including Brady and the Bucs against the Seattle Seahawks. in Munichon November 13, the first game of the regular season in Germany.
The city of Mexico it will also host a game: the Arizona Cardinals against the San Francisco 49ers at the Azteca stadium on November 21. While there will be three games in London including Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers taking on the New York Giants in October.
Aaron Rodgers and the pressure of being champion again with the Green Bay Packers. His team will play in Germany, the first time for the NFL in that country.
Rodgers, who earned a four-year, $200 million extension in GB, earned his second consecutive NFL MVP award last season, the fourth of his career, but such an investment hasn’t paid off: the Packers have retired early. in the playoffs in the last two years.
This Thursday begins a new dream for all of them.
The last 10 champions
2022: Los Angeles Rams
2021: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2020: Kansas City Chiefs
2019: New England Patriots
2018: Philadelphia Eagles
2017: New England Patriots
2016: Denver Broncos
2015: New England Patriots
2014: Seattle Seahawks
2013: Baltimore Ravens
The most successful teams in history
Pittsburgh Steelers y New England Patriots, 6.
San Francisco 49ers y Dallas Cowboys, 5.
Green Bay Packers y New York Giants, 4.
With information from Agencies