Sacrilege I know but during 2015's Rugby World Cup I fell in love with NFL football. A friend had alerted me to then new free-to-air TVNZ pop-up (Duke) channel that was showing live NFL (National Football League) games.
There were no free-to-air RWC games at that stage so in lieu of watching the All Blacks preliminary rounds I tuned into NFL - and I haven't looked back.
Previously the only thing I knew about American football was what I'd gleaned watching box sets of Friday Night Lights. I had a rough idea of what a quarterback did (and wasn't one of them married to Giselle?), but the other positions and the actual rules of the game (why are they stopping all the time?) remained a mystery.
Duke has long since stopped live NFL coverage but a love of the game was set and after watching much of that 2015 season I started to appreciate the art of the game.
Despite the seven officiating refs, a myriad of on-screen stats, flags, playbooks and in-helmet radios - boil it down and the game is a simple one - the ball-carrying team (the offence) get four chances to advance ten yards (just over nine metres).
The opposing team (the defence) has to stop them.
If the team with the ball doesn't get 10 yards in four attempts (or downs) they usually kick it as far as they can down field on the 4th down (think rugby league with helmets and forward passes).
If they do get the 10 it's first down again and the drive continues till they score a touchdown, get in range for a field goal, lose the ball or are stopped inside of the four by the defence.
Newbies note - each team is really two teams - an offence and a defence (let's not get into special teams just yet), which are sent on the field as required. Up to 46 players can dress out for a game and - unlike league or rugby - unlimited substitutions are allowed.
That said - only 11 players are allowed on the field at any one time - any more or less (between plays there's a constant shifting of personnel) and it's a penalty - signalled when a referee throws down a yellow flag onto the field. (Cooler than blowing a whistle, right?)
The head ref then explains the decision to the crowd and the yardage penalty imposed.
There are lots of other reasons for penalties (holding, pass interference, dangerous play), but it doesn't take too long to figure these out - Google them in the constant ad breaks which the NFL schedule in to the games).
That's partly why games last over three hours (Super Bowls a lot longer) although the official playing time is just four 15 minute quarters (if it's tied at the end they go into overtime). Actual on-field action can be less than 15 minutes, perfect for the age where double screening rules. Check your tweets between plays.
And no sport is better suited to TV than the NFL.
The game is a gladiatorial spectacle, beautiful and brutal - and Super Bowl LIV which sees the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers in Miami - is shaping up to be a cracker.
Super Bowl 54 - Chiefs vs 49ers
The Chiefs will start as favourites in this after their back-to-form quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the team to two incredible comeback victories in the playoffs.
They also have an offensive line that is nigh on unstoppable. Meanwhile the 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw just eight times in the championship game against Green Bay, coach Kyle Shanahan depending on the running game - which is impressive. They also have an incredible defensive line and you can never count out a team that went from 4-12 last season to playing in the Super Bowl; the trick for the 49ers is to keep Mahomes off the field.
These are the two best teams in the league (not always the case in Super Bowls) and this will be a fascinating battle. It's also a match up between two great coaches - the venerable Andy Reid and the aggressive, much younger Kyle Shanahan.
Expect an entertaining game with a lot of points.
My prediction - The Chiefs take it 31-20
- Touchdowns are worth 6, field goals 3, safeties (catching a defending player in their end-zone) 2. A touchdown conversion is worth 1.
- The essence of the game - a team gets four chances to get ten yards (just over 9-metres). The other team's job is to stop them.
- An NFL game consists of four 15-minute quarters. That said an NFL game - once ad breaks, half-time, timeouts and stoppages are taken into account runs more than three hours - the Super Bowl a lot longer.
- 11 players per team, but unlimited substitutions allowed and 46 players can dress out for a game.
- In the 19th century American Football began as a spin-off from rugby.
Super Bowl 54 kicks off at 12.30 pm NZ time on Monday Feb 3. In New Zealand the Super Bowl will stream on Spark Sport and is also live on ESPN.