The NFL and Game of Thrones: A Song of Green and White

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The art of story telling is one of the greatest aspects of humanity. Some have the uncanny ability to spin intricate tales that absorb the audience and create catharsis. George R.R. Martin is one such rare individual and his Song of Ice and Fire series has enchanted millions. HBO’s adaptation of the series, Game of Thrones, brought Martin’s visions to life and created a massive cult following. The popular show has turned many of us into drooling, nerd-slaves to Martin and HBO’s genius.

What on earth does this have to do with football you may ask? Little and less. Yet, the NFL and it’s dramatic matchups, ever evolving rivalries, and team defections create a literary piece all it’s own. The inner workings of the NFL can be told as a story complete with plot twists and cliffhangers, antagonists and protagonists. With that in mind, we at Turn on the Jets, would like to unite the oft overlapping fan bases of the NFL and G of T by drawing parallels between the National Football League and the world of Westeros.

Disclaimers:

  • I will not give anything away that the show has not yet covered
  • Your views on these parallels may depend on your allegiances in both the Game of Thrones and Football spheres
  • I have included links to character bios for those who are not as big of a fanboy as me; I know many understand the series like this.
  • Feel free to add your own comparisons in the comments! NO SPOILERS.

Lets start with and easy one that we can all agree on:

Bill Belichick/Tywin Lannister: Both men are masterminds in their own right. They rule quietly but with an iron fist and demand respect. They took their family/team from a shroud of embarrassment to prolonged success at the top of their respective hierarchies. We don’t like either man but respect their brilliance at the games they play (football and the game of thrones). They both use frowned upon tactics (ie: Spy-Gate and the Red Wedding).

I suppose this first comparison means…

Tom Brady/Jamie Lannister: Look, this is more a symptom of Belichick being Tywin but the hair and lady-killing are pretty uncanny similarities. Both are masters of their art, football and swordplay respectively. Yet, most fans sympathize with Jamie and even come to like him. The day I sympathize with Brady, you can just go ahead and cut my hand off. (See what I did there?)

TIm Tebow/King Joffrey: We never really liked either from the get go. Our taste for both only soured as we got to know them better. Both have a sick and twisted way of messing with our hearts and their followers. Now that Tebow is a Patriot, isn’t it oh so perfect that he parallels a man we’re supposed to hate? Best of all, this comparison lets Jets fans blame all their woes on Tebow, just like the Seven Kingdoms can do with Joff.

Wes Welker/Tyrion Lannister: I know I know, we all LOVE Tyrion and Welker is the bane of every fan’s existence. Yet, like Tyrion’s slow defection from the Lannisters, we saw a deterioration of the relationship between Wes and his sire, Belicheck -Insert obvious short joke here-

How about everyone’s favorite Stark family?

Baltimore Ravens/Starks: The Starks are always right eventually and winter finally came for both with the massive exodus of the Ravens 2012 Superbowl team and the continuing deaths in the Stark family.

Ray Lewis/Ned Stark: They both had extended success at their position but were taken from us rather abruptly. Ned lost his head and Ray rode off into retirement. Both men were the example for their peers, players and lords. Both acted under a strict standard of honor/level of play and did not deviate. Ray’s retirement and Ned’s death served to spark the deterioration of their team/family.

Ed Reed/Theon Greyjoy: Both men started as the ultimate team player but saw a better opportunity and moved on. Wouldn’t it be fitting if Houston unseated the Ravens in the playoffs like Theon did to Winterfell and the Starks? (EXTRA: Darrelle Revis/Theon: Both committed high treason. As Tyrion said, Mr. Revis, “I’m not doubting your honor. I’m denying its existence.”)

Ray Rice/Robb Stark: They are super talented and beloved by northern lords and Ravens fans alike. Both bring glory to their team/family but are not able to get the job done alone. Not to mention Rice might soon experience his own Red Wedding of sorts with the rise of Bernard Pierce (does that make Pierce the Freys?)

Joe Flacco/Jon Snow: The classic hero, BORING. Both are embattled by their peers who expect nothing of them. Yet, when they get their chance, both men show their worth. They are both stoic under pressure. But come on, this classic hero journey could use a twist.

The family ties are getting tough so lets deviate:

Reshard Mendenhall/Bran Stark: They are perennially injured and incapacitated. Both have a chance for a rejuvenation with a bird (the Arizona Cardinals and the 3-Eyed Crow)

Tom Coughlin/Stannis Baratheon: Both are very hard to like. They are stern, disciplined, and inspire loyalty in their men. Plus, they both do the constipated look pretty well.

Dan Snyder/Petyr ‘Littlefinger” Baelish: Both men are wheelers and dealers when it comes to the financial side of the game of football/thrones. They are high rollers who put big money on risky moves in hopes of progressing the game and improving their position. Plus, Little Finger loves trolling the power players of Westeros and wasn’t the Albert Haynesworth contract the ultimate football troll?

Nick Mangold/Tormund Giant’s-Bane: This is a shout out to Joe. Both men are stabilizers of ever erratic and unorganized forces, the Jets offense and the Wildling Army respectively. Both of them inspire confidence in their peers and keep it light with an uproarious sense of humor. BONUS: Both have killer beards.

Steve Sabol/Old Nan: Both tell stories. Pour one out for the homies.

Hayden Smith/Melisandre: Both are from the far reaches of the world, Australia and the Assahi-by-the-Shadow to be exact. We’re not quite sure what either offers to their respective causes but they tantalize us with their athletic potential and sorcery all the same. I’m sure Smith isn’t dropping horrifying shadow deuces however. 

Shonn Greene/Hodor: Both are slow, lumbering and only know how to do one thing: say Hodor or run for 2.5 yards straight up the gut.

Rex Ryan/Daenerys Targaryen: This is just for Jets fans but who wouldn’t love to see Rex eventually bring the Jets back to relevance like Dany is destined to do for the nearly exterminated Targaryens. Like Rex, Dany may be the face of a long rebuilding franchise. Plus, they have the same sex appeal. Obviously.

Curtis Martin/Arya Stark: You’ll always be my hero baby girl.

  • kilbasar

    Nice try, I like the idea, but nearly everything besides Belechik/Tywin and Brady/Jaime… no. Let’s try this again:

    Tebow: Waaay too much of a goody-two-shoes to be Joffrey, the sadistic monster. I’d say he’s Margaery: no skill in battle, but has legions of supporters because he has a connection to the common man. Also managed to engage himself to a powerful house.

    Rex: This is Tyrion. A shrewd mind for tactics, he is nonetheless treated like a jester by his peers because of his looks and sexual habits

    Goodell: Here we have Joffrey. The ruler of the kingdom, he hands out unfair punishment to those who don’t follow his every whim.

    Jim Harbaugh: Daenerys. Lives on the other side of the world, is finally rebuilding a once-powerful house that fell on hard times. Fans love him.

    Geno Smith: Jon Snow. Although he’s pretty new to the North, he’s already assumed a great burden of saving the kingdom from its threats, while others squabble around him. Seems like he could be a heroic savior, but he still knows nothing.

  • KAsh

    If these comparisons are accurate, won’t half of these guys not last the year?

  • MattyT

    Do you know that the man himself, George RR Martin is a huge Jets fan? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/25/george-rr-martin-jets-fan-revis-trade_n_3143691.html
    There are some spoilers in that piece.

  • kilbasar

    Yeah, GRRM is both a Jets and Giants fan (he grew up in NJ). I don’t agree with his utter disgust at the Revis trade, but at least he’s passionate.

    You guys should try to get him on the podcast!

    http://grrm.livejournal.com/tag/nfl

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  • MattyT

    Yeah I’m with ya, I think the man was a bit over the top with his criticism of the Revis deal. I was against it in the beginning too, but it had to be done. I like his passion. I don’t like sharing him with Giants fans. ugh.

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  • twoshady

    i’ve never had a problem with the Giants. I grew up watching them because my Dad was a big fan. But wanting to distinguish myself from him I began watching the other NY team. The Giants are an NFC team so logistically they aren’t a threat to the season and when the Jets would miss the playoffs… I need another team to root for.

  • Angel

    I never understood Giants hating the Jets and vice-versa. Makes no sense to me.

    I like both but definitely favor the Jets. I would never root against the Giants. I have a lot of respect for that franchise. Which is funny, cause as much as I respect Belichick as a coach [cheating aside] and Brady and even Robert Kraft, I F-ing HATE the PATRIOTS and there fans especially!!

    Bill Belichick/Tywin Lannister = Right on the money!

  • MattyT

    I can’t root for the Giants because of alot of friends and family are Giant fans, and they all are constantly bashing the Jets, it is more of a defensive thing I think. Especially with my best friend. He is a massive Giants fan. So I relish their losses because when the Jets are buttfumbling away he is the first to point it out and laugh in my face. When the Giants and Pats played each other a couple of years ago, I had a really hard time deciding who I wanted to see lose more.

    But to say something on topic. Shonn Greene is Hodor….. Hodor. Hodor. Hodor.

    If Rex doesn’t make it to the end of this season he will definitely be more of a Renly Baratheon, and Mark Sanchez will be his sir Loris. I think he will though. I got faith in the man.

  • kilbasar

    I too have no problem with the Giants, and as a NY team they’re the 4th team I root for, after Jets/Saints/Packers (in that order). Their recent runs as Brady-killers only makes me like them more, and the season is too short to only root for one team!

    But I agree that for some reason Giants fans tend to bash the Jets a lot, and it makes Jets fans defensive. I’ve been in public places talking about the Jets with a friend and had random Giants fans overhear me (not at all talking about their team), come up and just say “Jets suck!”

  • Drew

    Kilbasar, those are perfect comparisons!

    I think of the team sitting on the ‘Iron Throne’ as the franchise with the most Superbowl rings. (Steelers = Lanisters)

    The more rings, the more powerful the house. (49ers & Cowboys = Baratheons and Targaryens)

    Having no rings is like having no last name yet (Texans = Davos?).

    This would make the Jets a powerful enough house to get invited to Joffery’s wedding, but not necessarily strong enough to make a push for the Throne (We are 5 rings behind the Steelers). Jets = House Martell of Dorne

    Winning the Superbowl gives you a house name. Accumulating rings is the only thing that can get your house more respect and closer to taking the Throne.