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

Cole Patterson finds parallels between the NFL and Game of Thrones

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. 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 inspired 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 its dramatic matchups, ever evolving rivalries, and team defections create a literary piece all its 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 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.


  • I will not play spoiler
  • 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. They helped 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 in 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. 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. 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 scorned 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.

Author: Cole Patterson

Cole has attended American University in Washington DC and is currently completing a double major in history and global communications at Ramapo College in Northern NJ. He has served as an NFL Analyst for a local DC radio show, Fanatic Radio. He lives and dies with the New York Jets. Cole will help lead Jets coverage and analysis.