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Editor's note: The NFL playoffs are fast approaching, and to help China Daily readers get a grip on what is happening, popular analyst Ron Jaworski, who played 17 years in the NFL and earned All-Pro honors and a Super Bowl berth with the Philadelphia Eagles, will provide insight into this crucial part of the exciting sport. Jaworski, who works for ESPN and has his own radio shows, introduces himself to his new audience today.
I visited China this August for the first time, and took away great memories of diverse and fascinating culture.
Just as importantly, I came away with first-hand knowledge of just how well American football is positioned to develop into a sport China will embrace as passionately as America has for more than 100 years.
That visit gave rise to this new column, which I am privileged and honored to offer the readers of China Daily as an ongoing discussion of this great game.
First, a little about myself. My life has revolved entirely around football. I grew up in Buffalo, New York, then accepted a full scholarship to play quarterback at Youngstown State University. That led me to the NFL, where my career as a professional reached its peak when I led the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl in 1981.
Since retiring from the NFL after 17 years, I've made football the center of my business ventures. I broadcast and comment for ESPN, have my own radio shows, and have been a team owner in the United States' only other professional football league - the Arena Football League - since 2004. My Philadelphia Soul won the AFL championship in 2008 and played in the title game this past season.
I'll use this column to give you my thoughts on both leagues.
The NFL is in its final weeks of regular-season competition before the playoffs begin in January. Most playoff spots have now been settled and those teams now have an eye on the pinnacle of the game - the Super Bowl.
This time of year, football takes center stage in America, as the start of the playoffs comes during our holiday season. American families take time off to spend time together - and spend much of that time watching football.
Right now, some of the usual suspects are in contention, including the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens.
However, this has been the season of the rookie quarterback. In my day, it was all but unheard of for a first-year player to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. This year? There were five rookies starting this past weekend, and at least three could lead their teams to the playoffs.
In the NFC East, where I played with the Eagles, three teams were tied for the lead going into the penultimate weekend. They included the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, with veteran quarterback Eli Manning, but they all but dropped out of the race with a loss to Baltimore on Sunday, so Dallas and Washington will meet this weekend to decide the East championship.
The Washington Redskins are the biggest surprise, led by one of those rookie QBs in Robert Griffin III. Griffin, along with Andrew Luck in Indianapolis and Russell Wilson in Seattle, has a shot at both taking his team to the playoffs and being named Rookie of the Year. Personally, I can't wait to see how this plays out, and look forward to sending my thoughts and inside information your way!
I think football is the world's most exciting game, and I can't wait to share it with you and all the readers of China Daily.
Ron Jaworski can be reached at email@example.com.
(China Daily 12/25/2012 page23)