NFL star Vernon Davis finally made it to Sochi to fulfill his roll as honorary captain of the U.S. Olympic curling team Saturday when he showed up to watch the women compete with the Swedes. The U.S. women lost the match, 6-7, and ended any chance of them eking out a spot in the semifinals , but that didn’t stop Davis from continuing to support a game that at first seems like a far cry from his day job as tight end for the San Francisco 49ers.
“The thing that intrigues me about curling is that it’s so competitive from a thinking standpoint,” Davis told the Associated Press after the match. “You really have to use your mind, really come up with a good strategy to defeat your opponent. …And curling helps me when it comes to the game of football.”
That may be because football and curling have a surprising amount in common, perhaps enough to convince the average football fan to give curling a chance.
Designed breaks between plays
Before the center snaps the ball, the offense gets to huddle and decide on their best course forward. Will they run or pass? Before a curler throws the stone, they get a similar conference. Will they throw a draw, a shot that doesn’t interact directly with other curling stones, or takeout, a shot meant to remove another stone from play?
Just as each player in football has a specific role, whether it be a free safety or a right tackle, so does each stone in curling. In addition to the point-scoring stones, there are a host of others, known as guards, freezes and more than 10 other titles that help curlers put those points on the board.
A leader who shouts weird things
Peyton Manning has “Omaha!” and “Bags Montana Fat Man!” Jennifer Jones, the head-curler-in-charge (the “skip” in curling lingo) of Canada’s undefeated Olympic team in Sochi, has “Hurry hard!” and “Die!” (Less morbid than it sounds, “Die!” refers to a stone that’s stopped moving.)
Lots of collisions between heavy entities
At around 40 pounds a piece, curling stones may be just about one-eighth the heft of Vince Wilfork or maybe the weight of pancakes he can probably consume in one sitting, but thrown hard, these stones can smack into each other with a respectably fearsome force.
Seven points scored at a time
Okay, so seven points at once in curling is rare, but it can happen.
Prominent use of the word “hog”
Curling boasts the “hogline,” the mark by which the curler delivering the stone down the ice must let go of the stone’s handle. And for longstanding Washington football fans, the word “hog” needs no explanation. What better sport to get into during football’s offseason than one that reminds you of the greatest O-line ever?
*Cue the music.* Are you ready for some curling?
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