As the NFL season heats up fans will be gearing up for the season, checking on their favorite teams and players, and researching their fantasy football picks and rosters often away from their desktops and televisions. Here are a few tips for keeping track of the pigskin fun while on the go.
Keeping Track During the Games
The NFL has really updated its website for in game tracking. They still offer the old visual drive charts and scoreboard (see below).
But now fans can watch video clips of the game while it is still being played. Users can also chat with other fans during the game. The NFL still has the best site for keeping track of the game when you are away from the TV. Below is a screen shot of the four tabs that sit directly below the drive chart/scoreboard (above). A fan can keep track of game stats of their favorite players on the Track and Analyze tabs, discuss the game in live chat under the Discuss tab, and watch clips of the game under the Watch tab.
This is great, but most people want to see the actual games. For the DirecTV customer there is the exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket. That is great if a fan is in front of her TV, but when away, there is a good way for customers of DirecTV to still see the games with NFL Sunday Ticket To-Go. The service lets fans watch games on their computer after logging in and subscribing to the Sunday Ticket (a hefty $50 a month for 5 months on the Sunday Ticket and an extra $10 a month for Sunday Ticket To-Go). Another option is using the mobile app on a smart phone or iPad. The iPhone version is called NFL SuperFan and it is pretty good. I look forward to seeing the iPad version which is not yet out. Let’s hope they are not just expecting users to install the iPhone version but will have a full screen iPad version of their app, much like the MLB At Bat app, which is excellent. There is also one for some Android and Blackberry models. A version for Windows Mobile and Palm Pre is available too.
Example of Sunday Ticket-To-Go
There is one big weakness to this aside from the astronomical price. If the game is not an NFL Sunday Ticket game, fans are out of luck. Games broadcast on ESPN Monday Night Football or NBC Sunday Night Football will not be able to use the DirecTV To-Go to view games. For that, I suggest looking for online streams of games put up by fans. One place that often has the games is Justin.tv. It is not foolproof. Some games won’t be there. But this is my first stop. Another reliable options is ATDHE.net. Believe it or not there are many sites like this available, so surf to your favorite search site and look for NFL football games.
A fan may still strike out if she doesn’t to pay for the Sunday Ticket and can’t find a live video stream. But fans might be able to listen. One way is to subscribe to Sirius Satellite Radio’s online service and add the NFL as an option. What is needed is a radio, which can be purchased either online or at an electronics retailer. Then subscribe to the service and add the NFL package. There is a subscription fee. With the service subscribers can listen to all the games and other NFL related radio shows aired between the games.
There is also an online audio subscription from the NFL website called Audio Pass. If you act now you can get for just $30 for the season. After that it is $40 or $10 a month.
For Verizon subscribers there is NFL Mobile, which gives customers access to radio broadcasts of all the games. This used to be a service of Sprint, but Verizon snagged it for the 2010 season. This year the video of all the NFL Network games on Thursdays will be available along with Sunday Night Football broadcasts. The app will be free on certain Android and Blackberry phones.
Getting News and Highlights
Many of the above services offer news, scores and video highlights of the games. Once they are complete, there are some alternatives like the ESPN website. Other great sports sites following the NFL include all the major TV networks (Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC). Also makes sure to search your smart phone’s app store or venders as many of them have mobile apps too with news and highlights of the games.
If you are a Twitter or Facebook, follow your favorite team’s office Twitter profile and become a fan of them on Facebook.
While we are on the Twitter subject, many NFL athletes are on Twitter. Search for your favorites and follow them. They will often post links to their pages or news about special appearances. Some have even held Twitter contests to give away gear and tickets. One example is Chad Ochocinco of the Cincinnati Bengals. He is very active on Twitter and quite entertaining. Some may not be sure which stars they would like to follow. Here is one Twitter user who has organized some of the best into three Twitter lists, including NFL media people, defensive players, and offensive players.
Following Your Fantasy Team
Fantasy football is one of the most popular ways to keep track of the NFL. There are hundreds of online league sites including one from the NFL and most major sports news outlets host them too. My experience is that the best is Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football. For those living on a desert island for 30 years, Fantasy Football is where you compete with others choosing real NFL stars and organizing them into an imaginary (hence the name fantasy) team. You pick a QB from the Colts and a Wide Receiver from the Patriots, etc. and on game day choose which of your players to start. When that player does something in the real NFL game, you get credit in your fantasy league. In most leagues you are matched up head-to-head with another player that week. The team with the most fantasy points wins.
There are a ton of sites that offer help and advice on which players to pick. One of those that many won’t think about is Yahoo. There are dozens of videos about fantasy football, including the following which promises to help you pick a sleeper RB in this year’s draft.
To keep track of your team, you go online at the Yahoo site and manage your team from their easy-to-use interface. But you can also do so from the mobile apps they have released. The Yahoo Fantasy Football iPhone app makes this very easy and you have it at your finger tips. They promise that an Android app is coming soon. The app gives users live scoring, so a team “owner” can keep track of how his or her players are doing while their games are happening.
If a player goes down due to injury, owners can quickly drop them and add a new player right in the app, giving him or her an edge on the competition who may be at a sports bar or a friend’s house where there is no access to the Yahoo website.
There are probably dozens of other ways to follow your football team whether real or fantasy. If you have some that we haven’t listed, comment below.