With the Super Bowl 51 just weeks away – and for the purposes of this story, the Pro Bowl just a week prior – we decided to put our thinking caps (or is that football helmets?) on and give a thought to what our “Fantasy Football for Motorheads” team would look like. Sure, others have put cars and sports together before, but until they can represent the blood ’n’ guts of American football, we say the envelope hasn’t been pushed enough quite yet.
Quarterback (QB) – Subaru WRX STI
The QB is often the leader of the offence – where did you think the saying “I’m going to quarterback this” came from, anyway? – but he obviously has to be much more than that. He needs to be able to throw, be smart enough to read what’s going on in front of him (to “read” the defence), and be ready to scramble when required. He also needs to be able to take a beating; the quarterback got sacked an average of 2.11 times per game in 2016. So, in our little game of car pigskin, the quarterback role should be played by something quick, tough and clever. Which, in the car world, is best described by electronic driving aids and AWD systems. The Subaru STI fits the bill; smart thanks to its ingenious C-Diff tech, fast thanks to its turbo four and like all modern Scoobys, it can take a beating, too.
Center (C) – AM General Hummer, or “HMMWV”
It’s the center’s job to get the ball to the QB as quickly as possible, but he then has to turn around and be ready to contain the blitz, too. As a result, he’s usually the biggest man on offense, personified, in this case, by the truck of all trucks: the AM General Hummer. Not much going to get through that.
Offensive Lineman, Guard (OL) – Nissan Titan XD Diesel Pro-4X
Most offensive formations have two of these, and it is their job to contain, contain, contain the defense and make sure they don’t get to that QB. They need to be big and have a no-nonsense attitude to getting the job done, making sure the defense doesn’t try that play ever again. The Titan – put more precisely, the Pro-4X off-road special version – is the perfect fit.
Offensive Lineman, Tackle (OL) – Mercedes-Benz G 550 4x42
Like the O-Guards, it is these guys’ – usually numbering two – job to keep the QB protected and stop the defence from forcing turnovers in the form of a fumble or interception. Unlike the O-Guards, however, the tackles need a little more agility; while the O-Guard’s job is to create holes, the tackle has to get to the holes created by the defense. That means having to adjust on-the-fly so you have to be big but agile, too; I wouldn’t say “agility” is high on the HMMWV’s list of qualities, but the Mercedes-Benz G-Class – especially in 4x42 guise, would be a perfect fit.
Running Back (RB) – Jeep Wrangler Sport
Big, burly and low to the ground – all necessary features when you’re trying to cut through wave after wave of 250 lb men, as the RB does whenever he gets the ball. The “ground game” in the NFL is always an important one – though we’ve seen a slight shift to the passing game recently – so this player has to be able to take a beating. The Wrangler can do all of this; locking differentials make for claw-like traction no matter the turf, while the short wheelbase means it can dart left and right on a dime and smash through whatever’s coning at it.
Wide Receiver (WR) – Ford GT
This guy’s modus operandi? Get down the field as quickly as possible, be ready for the ball once you get there, and be ready to turn a heel and hit the jets for end zone. With race-derived twin-turbo V6 power and chassis tuning, the GT is the right car for the job. Its ability to withstand the Le Mans endurance race – where it recently scored a class victory – is a testament to its durability, too, and we all know football players need a healthy portion of that. Having said that, some of the most “flamboyant” players – think Terrell Owens or Odell Beckham, Jr. – play the WR position, so you need a little bit of flash, too. The GT is a head-turner, no doubt about that.
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Tight End (TE) – Aston Martin DB11
These players have to be big and strong – think New England’s Rob Gronkowski – but they kind of have to play two different games; they need to be able to catch and go like a WR, but also to bust their way up the middle of the field like an RB. So, you need to have agility, but you need to be robust and sometimes cover long distances, too. What kind of car does that sound like? Well, the modern Grand Tourer, of course! And there are few as adept at making these as the boys from Gaydon. The DB11 is the latest in a long line of GTs from the British Manufacturer, and it’s a goody.
Defensive Tackle (DT) – Terradyne Gurkha
While we tend to go straight to the linebacker when it comes to describing someone’s size ("he’s built like a linebacker, I tell ya!"), the DTs tend to actually be the biggest men on the field; the New England Patriots’ Alan Branch, for example, tips the scales at almost 100 lbs. more than the team’s biggest linebacker, Dont’a Hightower. These DTs are the big men on the field, and they have to counter the threat presented by the HMMWV/G-Glass O-line on the other side of the ball. What better way to do that than to employ the Canadian-built Terradyne Gurkha? Fun fact: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, whose Agent Hobbs character drove a Gurkha in the Fast and Furious movie franchise, once played professional football as a…Defensive Tackle, in the Canadian Football League, and has Canadian citizenship. Imagine that.
Linebacker, Middle (LB) – Toyota 4Runner
Since he’s a linebacker, he has to be big and robust. Since he’s a middle-linebacker, however, he is often called upon to make defensive calls and adjust the line on-the-fly, so he needs to be adaptable, too. While we all know the 4Runner is perfectly capable of handling most any off-road challenge you can lob its way, most of the time in North America, these are daily drivers. They can do both very well, and their ability to retain immense value on the used market is a testament to their durability.
Linebacker, Outside (LB) – Ford F-150 Raptor
When it comes time to get into the opposing QB’s grille, these are the guys you turn to. They are big, fast and ready to bring the blitz when asked. Which is why the Ford F-150 Raptor is s perfect for this; it’s down two cylinders, but lighter than previous and more powerful, so there’s that. Plus, a new 10-speed transmission shared with certain muscle cars among other things, means it can get up and going real fast. Then, its sheer size (and speaking of “grilles”; just look at the item on the Raptor) means it will have no problem imprinting “Ford” in big, block letters on any opponent’s forehead.
Defensive End (DE) – Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Often regarded as the most athletic players on the defensive side of the ball, DE’s have to be able to get to that QB before anybody else does, including his own blockers. Sure; the DTs will ideally eventually help bring the QB down, but it’s the DE’s job to get the ball rolling. So he has to get there quickly, and once there, he needs power on reserve to bring his opponent down. The Z06 is a perfect example; athletic enough to clip the ¼-mile in just over 10 seconds, but strong thanks to its shared DNA with the Corvette endurance racing team.
Cornerback (CB) – Lamborghini Aventador SV LP750-4 Coupé
Like his WR counterpart, the CB needs to be able to get downfield as quickly as the ball does, but he also needs to be able to twist n’ turn in order to match the various jukes and spins the man he’s covering is bound to pull off. So, he needs power; how does 750 HP sound? Check. He’ll need grip; the LP750 is AWD, of course, with dynamic steering and magnetic dampers to keep things quick but grippy, too. Lightweight, so he can get moving fast? Well, it’s not really a lightweight, the LP750-4 SV, but all sorts of active aero from the standard Aventador has been scrapped in favour of lighter, stronger parts. Then again, you don’t want to be too light, lest the chap you’re pursuing throw you off too easily as you try to haul him down.
Safety (S) – Dodge Hellcat Twins
There are two safeties in most defensive alignments, and there roles are slightly different which is why we’ve decided to include two cars for them – sort of. After all, both the Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcat twins, while technically different cars, tend to sport the same calling card – a massively-powerful, supercharged V8 up front. So, they’re both fast, but they’re also both heavy brutes crafted from the finest Detroit (well, Brampton, actually) iron. For the strong safety, whose job it is to stop bigger players like TEs, we’re going with the Charger; there’s just a little more weight to throw around there. For the free safety, the Challenger is just the ticket; powerful enough to punch a hole in things, but with just enough weight saved to help track down those pesky WRs if need be.
Kicker (K) – Mazda MX-5
In low-scoring games, it’s often these folks that are most heavily relied on to give their team the edge on the scoresheet. They need to be precise, but they need to be somewhat powerful and reliable, too. While some may complain that the MX-5 is a little down on power, it more than makes up for it in dexterity and reliability.
Kick Returner – Ariel Nomad
Often a position held by the WR, this player has to be robust – I don’t know about you, but I’d think twice about looking skywards at a ball as 1,000s of pounds of man were streaking down towards me, with the singular goal of grinding my bones to dust one they arrived – but they have to be able to shake, rattle and roll with the best of them. Some of the most exciting plays in football happen when one of these guys manage to return a punt for a touchdown, the rough equivalent of an end-to-end rush in ice hockey. So they need to zip between tackles, take a few hits while they’re at it and manage to sprint their way to the finish line once through – an NFL football field’s 100 yards long, remember. The Ariel Nomad is perfect for this; big, chunky tires for traction, a metal cage around the occupants to stave off errant branches, and with 253 hp and only 1.4 tonnes to shove along, would have no problem getting to the finish line or end zone.
Punter (P) – Ford Shelby GT350R
While it is this player’s main goal to get the ball downfield with speed and strength, he needs some accuracy, too, for the occasional onside kick and so forth. So, the Shelby GT350R has enough power on tap to get hustling at pretty much any speed, but a robust chassis (and now, a multilink rear axle) means it’s also one of the most agile, precise Mustangs ever.