Here’s a riddle for you: what do the great houses of Westeros have in common with major league sports teams? At first glance, you might be tempted to say “nothing,” but look a little closer. As CBS Sports noted, both of them have logos (though the nobles featured in Game of Thrones typically call them sigils), and the NFL is using that one similarity to give the families from George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire (more popularly known as Game of Thrones) some sweet headgear.
The site went on to state that the NFL has also launched helmet re-designs for the premieres of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Now, several of the houses from Game of Thrones are joining that list. CBS Sports listed nine of the houses in all (Baratheon, Targaryen, Lannister, Greyjoy, Tyrell, Stark, Tully, Bolton and Martell), but House Stark and House Targaryen have arguably the nicest and most detailed artwork on their helmets.
Just in case that wasn’t cool enough, reddit user Tim Proby took things one step further, envisioning every NFL team as if it were a great house of Westeros. For instance, the Philadelphia Eagles donned the words “Terror Above” as their battle cry, while the New York Jets got an actual jet plane emblazoned with the slogan “Fly high, fly true” as its logo (or sigil, if you prefer).
The article’s author also made a few good points about how Westeros’ nobles really aren’t that different from NFL players, relating facts about the belligerent nature of most sports to the (very) violent world of Game of Thrones.
“NFL players style themselves as warriors, and the league—with the epic theme music and glorious, slow-motion imagery that dramatizes those players’ on-field efforts—does little to dissuade fans from mythologizing the game.”
Sure, NFL players don’t decapitate their enemies, and maybe the men and women of Westeros don’t wear uniforms (unless you count their armor as such), but they’re still really not that different. That being said, the helmets are a bit more family-friendly than the original sigils — for example, House Bolton’s helmet has a funny, cartoon-like hot dog character in place of its real banner, a man being flayed (skinned alive). Also, none of the house’s words are on the helmet, possibly by coincidence, possibly because nobody wants to wear a “Fire And Blood” helmet to a public event.
Whatever the case, Game of Thrones may have contributed some influences to another sport as well: MMA, which now hosts a league for armored “Knights” to battle one another in. It seems there’s almost no end to the amount of derivations, parodies, and adaptations this series has produced (seriously, YouTube is chock full of parodies), and it’s not even finished yet (two more books, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring, are due to be written, though there’s no real date slated for them yet). As Game of Thrones fans await the final two books in the series with baited breath and many a fan theory about how the series will end, there’s only one thing that can be certain: NFL teams would definitely get way more playtime in Westeros (seriously, spring lasts like 12 years there).
[Photo Credit: CBS Sports]