Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In



What if pro cycling were the National Football League?

Fred Dreier considers pro cycling's constant state of turmoil and how it would translate into a sport better known to American sports fans.

Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.

As cycling fans, we have grown accustomed to our sport’s constant chaos.

Cycling’s transfer window is not yet a week old, and already numerous marquee athletes have either confirmed or hinted at team changes. Two teams face evaporation if their respective searches for title sponsorship come up empty. A fan-friendly American rider tested positive for PEDs. French fans doused the Tour champ in pee.

And to think: This has been a relatively quiet year for the sport.

I regularly attempt to explain cycling’s wacky homeostasis to fans of mainstream American sports. They struggle to understand how cycling can produce such newsworthy moments on a daily basis. NBA fans, after all, once waited an entire year to learn whether LeBron James would stay in Cleveland.

I think we can agree that cycling’s regular turmoil can incite madness, sadness, and anger. But when viewed through a certain lens, I believe we can also find humor in these upheavals. For example, what if cycling’s weirdness occurred in mainstream sports? Would Twitter explode? Would SportsCenter anchors die from anxiety attacks? Would Red Sox fans loot Boston?

Below, I’ve attempted to frame cycling’s disorderly normalcy by comparing it to the sports league that most Americans follow, the National Football League (NFL). Perhaps this list will show your favorite NFL fan just how exciting and maddening it is to follow bike racing.

Of course the NFL has its own turmoil (see domestic violence and deflated footballs). But if the NFL underwent a 12-month stretch similar to the 2014-15 cycling season, it would look something like this:

August: After struggling to secure operational funding, the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns merge into a single team, the Ohio Browgals. Half of the players from each team lose their jobs.

September: To help fund the team, the Washington Redskins ink a sponsorship deal with shampoo manufacturer Proctor and Gamble, and rename the team the Washington Red and Shoulders.

October: Half of all NFL players change teams.

November: After securing funding, the New York Giants finally pay their players.

December: Organizers of the Pro Bowl discover endangered trees growing out of the turf at Aloha Stadium. They reschedule the game for the next day at a nearby junior high school.

January: Unapologetic “Spygate” perpetrator Bill Belichik says he’d probably cheat all over again, if given the chance.

February: Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers game cancelled due to lack of funds.

March: The NFL releases a special report basically saying everyone is still using steroids.

April: Peyton Manning retires after AFC playoff game, becomes a kicker, and attempts to break field goal record.

May: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones fires the team’s head coach and begins writing weekly blog for where he bashes his marquee players. He also takes to Twitter to troll everyone in France.

June: The NFL drops its deflating football case against Tom Brady.

June: Organizers of the Super Bowl threaten to leave the NFL altogether if structural reforms not followed.

July: Russell Wilson threatens to leave Seahawks after spat with ownership. Rob Gronkowski leaves the Patriots. Another season of player transfers begins with a long list of rumors.