After you've finished watching American Football on Channel 4, you can flick round to channel 36 on your Spectrums (and soon, I understand, your Commodore 64s) and play the game yourself, minus the bruises.
There are probably two ways to design a game based on the Gridiron. One I played years ago on a Tandy (of course) required you to take direct charge of one of the players with a joystick. As soon as the whistle went the screen was a mad blur of stick men running in all directions.
Those primitive days are over - technology forges on. American Football from Argus Software casts the player as coach. Your job is to choose the offensive or defensive 'play' most likely to succeed under the prevailing circumstances of the game. Once you've issued instructions, your team of minions gets on with it.
The outcome seems to hinge on a combination of mostly luck and a little good judgment. You obviously don't know which play your opponent is going to choose and there seems to be a random element built in so the outcomes of identical offensive/defensive plays don't produce predictable results.
I imagine much careful coding has gone into this. The screen action is very good - all the little figures do a remarkable job of running about at the same time. Argus has thankfully provided a fairly comprehensive rules and strategy guide as a primer to the finer points of the game. It's not exactly action-packed, as you spend a fair bit of time just sitting there waiting for your team to take up positions. But I suppose you could always resort to hot dogs and popcorn to fill in the odd moments, just as you would at a real match.
American Football is well designed with a nice HELP facility and a scoreboard. It would have been a good touch to include those inane little phrases of organ music that come over the speakers at the real thing, but there you go.