Three more sleeps stand between millions of fans and the eighth and final season of the hit HBO show, Game of Thrones. The worlds of the NFL and GoT are so far apart, but they do have their connections. George R. R. Martin, who wrote the Game of Thrones books, grew up a huge Giants fan and actually named a giant in the show, Wun Wun, after former quarterback Phil Simms because he wore No. 11. Joey Bosa, star defensive end for the Los Angeles Chargers, is also set to make his own brief cameo in the final season.
With such an historic show (probably the most enticing of this decade) nearing its end, I thought I’d take some time to combine the worlds of the NFL and Westeros — comparing Colts athletes with characters of the show. If dragons and ice zombies aren’t your thing, sorry, they are for me. Hit the intro music!
Nyheim Hines = Arya Stark
We’re going to ease into this with a simple look at the similarities between rookie switchblade Nyheim Hines and the youngest and probably most frightening Stark sibling, Arya.
Hines is a prototypical scat back, sifting through the defense and using his top-end speed and agility to break tackles and evade defenders. As soon as he’s effectively dodged his opponents, he strikes for a chunk play and hurts his opponents with long gains and touchdowns.
Arya Stark has been escaping enemies’ grasps since leaving King’s Landing in Season One, and has maximized her impact despite her small frame. She’s agile, swift and can hit you with a variety of weapons. Just when you think you have her cornered she puts a knife through your throat — and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Chuck Pagano = Ned Stark
Pour one out for the ones we’ve lost along the way. Two extremely honorable and respectful men, their kindness and passiveness prove to be their demise. Ned lost his head when a new regime began under Joffrey Baratheon, and Pagano lost his job when the Chris Ballard era took form.
T.Y. Hilton = Ghost, the direwolf
This one just comes primarily from the fact that Hilton’s nickname is “The Ghost,” but there is one other glaring connection to note — their lack of initial value.
In Game of Thrones, Ghost was seen as the runt of the litter, and was the sixth and final direwolf picked up by the Stark family. In the 2012 NFL Draft, T.Y. Hilton was the 13th wide receiver selected. Both have undoubtedly outperformed their initial expectations and should do so for the remainder of their careers.
Margus Hunt = Sandor Clegane, a.k.a. “The Hound”
Sometimes these pairings just make sense. While The Hound isn’t quite as frightening as his zombie (?) older brother The Mountain — and don’t worry, we’ll get to him later — he’s easily one of the most intimidating characters on the show. Margus Hunt, on the other hand, was the tallest defensive tackle in 2018 at a towering 6-foot-8 and ripped through opponents’ interior offensive lines.
The Hound has some of the most gruesome murders in the show and has a multitude of ways of destroying his foes. Likewise, Hunt can be absolutely ruthless in the interior and has no mercy for those in his way — as evidenced by the video below.
Darius Leonard = Tormund Giantsbane
Two maniacs in their own rights make my next casting decision, having defensive rookie of the year Darius Leonard play the role of Free Folk leader Tormund Giantsbane. Just as we’ve never seen Leonard shy away from an on-field collision, Tormund is at the front of the lines for every fight — looking to do as much damage as possible on his enemies.
Both have also come from smaller platforms to make a much bigger impact on bigger stages. Tormund went from a wildling to fighting alongside Jon Snow in the war against the Night King and his white walker army, while Leonard went from an FCS program one year to leading the NFL in tackles the next.
Quenton Nelson = Ser Gregor Clegane, a.k.a. “The Mountain”
You can’t make this list without finding a fit for Quenton Nelson, the baddest man on the planet. His elite blocking ability almost pushed me to pair him with Hodor, who kept the white walkers away from Bran Stark by just sitting in front of a door and holding it shut. However, given his frightening stature and the minimal effort it takes to destroy his opponents, Nelson is a prime candidate for the role of Ser Gregor Clegaine, The Mountain.
Both have tremendous stature and physicality, and neither are ones to shy away from a battle. The Mountain was so crucial to the Lannister family that, when he died, they used dark magic and medicine to revive the beast. Even after a season, I think we can all agree that Jim Irsay would love to find a combination of drugs and medicine to keep Nelson on the offensive line for the rest of time.
Josh McDaniels = Cersei Lannister
This is another one that’s just too easy to poke fun at. Two snakes in their own right — McDaniels for accepting a head coaching job with the Colts before bailing just hours before his introduction, and Cersei for everything (?) — they’re a match made in heaven. Both are important figures of the “evil empires” of their respective realms, and are really only focused on themselves
Andrew Luck = Samwell Tarly
And last but not least we arrive at QB1, Andrew Luck. This was a no-brainer for me, pairing him with maybe the most intelligent and wise character on the show — Samwell Tarly. Not only do both LOVE to read, but they each don their own “interesting” neck beards.
Now there are some differences between the two; Luck is a confident and athletic human being, while Tarly is a shy, pudgy man. However, both are way more important to their franchise or world than most may realize. The quarterback position is easily the most valuable on an NFL team, and Tarley’s findings in the Citadel may as well save the future of humanity in Game of Thrones. Also, I just picture these two getting along way too well. I could definitely picture them sitting by the fire, drinking craft beers or wine and discussing literature.
Are there any that I’ve missed? Let’s hear your casting options in the comments.