10 IPhone and IPad Apps Every NFL Fan Must Have
Technology is changing the way NFL fans interact with the game they love.
Never before have fans had so many tools at their disposal to study, gather info about, read content on and be entertained by football.
Think about it. Years ago, the NFL Network didn't exist, and there was certainly nothing like RedZone. One couldn't just watch any game they wanted with Sunday Ticket, they were forced to rely on local networks and hope they had the right games. Out-of-market fans had to read about their teams in box score format only or hope that Sports Illustrated was covering them that week.
Everything has changed, and NFL fans have never been so lucky.
Not only is there unprecedented coverage, but as the digital era makes way for the mobile era, gadgets have permeated our culture, and the NFL community has responded.
The NFL itself has even responded, as they look to enable every stadium in the league with Wi-Fi in the next few years. Now, rather than needing to stay home to play with all of their gadgets, fans can take them to the stadium and set their lineups as they tailgate.
Here are 10 iOS apps for your iPhone and iPad.
Team Stream by Bleacher Report
Yes, I'm going to start with Bleacher Report's own app.
Yes, I understand that I'm biased here. Doesn't matter if it's "navel gazing" or not, Team Stream is a great app.
This is how it works: Download the app, tell it what your favorite teams are, enjoy.
Not only does it feature the B/R content you know and love, it also curates content from all of your other favorite sources and even features tweets on the teams and topics you love. No other app does that like B/R does. That's why Team Stream consistently gets great reviews from just about everyone who tries it.
You can even use Team Stream's new social feature to share the stories with your friends, family or anyone else in your iOS contacts. The best way to settle a debate since the invention of the punch.
The iPad app is even prettier in fantastic HD—almost like slideshows were made just for the new retina display.
If you are an NFL fan who isn't on Twitter, you are missing out.
I get it; I was a avid Twitter-hater for a long time. I didn't see any reason why people would want to know what I was eating for dinner and I didn't really care about celebrities' political leanings or fashion choices.
Eventually, I learned that Twitter is so much more. Twitter is, frankly, whatever you want it to be.
As a writer, I used Twitter to spread my content to and otherwise communicate with my (meager) fanbase—a.k.a., the 4,000 fake accounts my mom made to make me feel better. I also use it to talk to other people in the media and learn more about their teams and topics. I rarely follow athletes, but if that's your thing, go ahead!
Twitter is a great news breaking tool. Want to know news an hour before everyone else? Twitter is the best tool to do so—especially on an NFL Sunday. Start/Sit lists, injury news, last-minute changes, etc. happen on Twitter before they happen on TV. Want to know the status of the player who left the field? Twitter will have that before TV every single time.
If you don't have Twitter, get it. Now.
To get you started, here's Matt Miller's list of the best NFL follows on Twitter, and here's my list of the best people to follow who have under 10,000 followers.
NFL Game Rewind
This app is free, but one needs to buy a subscription to actually use it.
It's well worth the money.
NFL Game Rewind lets fans watch every single game after the fact. Never miss another snap ever again. Not only that, one can choose between "Broadcast" footage or condensed nuggets that take out all of the fluff in-between plays.
Thirty-minute NFL games? I'm already in. You should be too.
For some extra coin, you can even access the Holy Grail of NFL scouting—coaches' tape. A panned-out view both from above the sideline and (on some plays) from the end zone to watch everything network broadcasts don't show you.
A subscription gives access to these games on computers and iPads, but only on the iPad can the footage be broken down and telestrated on. The only thing that's missing is John Madden saying "Boom" every time you do it.
Rotoworld Fantasy News
Fantasy fans have known about Rotoworld for a long time, but it's become so much more than a fantasy resource; even NFL fans who don't play fantasy (and, really? Why not?) can enjoy this content.
Rotoworld curates almost every single piece of NFL news and compacts it in little bite-sized nuggets with their own (usually fantasy-oriented) spin. They also link to the news, so people can go read the original commentary for even more info.
As a guy who cannot absorb enough NFL news, Rotoworld is probably the non-social app I check the most because it's constantly updating and it's always something that interests me.
NBC Sports Talk
NBC also owns Rotoworld, so kudos to them for having two great apps under their umbrella.
Many of you probably know Mike Florio's Pro Football Talk that was brought into the NBC family and spun off into a bunch of different sites with similar styles and formats. While I enjoy College Football Talk and Pro Basketball Talk as well, we'll focus on PFT here.
Want to know what to talk about around the water cooler at work? PFT has you covered.
Want to know what league insiders are reading on their commutes to work as well? Probably PFT.
Interested in what the day's big NFL news means long-term? PFT has that as well.
It's changed a lot since the early days, when Florio was running things part-time and digging up news and rumors others weren't. It's lost a lot of the "blog" feel, as they've brought in great guys like Michael David Smith and Darin Gantt to make it an around-the-clock, full-service site.
The interface of the app is as user-friendly as the content.
Podcasts aren't as "in" as they once were, but there is still a lot of great content you're missing if you're not using Apple's Podcasts app to keep up to date.
Fairly straightforward, the app lets you search for and subscribe to any podcasts you could ever want. Rather than downloading them one by one from iTunes, it's great to go back and listen to older episodes or catch up if you've missed a few.
My favorite podcast is "The Audible" by TheFootballGuys.com. It's hosted by Cecil Lammey (ESPN Denver) and Sigmund Bloom (B/R), who have been with TFG for a long time and know more football than any other two guys on any podcast, anywhere.
Other great shows: The Dan Patrick Show, Rich Eisen Podcast.
NFL Pro 2013
This free app is basically a knockoff Madden engine that can be maddening if you're used to the smooth gameplay that EA Sports has to offer.
However, the price is right to waste some time and lead your favorite team to an NFL championship.
The controls are straightforward, and there is a nice tutorial that teaches everything to you before the first game. The game also utilizes a experience point/leveling up system which means the more someone plays, the better their players will be.
One of the coolest things about the game is that it is actually licensed through the NFL and the actual teams are in there. The weirdest thing, however, is that it isn't licensed through NFL Players, and all of the names and likenesses are off just enough that the game might as well be winking at you.
"Ndamukong Wyh?" Really? I think I see what you did there.
Yahoo! (or ESPN) Fantasy Football App
Yahoo! and ESPN both have nice fantasy apps that let you make roster moves from anywhere with an Internet connection.
It's handy for those late-breaking nuggets of news you got on Twitter, but aren't close enough to home to take advantage of. It's also a great way to waste a few minutes in traffic (when you're not driving, of course!) and you're looking for that extra edge.
As mentioned in the intro, these apps' best use are taking them to games to stay up to date on your fantasy team while you're taking in your favorite team in person. It's the best of both worlds!
Featuring Yahoo! here because they have a iPad app, while ESPN's is optimized for iPhone and (in my opinion) looks a little silly on the iPad's big screen. Obviously, your own choice will be made based on which site you use for your league.
At first, the NFL's official app is pretty bare-bones and easy to use—almost an app everyone would download but few would actually use. That, of course, would be a huge mistake because this app has a lot of extra features that come in handy.
Scores, news and standings are all interesting, but can't really envision people spending a lot of time on those. However, the scoreboard (shown) is great to have open on Sunday afternoon—especially alongside RedZone.
Thursday Night Football Xtra is a cool added-value to the app and can certainly help enrich the game for most viewers with trivia and in-depth stats from NFL research.
Away from home for a weekend? This app lets you listen to every game on the NFL's radio network (in English or Spanish) for $20 a season.
Just want to waste time? Kill an hour or 24 with the NFL's treasure trove of video highlights.
This app is a must-download for any level of NFL fan.
Our final app is a bit of a surprise inclusion.
Flipboard is an awesome curator app that will help almost everyone read more. While it isn't just sports, it has a lot of sports offerings—Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, ESPN, Grantland, USA Today, The Score and many others.
There are even feeds built around the NFL as a topic, the NFL's official Instagram account and many others, as this app constantly updates.
Flipboard is also intensely visual and social.
Connect your favorite Twitter accounts to get those right into your Flipboard feed. Check out amazing picture in stunning clarity. Find and explore content you probably never would've found before.
Everyone needs to read more. This app is the perfect vehicle to send that info (on NFL or any other topic you choose) right to our fingertips.
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff alongside other great writers at "The Go Route."