Comics
Published February 3, 2021

Playing Football in the Marvel Universe

Flip through Marvel history as heroes like Spider-Man, Deadpool, and more pass the pigskin!

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Did you know that football has made multiple appearances in the mighty Marvel Universe!? 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #153

With the good ol' gridiron on everyone's mind, we’re dusting off the archives and highlighting notable moments when the sport kicked off some life-saving events! First off...

Spidey Safety!

In AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #153, after Peter Parker interviewed former football player Dr. Bradley “Boom Boom” Bolton, he got wrapped up in a plot designed by the villainous Paine, who was holding Bolton’s daughter for ransom! The battle for Bolton’s little girl went down on Empire State University’s football field, where Bolton dodged bullets and protected his daughter, while Spider-Man prevented Paine and his goons from scoring their ultimate goal. 

The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #153

The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #153

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FOOTBALL PLAYERS TACKLE THE PARANORMAL!

As seen in MARVEL COMICS (2019) #1001, after New York Smashers’ star football player Jack Magniconte’s paranormal powers manifested, loan sharks killed his brother! He vowed to use his powers for good and started Kickers, Inc.—a group comprised of his former teammates and his wife, Darlene—to investigate strange cases. The team's tag, of course, was an homage to the 1980s limited series of the same name!

Marvel Comics (2019) #1001

Marvel Comics (2019) #1001

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A UNIVERSE-SAVING HAIL MARY!

When Spider-Man helped out in a neighborhood kids’ game of football after one of the team members suffered an injury, little did he know there were higher powers betting on the game!

It turned out that Uatu the Watcher and the alien thief A’sai placed a bet on the game; Uatu chose Spider-Man’s team, and if he lost, A’sai would have access to powerful weapons that could destroy the universe. Luckily, Spider-Man staved off the competition and the team member who he originally subbed for returned—for a universe-saving touchdown! Talk about a high stakes game! See the tactical strategies Spidey employed to help his team get ahead in WEB OF SPIDER-MAN (1985) #34!

Web of Spider-Man (1985) #34

Web of Spider-Man (1985) #34

    • publishedJan 2, 1988
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FLAG FOOTBALL: AVENGERS ACADEMY VS. X-KIDS!

Rival schools went head-to-head in AVENGERS ACADEMY (2010) #38! The Avengers Academy and the X-Men’s Jean Grey School got together on Mar-Vell Field for a friendly game of flag football, with powers. Sounds like a battlefield in the making! Let’s just say that the teachers got involved and it quickly became one for the record books.

Avengers Academy (2010) #38

Avengers Academy (2010) #38

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THE UNSTOPPABLE RUNNING BACK!

A more recent event in the Marvel Universe was actually related to real life! Marvel’s Hero Project highlights inspiring young people, and one particular installment saw the creation of the comic MARVEL'S HERO PROJECT SEASON 1: UNSTOPPABLE ADONIS (2019) #1, the follow-up to Marvel’s Hero Project season 1 episode 3, "Unstoppable Adonis"!

Marvel's Hero Project Season 1: Unstoppable Adonis (2019) #1

Marvel's Hero Project Season 1: Unstoppable Adonis (2019) #1

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Pro-football Player Walter Langkowski!

Before joining Alpha Flight and fighting for good, Walter Langkowski was a professional football player! While studying in college on a football scholarship, Langkowski met Bruce Banner and they butted heads over gamma theory. After Banner’s alter-ego the Hulk was revealed, Langkowski studied gamma radiation more seriously and with backing from Department H, Canada’s Super Hero Monitoring Agency, and they replicated Banner’s work. Doing so transformed Langkowski into Sasquatch, a powerful beast! 

IMMORTAL HULK (2018) #4, page 7
IMMORTAL HULK (2018) #4, page 7

Football Hot-Shot Ben Grimm!

Before becoming the Thing and saving the day with the Fantastic Four, Ben Grimm was a high school football star! State University even gave him a football scholarship, and he became their best player while his roommate and friend Reed Richards cheered him on in the stands. Grimm was then chosen for the All-American team! It's true, we tell ya—see this part of his origin story in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #11!

Fantastic Four (1961) #11

Fantastic Four (1961) #11

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Honorable Mentions

The 12th Man, Wade Wilson!

Here we have Deadpool being Deadpool, dodging zombies while carrying a zombie version of his own head while striking a signature pose. Check out his game-changing moves in DEADPOOL: MERC WITH A MOUTH (2009) #1!

DEADPOOL: MERC WITH A MOUTH (2009) #1 variant cover by Ed McGuinness
DEADPOOL: MERC WITH A MOUTH (2009) #1 variant cover by Ed McGuinness

Football Player Takes Hit, Becomes SuperPro!

In the early '90s, former football player Phil Grayfield’s career ended after injured his knee while saving a child's life! Afterward, he met a scientist who happened to be a football fan and was creating an experimental indestructible football uniform. While visiting the scientist's lab, an accident befell Grayfield, exposing him to chemicals that altered his DNA; the resulting effects made him practically invincible. From then on, he chose the hero’s game with a hero’s name: SuperPro, tackling football-themed foes!

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