Football in other countries is what we here in the US call soccer. It has been around a lot longer and is played in just about every country in the world. American football, as sports go, is relatively new for one and considered sissy in a lot of other countries because of the pads for another. I am American but grew up in England, home of rugby and real "football". They just can't see the use in all the pads and stopping after every play.
-- NFL is not Rugby with pads. In rugby, a tackler may not grab around the shoulders and neck. If you allowed an NFL player without pads to tackle a rugby player in an NFL way, the rugby player will most likely be injured or even die. When a rugby player is being chased, they can just pass the ball to another player so as not to get hit. NFL players (for the most part) have to keep the ball.
To answer the question though, NFL in the U.S. is more popular because it started there and it takes time to adapt to other countries. The NFL Europa had about 20,000 fans show up per game, but it didn't take off because they weren't the best of the best players. That is why the NFL is now having games played in England with the pro teams. Possibly two games in 2010 season.
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