"In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line." —George Carlin in Baseball vs. Football
Funny yes, but what does it all mean?
By looking at a football game, it seems so easy. The technical objective is to score more points than your opponent but really, it's just to beat the crap out of all the other players on the field, sometimes including those on your own team (hard to tell who is who when everyone jumps in a big pile and your helmet is in the way)!
The other day, for research purposes, I decided to watch a game and ignore any football knowledge I have accumulated over the last decade or two. And, wow, it's actually a pretty complex sport with lots of terms and rules and stuff that gave me a headache!
And most of my research was very dry and drawn out: aka BORING! So I'm breaking it down in a very stiletto-girl-friendly way.
This will be Part One: Very basic terms to know before attempting to read on, let alone watch a game! I know that there are a lot technicalities within each term but I don't want to confuse anyone. Namely, myself.
There is a lot even in Part I, but I'll keep it as short as possible
First, the Pigskin: Yeah, that's the football.
The Playing Field:
The Gridiron: the football field. My fascinating fact: comes from the word Griddle, like the frying pans! If you look at a griddle they have parallel lines to cook on and that's what the gridiron means: a surface with parallel lines. Mmm..pancakes sound so good right now. Oh right, football. Blah.
Yard: Equivalent to three feet or 36 inches. It is the unit of measurement of the field. Why? I have no idea. The field itself is 100 yards (120 with both end zones).
End Zone: This is the spot the teams are trying to get the ball to. There is one on each end of the field and it's where the big goal posts live! Get the ball into the end zone and you score points! Yay!
Line of Scrimmage: I knew this one till I read the definition. It was so wordy it confused me. In football there are two lines, offensive and defensive. This refers to the spot where both lines, well, line up with the ball in the middle to get ready to start the next action-packed sequence.
There are two ways to score: Touchdowns and Field Goals
Touchdown: When a team scores by "touching down" the ball in the end zone, meaning carried in or caught. It is worth six points and then the scoring team gets to try and kick the ball for an extra point. Not really sure why it's worth six whole points. Most sports you get one. Basketball has a 3-point shot. Maybe thats why. Because they had to bring the ball so far down the field, it's worth more? Hmm.... But in that case if someone runs the ball all the way from the other end zone, shouldn't it be worth six points?
Field Goal: You know those big goal posts at the end of the field? When a team kicks the football into the middle of them they score three points!
Field Kick: The kick that gets them those three points. Duh.
Extra points: After a touchdown, the scoring team gets to kick the ball into the goal posts to attempt to gain an extra point, bringing their score from six to seven points. Or they can try to run it in again for two points.
Quarterback: The QB! He tends to be the team's leading star. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here but it doesn't seem like a team can be successful without a great quarterback. He pretty much puts the football in play from throwing passes or handing off the ball.
The second objective of football, besides scoring points, is to achieve the first Down. :
Downs: Yeah...really, really don't want to explain this because it's just one of those weird football things that are so essential to the game, yet so WEIRD! I'm sure you have heard it: First down, Second down, Third down, Fourth down.....
The offensive team gets four chances to move the ball ten yards down the field. Each chance is a "down." If they don't advance 10 yards in four tries, the ball goes back to the other team. Kinda like baseball: you have three outs per side before you give the ball back to the other team.
Downs & Yards, i.e, First & Ten, Third and inches,.
This means it's the First Down, or chance, and the offense still needs to move the ball 10 yards.
Third and inches means its the third chance and they only have a few inches to go to hit the 10-yard mark!
**There are markers on the side of the field to help determine if the down was made. Sometimes it really does come within inches. Watching a televised game? They have a digital line to show viewers at home where the first down is! Great technology!
Passing play: I read that this is "a play in which a forward pass is made." Gee that's helpful. That makes it sound like any time a guy hits on me in a bar.
Receiver: Player catching or receiving the pass.
Incomplete pass: A pass that goes awry. No one is able to catch the ball.
Interception: A pass that is successfully caught by the other team, aka intercepted.
Fumble: An, "oops, my bad." When a player messes up with the ball and it fumbles around. Usually funny to watch.
Pass Interference: This is different than an interception because it's an action that inhibits the pass receiver from catching the ball and it's not allowed.
Some other stuff:
Football's version of "the bend and snap" Oh that's right, I just compared football to Legally Blonde! Yay! Elle teaches us that Guaranteed Guy Getter is the "bend and snap" (aka bend forward to show your booty and then snap back up with your chest thrust forward) and football has the same move! The players bend over with their tushies in the air until the ball is "snapped" and then they too, all snap back and run, chest forward into the person in front of them! :)
The Snap: When the Center (the player in the middle of the bending lineup) passes the ball between his legs to the QB or player behind him to start off each play with a snap!
The Play: The action-packed sequence that occurs after the snap until it is stopped (out of bounds, interception, tackle, fumble, score...till the next sequence begins)
False Start: Never really understood this one even though every game I've ever watched seems to have this happen. The best answer I could come up with was from wikipedia saying it's "a sudden movement of the offense in an attempt to draw the defense offsides." Freaking great. Still no idea what that means or why it's bad. And no one seems to be able to explain it in logical words. Before the ball is snapped, some players on the offense try to fake out the defense to trick them into moving before the offense puts the ball into play. I think.
Kickoff: Used at the start of the game, halftime or after a score. One teams kicks the football off of a tee at their own 30-yard line as hard as they can. The other team catches it and tries to run it back as far as they can!
Punt: Aka a drop-kick. Not kicked from a tee like the kick-off. Here, the kicker drops the ball to his own foot and kicks it as hard as he can down the field to make the players chase after it. (Next time you are "threatening" someone, instead of saying "I'm going to drop-kick your a$$," try "I'm going to punt you." See if it intimidates!)
Flag or yellow flag: A lot of times you see the officials throwing something yellow on the field and hear the announcers say "a flag on the play." Uh huh, sure. It's just a fancy way of calling it a foul or saying one of the players did something wrong. Then the officials usually give an explanation like holding or false start or something else no one understands :)
Blitz: When the defense rushes against the snap. Yeah, see what I mean: the definitions are often as ambiguous as the term itself. As soon as the ball is snapped and not even in the QB's hands, the defense rushes forward hoping to take down the QB. What the difference is between this and a regular play....no idea
Sack: When the QB is tackled before he passes the ball off to someone else, behind the line of scrimmage. Wherever he was taken down, that's where the offense has to start their next play. What this means: the offensive team now has farther to go for their first down.
Tackle: When a defensive player hurls his body against the player from the other team carrying the ball and knocks him to the ground to end the play.
Blocking: Unlike tackling, this is used against the defensive players to try to stop them from getting to the guy carrying the football
Holding: Is the bad way of blocking and tackling. Apparently, you are not allowed to hold other players even though they are trying to kill the guy carrying the football. Go figure. There is offensive and defensive holding which we will get into later. In short, it's holding onto the opponents jersey or hooking around a body part...I don't know. Just plain weird.
And there's part I. Feel free to correct me or give me better definitions! I would really really appreciate it! And stay tuned for Part II!