The 20 Worst Football Clichés

Justin Goar@@tigertangentsSenior Writer IAugust 5, 2008

Clichés don’t really bother me, perhaps because I’ve gotten used to them or just tune them out.  I think some people absorb things a little too literally—and football and literal analogies just don’t mix.

But at least I can have some fun picking these clichés apart in the meantime until the season starts, can’t I?  (I’ve peppered in real college football last names in order to make you feel more at home.)

20) “We have to take it one game at a time.”

Great advice!  I wouldn’t recommend playing two games at once. I’m no football wizard, but 22 guys on defense may slow your offense down a bit, coach.

19) “Crabtree makes a circus catch.”

I can’t tell you how many times I went to the circus as a child.  I loved the clowns the most.  The trapeze artists were probably my second favorite, and wide receivers catching badly-thrown footballs rounded out the list.

18) “The other team just wanted it more.”

It’s a shame that we practice football skills.  We should practice “wanting” skills if that’s what determines the outcome of a game.  I think the height of my “wanting” career was back when I was about 11 and wanted an ice cream sandwich three days before the Schwan’s guy was supposed to come by.  That was a long three days—but I assure you, I wanted it more than most.

In fact, now is a great time to pay homage to the best “wanter” of all time—Little Ralphie Parker back in the 1940s.  That dude wanted a Red Rider BB Gun really bad.  If there was a Hall of Fame for wanting, Ralphie would be the very first inductee despite shooting his eye out.

17) “They left it all on the field.”

That would totally suck for the field crew after the game.

Uhhh, can someone please come down to the field and pick up 110 jock straps, please?

16) “He’s deceptively quick.”

I’m a deceptively good-looking genius.  Also, I used to be deceptively slow—now I’m just obviously slow.

15) “McCoy’s going to feel that one in the morning.”

Well, I think the fact that he’s rolling around on the ground clutching his head with his face contorted in a painful grimace means he’s probably feeling it pretty well right now.

14) “They are better than their record indicates.”

This is used by announcers who are trying to say, “Please don’t change the channel,” and by coaches who are trying to say, “Do NOT come out flat against these pansies.”

13) “He has a motor that won’t quit.”

I like to call this the David Pollock cliché.  Hey, did you know that he played pee wee football with QB David Greene?  Did you know Hermann Johnson was the biggest baby born in Louisiana?  Did you know Tim Tebow was home schooled where he learned how to save foreign infants from starvation?

Why no, I haven’t watched college football at all in the last few minutes—thanks for the info, college football announcer guy!!

12) He really gives 110 percent.

No, he REALLY doesn’t.  Why not 105 percent or 115 percent?  It’s physically impossible to give over 100 percent.  So why not 150 percent?  Why is 10 percent over 100 the arbitrary number we pick when someone gives it their all?  Basically 110 percent has become the new 100 percent.  So in all probability this cliché isn’t going anywhere.  From now on I’m just going to say, “He gave 115 percent”...due to inflation.

11) “There seemed to be a miscommunication on that play.”

See ladies, it’s not just you.  It happens with other men too.

10) “We have to play a full 60 minutes.”

No, you have to play like three and half hours minus TV timeouts, halftime, and the occasional stoppage for a drunk skinny naked guy running onto the field who apparently can’t say no to a dare.

9) “Boeckman would like to have that one back.”

Yeah, I have a list of things I’d like to take back as well.

1) Trying baking chocolate thinking it was real chocolate when I was eight.

2) Seeing the movie King Ralph starring John Goodman in the theaters.

3) Three words: convenience store burrito.

I have 94 other ones—how much time does everyone have?

8) “They have to take care of the football.”

It’s true.  I’ll never forget the first time a Duke Jr. football followed me home after school one day.  I asked my mom if I could keep it.  She said yes on the stipulation that I had to take care of it.  I did for a while, but honestly, after a few months, my dad ended up feeding it and walking it.

Then about a year later, after an errant pass in a game of three-flies-in, the ball jumped out in front of a car.  There was nothing the driver could’ve done.

Soon after, my parents bought me a Voit to help ease the grieving process.

7) “This Mountaineer defense is going to ‘pin their ears back’ on this next play.”

Why would anyone pin their ears back?  Is it because they have big ears and they are afraid that they won’t get asked to the Barn Hill Dance?  Maybe it’s time to teach that defense about self-esteem and the fact that you just have to be happy with who you are on the inside.

6) “He has a quick first step.”

After that, he stops cold out of sheer terror.  He was first team All-Freeze Tag back in third grade.

5) “The Sooner defense bends but doesn’t break.”

I am so guilty of this one.  I’ll try to do better.  Please offer me alternatives.  What about this defense teases but doesn’t put out?

Too racy?

4) “This QB is a real gunslinger.”

I’m pretty sure that’s illegal.  Billy Blanks tried that in the beginning of The Last Boy Scout, and even though he scored I’m pretty sure there was a flag or two on the play.  Unless, of course, the game was played at Auburn.

3) “Arenas is a downhill runner.”

Now that’s just unfair.  What a home field advantage that would be!  A stadium with a hill at midfield or at the goal line.  Of course, that would justify, ”It’s an uphill battle.”

I would love to see a strong safety get a downhill running start at a WR and knock him 30 yards down an incline.  Thank goodness for forward progress, eh?

2) “Sanchez has all day to throw it.”

If the opposing team has all day to throw it, then might I suggest a different defensive strategy?  In fact, I think it would be awesome if one day an announcer got very literal with this one.

“Man, Verne, Snead seemed to have like eight seconds in the pocket on that play.  Maybe it was closer to seven, but it sure seemed like a long time.  Well, not a long time relatively speaking, but in football pocket passing terms a long time.”

My favorite variation of this is, “Stafford has all the time in the world.”

Whoa, is he immortal or something?  I’d be texting my friends, “Gary Danielson just said Matthew Stafford is a Highlander.”

1) “That guy’s a throwback.”

Usually referred to when talking about slow white guys who try really hard.  You know, the kind of guy that “brings his lunch pail” to work every day.

I promise you, this guy is not a throwback unless he plays without a facemask, protective padding, and with a half-torn ACL.  If this guy makes it to the NFL and accepts a 1970s NFL salary, then fine, that guy can be a throwback.

I’m probably leaving a good 50 or so off the list, but I did my best and gave it 115 percent.  I tried to play within myself and bring my A game (doh, missed a couple).

What are some of yours?


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