Sunday, December 22, 2013

Practice Safe Ball

We here we are at the last few positions of the defense. We are talking cornerbacks and safeties (CB and FS SS). These two are the deepest positions on the field. What that means is that they usually line up much farther back from the line of scrimmage than the other defensive players. Sometimes they aren’t even visible on TV because of how far back they are. These are the players that make up the “secondary”. Secondary means the group of players that usually defend the pass plays.

The cornerback is the player that defends against the wide receiver. They are fast, lean and a special kind of competitive. Corners line up behind the linebackers. When the ball is snapped, these are the defenders that we see running alongside the wide receivers. They have a special love for intercepting the football. Some are so good at intercepting that opposing offenses will not even try to pass to their side. If they can’t intercept the ball, they try to bat it away or run the wide receiver out of bounds. Most of these match ups will happen very close to the side lines. That is very intentional by the defense because they are trying to make the space very small for the wide receivers. The less space they have to make a play, the more opportunities for the corner to make a play and the harder it is for a quarterback to get the ball to their player. These guys have to be mentally tough as well. They are the defenders that are beat when a wide receiver makes a great catch. All eyes are upon them (kind of like the Eye of Sauron from Lord of the Rings) when a deeply thrown ball is caught by the receiver. They have to get back up and defend again, because if the offense is successful at that once, then they will try it again. So the corner has to shake it off and do it again.

The last line of defense are the positions that are called safeties. I have always found that name ironic. There is nothing safe about a safety, it would be more accurate to be called “un-safeties”. One of the things that the safeties do is hang back and watch the play unfold. They will then adjust to whatever the play is. There are two types of safeties, the free safety and the strong safety. The strong safety is a generally a little bigger than the free safety. He lines up a little closer to the line backers (a little closer to the line of scrimmage) and has a bigger part in the rushing defense. The free safety lines up deeper and has a bigger part in the passing defense. Both players are expected to be great tacklers because if the offense gets past them, it’s pretty much over; the offense will score. Safeties are another position that loves to be challenged. They look forward to the contact and conflict that comes with the game.

It seems that the farther away a player lines up from the line of scrimmage the more contentious they are. They thrive on the collective hate that opposing offenses direct their way. They are the antithesis of a people pleaser unless they are on your team’s defense. If you are wondering what I am talking about watch corners Richard Sherman or Lester Hayes (retired). Also ask about Earl Thomas and Jairus Byrd ( if anything, your loved ones will be so impressed that you know those names).

Happy watching! And Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Crazy-eyed Dancers

Well on to our next position group.  Last week we talked about the defense that directly lined up on the line of scrimmage.  This week we will look at the defense that usually defends the middle of the field.  They are the linebackers. (See the LB in chart below)  Most of the time, the linebackers are the most recognizable figures on the defense.  Think of Ray Lewis and Lawrence Taylor.  Have I lost you yet?  Think of the craziest characters on a defense.  The men who wear eye-black down their cheeks to their chins.  They scream, make up wild dances in the pre-game, wild dances if they sack the quarterback, wild dances if they intercept the ball and they dance wildly post-game.  They tend to have a half-crazed looks to their eyes.  And although they might not make your top prospects in dating your daughter, they should be first on the list for leaders on your defense. 
The linebackers usually line up a few yards back of the line of scrimmage, behind the defensive ends and the tackles.  There are three different types of linebackers.  They are the middle, strong side, and weak side linebackers.  The middle linebacker is the best known position.  The middle linebacker is also known as the Mike linebacker.  This position’s job description includes lining up opposite the offense’s center but off the line of scrimmage about 3 or 4 yards.  He is also known as the “quarterback” of the defense because is the one who directs the defense with play calls.  During the play, he is responsible for the middle of the field action, or in other words, stopping the action.  His assignment usually includes stopping the quarterback and/or the running back. 
Another linebacker is the strong side linebacker or the Sam linebacker.  If you remember a few blogs back, the strong side of the line of scrimmage is the side where the tight end lines up.  It is called “strong” because there is an extra man (the tight end).  The Sam linebacker lines up wherever the tight end on the offense lines up.  His job description is to make the tight end’s life miserable. If the play isn’t going to include the tight end then the Sam linebacker goes after the quarterback or the running back.  The Sam linebacker is usually a little bigger than the other linebackers because the tight ends tend to be bigger football players.
The other linebacker is the weak side linebacker or the Will linebacker.  The term “weak side” in no way describes him; it only describes the side of the line of scrimmage without the extra man.  That is the side of the line of scrimmage that he lines up against.   His job description is a little more varied as he usually isn’t assigned to a specific player.  Depending on the defensive call he either drops back for a passing play or tries to sack the quarterback.  The Will linebacker is usually a little smaller than the Sam linebacker but quicker and more agile in order to have an easier time adjusting to the play.
I am not sure where the nicknames came from.  The educated guesses infer that it is easier to call “Mike, Sam or Will” in the huddle than “middle, strong side or weak side”.  My own imagination thinks that no one wants to call a professional football player “weak” and so in a very impartial decision, they decided to rename all of them.  Then there is the very real threat of being pummeled  by a furious weak side line backer followed by wild dancing.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A-Gap Blintze

We have been focusing on the offense this entire time but now we will start with the defense. To refresh your memory: The main focus that the offense has is to get down the field and score. So that means the main job of the defense is to keep the offense from gaining yards and scoring. Not only do they want to stop the offenses from scoring, but they also strive to push the offense backwards, and better yet, if they can get the ball away and score it’s a huge achievement. Now with the defense, you will hear names like linebackers, tackles, ends, corners and safeties. But don’t be fooled. There is nothing safe about safeties, and cornerbacks do not stay in any, they are all over the field. Other terms like zone, blitz, sack, and Cover2 are also thrown around. And, no, they are not regions that we hear about in geography, a misspelled Jewish delicacy, our grocery bag or how many blankets we need on our bed now that winter is upon us.

We are going to start with the group of players that line up opposing the offensive line. These are known as the defensive linemen. There are two types of players that make up these linemen. The first group is the defensive tackles. There are two tackles on defense and they line up next to each other (see the red “X’s”) . These players are some of the biggest men on the team. They are huge and fast. They are crucial to stopping the running back by closing up any “holes” or “gaps” on the inside. If they don’t tackle the running back they try to force him into look for other avenues to get down field and buy time so the linebackers to come up and tackle them for little to no gain. The other job they have is to push the offensive guards into the quarterback if the offense is attempting a passing play. Why is that important? What happens is that the quarterback gets a little bit of security called a “pocket” (not to be confused with the rhinestone ones we have on our favorite pair of jeans) this pocket doesn’t last long but gives the quarterback some time to set up a pass play. This is guarded by the offensive tackles and guards but the defensive tackles and linebackers want to “collapse” the pocket to either force a “sack” (QB tackled behind line of scrimmage for a loss) or a hurried pass that either results in an incomplete pass( no one catches it and it results in a loss of down), or an interception ( the defense catches the ball resulting in a defensive score or a loss of possession for the offense). Defensive tackles have a lot to think about in that very short amount of time that it takes to line up. Although, the defense usually knows its assignment before the ball is snapped, they have to make adjustments on the fly. Terms like “A-Gap” and “3-Technique” or variations of those are used when talking about the way the defensive tackles play their assignments. You can really stop stun the football crowd if you say something like, “It looks like that tackle was using a 3-Technique in the A-Gap on the last play.” Expect utter silence and blank stares.

The next group is the defensive ends. There are two ends that line up on each side of the defensive tackles but are usually farther away. These guys do not have to worry so much about which gap to run through or how to out-maneuver the offensive guards. Their name give them away - ends. If the offense is running the ball, they try to keep the running back from getting around them on the “outside” (close to the edge of the field). They want to keep the running back in the middle of the field where the linebackers or safeties can tackle them for little to no gain. If it is a passing play, they run in at the quarterbacks from the outside and try to sack them. They usually have more opportunity to bat the ball down or creating a turnover. These are usually the players that we see celebrating a sack with a dance that is pretty uncomfortable to witness if you’re in a mixed crowd.

So go get ‘em this week! Begin to use your new-found football knowledge on those family and friends who might have given up hope that you would ever share in their fandom. See you next time!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

All Guts And None Of The Glamour

I have heard it said if national defense is done right, we will never hear of it. But if they do it wrong, we all know. It is the same for these next two position groups. These men that make up the most anonymous and non-glamorous positions are called the tackles and the guards on the offensive line. When they are doing it right, then we (as casual fans) will hear accolades about the great passing ability of the quarterback and how much time he has to find an open receiver. Or we will hear about the keen ability of the running back to find those “open holes” and run up field. But if these linemen do their job incorrectly… then, we will know who they are.

First we will talk about guards. There are two guards on the line. They line up on each side of the center. One of their jobs is to keep the defense from get into the backfield. If the defense can’t get into the backfield they can’t sack the quarterback or tackle a running back for a loss of yards on the play. Their other jobs vary from play to play; if it is a passing play, they try to form a wall around the quarterback in order for him to have a few seconds of time to find an open receiver. If it is a running play, then they try to bowl over the defenders in order to open up “holes” for the running back to pop through. These men need to be large, strong and fast. Large to be able to absorb the punishment meant for the players in the backfield, strong in order to send those defenders backwards on running plays and fast to be able to adjust to the constant changes that occur in the course of the game.

Lining up next to them are the offensive tackles. When I studied the tackle positions, it seemed to me that the job description more accurately described a form of punishment. These men have to control a large amount of open field and usually defending against much leaner, faster, stronger defenders coming from anywhere in that open field. These defenders have one thing in mind; they are zeroing in on the quarterback or the running back. Tackles are usually the largest men on the offense, and yet they are required to be as fast and as strong as those they are blocking.

The tackle that lines up on the right side, or right tackle, usually has a tight end that also lines up with them. The right tackle usually has the responsibility of blocking the biggest defender, so having another comrade on the line is a bonus.

If you have ever seen The Blind Side (and if you haven’t, you need to) the character that Sandra Bullock plays gives an excellent description of the left tackle. The left tackle has a unique duty. In the NFL, there is only one starting quarterback that is left-handed (Michael Vick, and he’s injured at this time). Why is that important? When a right-handed quarterback is getting ready to throw, his back will more than likely be towards the left side, his blind side. He needs absolute trust that his left tackle will stop or delay a defensive player coming at him from that side. It is also mentioned that the left tackle is usually the second highest paid player on the team, using the beautiful analogy of the quarterback being compared to a house and the left tackle to the house insurance.

Both of these groups, the guards and the tackles, have to figure out how to stop the defense without grabbing and holding on to the player or their jersey. If they grab hold of it and are caught they are called for a holding penalty. You know, one of those times when the ref throws that pretty yellow flag? (BTW – Why is it yellow? Yellow reminds us of happy things, and I guarantee you that half of the men on the field are not experiencing happiness when a flag is thrown. I think they should change the flag to a strobing red siren. That would be more compatible with the circumstance). As I did a little more studying on these positions this week , what I have found out makes me much more compassionate to the plight of a offensive lineman when a holding penalty is called. In fact, I would like to petition the NFL to allow them whips and chairs.

These four, undistinguished, unspectacular positions hold the key to success for all offenses in the NFL. For whoever wins on the line of scrimmage will win the game. Have a great week!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

As Good As Fred and Ginger

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Lewis and Clark, Rolls Royce, Bob Hope and Bing Cosby. These are a few of some very famous partnerships. There are so many of these in history, politics, products and entertainment. Partnerships can be such a part of our world that it is hard to think of them as separate. Can you imagine Proctor without Gamble or Smith without Wesson? These partnerships all have something in common: They are successful, and profitable.

Even though these partnerships are not nearly as famous, as I studied about the center position, I am more and more convinced that the center and the quarterback are perfect partners. Besides the quarterback, there is no other player that needs to have as much knowledge of the offensive playbook as the center. There has to be perfect timing between the quarterback and the center (we will get into why later). And he needs to know the defense they are up against so well that he is able identify what they are going to do by the way the enemy lines up. This is necessary in order to successfully block for the quarterback and offense.

As the name implies, centers are positioned in the middle of the offensive line. The line consists of a center, two guards and two tackles. The “line” I am talking about are the big (and I mean BIG) guys that make up the dense part of the line of scrimmage, right in front of the quarterback. The center observes how the defense lines up then gets the information to the rest of the line so they can adjust their blocking if needed. While he is making these observations and adjustments, he is getting ready to snap the ball: The center is the first player to touch the ball on each play. He stands over the ball with one hand on it, listens to the snap count of the quarterback and then shuttles or tosses the ball back to him at the precise time. Immediately his job description changes from ball hiker to blocker, because once the ball begins to move there will be enormous angry defenders blasting over the line, zeroing in on the quarterback in order to sack him behind the line of scrimmage (if unable to get a sack they want to make him nervous enough to start interrupting his rhythm). So, the center’s main priority instantaneously becomes protector of the quarterback. Oh yeah, all this is done in less than 24 seconds.

The typical center in the NFL averages about 6’4” and 303lbs. Believe it or not, they are usually lighter than the other linemen. As big as these players are they are typically not well known public. Since all attention is on the ball and where it ends up, the players that handle the ball are usually better known than those on the line. But lack of popularity in no way means lack of importance. Even though we (meaning typical fans) notice when players with names like Aaron Rogers, Adrian Peterson or Andrew Luck are injured, injuries to the likes of Mike Pouncey, John Sullivan or Max Unger are even more distressing for teams. If these centers get injured it directly effects the play of the quarterback and the running backs. There is great concern within the team and those fans that follow football closely when the center or any of the men on the offensive line get injured.

So go celebrate the unsung partnerships this weekend. When you’re cheering for Russell Wilson, make sure to thank Max Unger. Or if you’re cheering for Ryan Tannehill, give a little plug for Mike Pouncey. It will impress those watching the game with you as well.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


This conversation between my husband and me happened earlier this week:

Me: “I can’t do this. This is so wrong. It just isn’t natural.”
Phillip: “Yes you can, you’re a strong woman. You can face anything.”
Me: “No one warned me that I might have to face this one day…it happened so suddenly. I’m not ready to do it.”
Phillip: “You just need to do it. As they say, ‘Sometimes you just have to rip the band aid off’.”
Me: “I can’t. You need to do it for me.”

Phillip sighs, reaches over to the computer I’m sitting in front of and hits the submit button. And just like that, I drop the second pick in my fantasy draft, Julio Jones, a wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons. If you ever play fantasy football, you’ll understand the agony of dropping a player that you’re relying on for the season. He suffered a season-ending injury last week and so, as a fantasy team owner, I suffer with him.

It was a timely issue considering I was going to spend some time writing to you about receivers. This is the last group of players who are technically, but not exclusively, responsible for advancing the football by way of catching passes from the QB. You can find these players can under different names like wide receivers, slot receivers, or split ends. These names are derived from where the player lines up on the line of scrimmage. For instance, the tight end (yes, I’m still snickering about the name, and yes, I’m immature) lines up tight against the offensive line (the big men in front of the QB). The split end usually lines up on the opposite side of the tight end but a little farther away from the offensive line. So they are split away from the main part of the “O” line. The wide receiver is lined up even farther away from the offensive line, hence the description of “wide”.

Like every other position, there is much more to it than just catching a ball. Receivers need to run in a certain pre-determined pattern called a “route”. These routes are studied and practiced over and over by the receiver and the quarterback in order that in a game there is no guessing where the receiver will end up on a certain play call. In almost all cases the quarterback will throw the ball before the receiver arrives at the place where the ball will end up. These routes need to be timed perfectly or disaster can happen, like an interception (where a defensive player catches the ball). Over the years there have been many quarterback/wide receiver partnerships that played perfectly together. We have heard of Joe Montana (QB) and Jerry Rice (WR) in the 80’s and today we have Matthew Stafford (QB) and Calvin Johnson (WR) to name very few. When they are not responsible for catching the ball, receivers are needed to be a decoy and/or help block. This means that they run their routes as though they are going to be the one to get the ball in order to fool the defense to go after them. The other option is they block the defender that they are assigned to in order to help the running back find a lane to run through or another receiver to catch the ball.

Receivers are usually among the most lean and quickest players on a team. They need to be in order to do what is demanded of them. Take Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions, this quiet, hard working receiver is larger than an average NFL receiver (if there is such a thing in the NFL as average) at 6’5” and 236 lbs ( He runs a 40 yard dash in 4.3 seconds (point of reference – I run the forty yard dash in…never, I don’t run), so speed is a highly coveted trait, another skill is the ability to jump vertically (43.5 inch vertical was reported in 2012 – A receiver needs great hands, what does that mean? It means they have to be able to be pliable enough to catch a ball that is thrown at such a velocity that it can easily bounce off the hands and yet they have to be tough enough to hold on as defenders start beating at the ball in order to force a turnover. Running the routes accurately is an absolute since the QB depends on them. And continuing to run for more yards after catching the ball is another skill that teams search for.

These highly skilled and hard working players make up another facet of the offense that gives us so many wonderful plays on the highlight reels. They are acrobatic, fierce, fearless and incredibly tough.

Next time, we start on the offensive line. Happy FB watching!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Jane Fonda and the Escape Artists

Here we are in the fifth week of the NFL football season. We are still talking about offensive positions on the field. But I have to ask you a question: When you hear the term “tight end” what do you think of? I will tell you what comes to mind every time I hear of it…never fails. I think of Jane Fonda and my 25 year attempt at having one. A tight end, not a Jane Fonda. I remember starting a work-out regimen with Jane Fonda decades ago, since then it has evolved from Jane to the Firm to Beachbody, not that I am any closer to achieving my own tight end. Although I have consistently and effectively developed a distaste for each workout guru. Since this isn’t about my personal issues but about helping you develop a point of reference during the long, cold months of football season, I will carry on. The position of tight end isn’t about my personal desire for one but about a very crucial position in the offense.

The role of tight end has taken on more and more importance over the years. Most teams will have one of these players on the field although some teams will use two. These players typically line up along the line of scrimmage, next to the tackle (that’s a person not a verb). Tight ends (sorry, I chuckle every time I type that) have to be very skilled at two crucial talents, blocking and catching. They have the extremely difficult task of blocking for the running back (run-blocking), blocking for the quarterback to pass (pass-blocking) or making sure they get open for a pass. They catch the passes in the mid field range for less yards than what the wide receivers usually catch. They need to be skilled at multi-tasking. Many times the catch will come after they have initially blocked a defender. Not only do they need to be a multi-tasker, they also need to be the escape artist for their QB. They are usually the first player that the QB looks for if they are in trouble and need to get rid of the football. A very large amount of third down plays are directed to the tight end as a passing play, which showcases their escape artist talents.

Most tight ends are larger size than running backs but smaller than the other players on the offensive line. Two of the most notable tight ends in the NFL right now are Tony Gonzales and Jimmy Graham. Interestingly enough, both men have their athletic roots in basketball. Tony Gonzales who is 37 years old (remember football-years are like dog-years), 6’5” and 247lbs played collegiate basketball with UC Berkley and also on Miami Heat practice squad ( Jimmy Graham, 6’7” and 265lbs also played basketball for the University of Miami for four years. He stayed after the four years of college to take graduate classes and he played football for a season ( Tony Gonzales was expected to retire after the season ended last year but came back to play one more season after he got the blessing from his children. Jimmy Graham is just beginning his NFL career in New Orleans; this is his 4th season. He graduated the University of Miami with a double major in marketing and management after overcoming a very tough childhood where he suffered neglect, abandonment and physical abuse. He is now one of the best tight ends in the NFL and one of the biggest inspirations to anyone.

So within the offense we have the family matrons (QB’s), the Tasmanian devils (RB’s) and the multi-tasking escape artists. Now isn’t this making more sense? Happy football watching!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Backfield Marsupials

Last time, I wrote about the quarterback, the most visible football player on the team. The next one to discuss is the running back. Besides the quarterback, this is usually the only other position that lines up in the backfield prior to the ball being snapped (the play starting). All the other players are required to line up on the “line of scrimmage” (imaginary line that runs the entire width of the field at which both teams line up, facing each other before ball is snapped).

The purpose of the running back is to run with the football, preferably to the end zone to score a touchdown. As simplistic as that might sound, it is a lot more complicated than that. The game of football has become a science of strategy and thinking outside of the box and this position isn’t just about fast runners. In fact, speed might not even be the top factor in getting a running back. As I compared quarterbacks to family matrons last week, running backs need to have a bit of Tasmanian devil in them. They should embody the chaos, unpredictability and fearlessness of our childhood cartoon. Running backs are ideally a bit shorter than the average NFL player, the reason being: a lower center of gravity (makes them harder to bring down). They have monstrous thighs in order to help them break tackles (gain yards even if they get hit by a defender). Speed is still a very important skill for the running back, although most of the speed comes in quick, short bursts. Vision, meaning that the running back needs to see and predict how the players will move while the play unfolds. That way, the running back can predict if a hole opens up for him to get a running lane for a few more yards. They have to have strong hands. Defenses are trained to not only tackle a player but to viciously swipe down on the ball as they tackle to force a fumble. Running backs are trained to hold the ball in the most extreme of situations. Another thing that they are expected to have is durability. The average amount of yards that the top 49 NFL running backs get every time they run the ball is 4.6 yards ( In other words, they run the ball 13.8 feet on average. In those 13.8 feet, chaos erupts. Defenses want to tear the ball from their hands, tear their heads from their necks, and tear their will to live from their hearts. Instead of avoiding this type of attention, the running back looks for it and helps create it.

When it comes to Tasmanian devil mentality, the running back that comes to mind is Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks (for those of you who are not Seahawk fans, I apologize for the amount of times they will be used in my blogs. They are my home team and the personnel that I know the best). Nicknamed “Beast Mode”, it probably comes as no surprise that he is a running back that welcomes violence. One of his best known runs came in Jan 2011 in a playoff win over New Orleans. As he ran, he stiff armed opponents and shoved another one into the ground before he scored. In another game, he was flagged for a personal foul for deliberately lowering his head and plowing down a 49er defender. Even as my family and I watched a recent Seahawk game, we just had to shrug our shoulders as he chose to sacrifice some extra yards on a carry in order to turn right and hit a Jacksonville defender.

So up to this point, we have talked about the matrons of the family and Tasmanian devils. Next week, we will meet more positions of the offense and see what transpires from there! Happy football watching!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

If Momma Ain't Happy...

In the next few segments, I will be talking about offense, defense and certain positions on the field. There are 22 players on the field at all times; 11 for each team. During a regular “drive” of the game there are two teams; an offense and a defense. The other part of the game involves a group of players called special teams, which are exciting but don’t stay on the field long (we will eventually touch on them as well). The offense is the group of 11 players that has possession of the ball. Their aim is to take the ball down the field and make points. The defense’s aim is to keep the opposing team’s offense from scoring; the ideal scenario for the defense would be to take the ball away by means of a turnover (fumble or interception) and either score for their team or get the ball back to their offense. Now that technical jargon is out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff.

The offense and the defense makes up the majority action of the chess match that we talked about last week. Within each of these teams are different positions with different responsibilities. Each player will respond to those responsibilities differently according to their physical abilities, personalities and how they’re coached. On offense, arguably the most important position is the quarterback. The quarterback is the one on the offense who calls the plays (usually dictated by the coaching staff), takes the football once it’s snapped and either hands it off to a runningback or passes it to a receiver. He can also run with the ball, most quarterbacks have some kind of scrambling ability (aside from a few teams, most try to keep the QB from doing a lot of running). The NFL has been referenced as a “Quarterback driven league”. What does this mean? The team is only as good or as bad as the quarterback. You can refer to the QB as the matron of the family, and “if Momma ain't happy, ain’t nobody happy”. Just like there are matrons who run their families with wisdom and love (June Cleaver or Clair Huxtable), so there are QB’s who run their offense with intelligence and skill. We have had some excellent examples already this season.

In the very first game of the regular NFL season on Sept 5th, Peyton Manning, the QB for the Denver Broncos masterfully guided his team to defeat the reigning Superbowl champion Baltimore Ravens. He threw for seven touchdowns and had the highest rating for a QB he has ever had (we will touch on QB ratings later). The human element comes to play, when you realize he is the oldest QB in the league, at 37 years old. In football-years , which are similar to dog years, Mr. Manning would be about 259 years old. If that wasn’t enough, he had three or four neck surgeries ending in 2011 that made him sit out an entire season. The heroic effort it took for him to come back from such critical surgeries cannot be fully appreciated from a distance, it is a next to impossible accomplishment. As I sat with my husband watching the warm ups to that first game, I remarked to him how awkward Peyton Manning looked. Things like, “His helmet looks too small.” “Look how awkward he runs” “He’s old…” My husband just smiled and said nothing. After the game, he remarked almost under his breath “Yeah, he was really awkward wasn’t he?”

Now just like there are the much beloved matrons like Clair Huxtable or Marion Cunningham, there is the other extreme. You might have Marie Barone or Peggy Bundy to deal with. Take, for instance, this past Thursday Night Football game. Although the New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is one of the best in the league and ended up winning the game, he had a tough game in which he threw tantrums as well as footballs. On the human side of things, the Patriots have had more than their share of off season trouble. Everything from contract troubles, injuries and a highly publicized arrest in which the former teammate is on trial for murder. Because of all of that, the offence has been drastically reduced, which has resulted in a lack of veteran offensive players for Tom Brady to throw to. The stress of playing with very young players, whose on-the-job training included a nationally televised football game, released his “inner yenta” where his anger made headlines. After the game, he addressed his behavior remarking that he needs to improve his body language, and might I offer this suggestion: his potty-mouth.

There are only 32 starting NFL quarterbacks in the world. Their skills and talents make them very unique and the pressure that is placed on them every week in the football season makes them very special. It is hard to come up with a time when the quarterback has not been the central person on the offense. And although I will never be in the club, I am sure that most of them would rather be compared to Clint Eastwood than Marie Barone.

Happy football watching!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Why Do I Love This?

As I watched the first football game of the 2013 NFL season, I realized that I might be one of three friends who would be switching their schedule around in order to be able to watch the game in its entirety. This blog is not intended for my dear friends who are my pigskin-soulmates, I am writing to all my other wonderful friends who are mystified as to why I love the game so much. I will attempt to explain the game in a way that will help you find the veiwing enjoyment that I have. I am unsure of main reason why I love the game of football. I have to say that I love the allegiance that comes from rooting for a team. I enjoy the escape it gives me from the ovewhelming pressures of reality. Yet it is the ultimate reality TV show with no worries of it being scripted.

I grew up watching the game with my father, and during the tumultuous teen years (mine not my father's), it became the one topic of conversation that didn't result in a yelling match. In my younger years, my mother taught me the basic premise of game and after a while my father taught me to watch the little nuances of the match-ups. I soon found myself engrossed in the violent chess match that describes the strategy of football. Each player on the field is like a chess piece pondered over by the coaching staff; they are brought in to shore up weaknesses on the team, moved around to answer another team's strength, the opposing chess pieces are studied in the hopes of finding a way to stop them. The difference of these chess pieces compared to the board pieces are they aren't quiet, they sweat, can weigh over 300 lbs, make Gatorade commercials and can collect $120 million over 4 years (see QB Joe Flacco of Ravens).

The goal of the game is to win by putting up more points that the opponent. There are more than a few ways to score points; there is a touchdown that equals 6 points, extra point after a touchdown which equals one point, 2 point conversion after a touchdown, a field goal which equals 3 points and a safety which equals 2 points. Field goals and safeties are ways of scoring points without being contingent on a touchdown. The teams have to use these methods or a combination of them in order to attempt to score the most points to win.

I realize that most have the basic premsie and scoring understood, but it is the less understood rules and less known strategies that make football fascinating. In the next days and weeks, my hope is that I can help you gain a new appreciation and enjoyment for the game that has become the newest national pastime.