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 (jockbio.com). 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 (thejimmygraham.com). 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!