My Side: Football’s language: Cliche or jargon?
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
With the first full weekend of the football season under our belts, I got out Andy Griffith’s famous “Football Story,” first broadcast in 1953, just to remind myself of what fun he had with football in those days.
He starts by describing a football field as a green cow pasture with white lines, then refers to the coin toss as the men going “odd man” for a “funny lookin’ pumpkin” that “they couldn’t eat ’cause they kicked it the whole evening and it never busted.”
He concludes that it was “some kind of contest where they see which bunchful of them can take that pumpkin an’ run from one end of that cow pasture to the other without either getting’ knocked down or … steppin’ in somethin.'”
Then I tried to imagine what he would say if he could hear today’s announcers at a football game.
Coaches try to be “great creators on offense” by “getting the back into space.” Getting the back into space is easier if he can “run to daylight” (or have someone “escort him to daylight”) and has “great ability to move his feet.”
Moving his feet comes with “having great wheels.” The challenge arises because they have “a long field” at one moment, and, at the next, “the field is shrinking” (is this Wonderland, Alice?).
Of course, if there is “no quit in this guy,” if he has a “relentless motor,” if he has “lots of gas left in his tank,” if he can “run behind his pads” and can “run the ball for four quarters,” he has a chance to “go to the house” and “be a football player.” “And that’s the key.”
Now that’s only the running backs. But “you’d better have a quarterback in this league” who can “play the game with his eyes,” “focus on his keys,” and “move the ball up and down the field.” It also helps that he “have a short memory,” possess a “great feeling of space” and “a clock in his head” so he can “pull the trigger” to “deliver the ball with velocity” and “make plays down the field” with “good success.”
Receivers are an important part of the quarterback’s success or failure. Receivers with “soft hands” “go north to south” as well as “downhill” and “vertical” and they “can run and catch,” “have great hands,” know how to “create separation,” find a “tight window” and “see the pass beautifully.” Such a receiver will “go right toward the endzone” and is a “great weapon to have in your clubhouse.”
No team, however, will let the opposing team’s offense run wild. They will “load the box,” “lay the lumber,” “play with leverage” and “come with pressure.”
Not only does the defense “have to show up,” they often “get lathered up for the game.” They play such “physical football,” that they occasionally “squeeze the air out of the football” and never have “poor pad level” or a “soft corner.” Even if they’re “playing with a bad wheel” (see running backs, above), you know “they have to step up” and “finish tackles.”
At the end of the game, the victors can say that it “looked like dominance” and that they “didn’t leave plays on the field.”
The coaches will be hailed as “great students of the game” who “dialed up the right plays” and “did a great job of preparing the team.” Someone will, of course, be “one of the great stories of the game” because “he’s a warrior” who “made plays on the football.”
And the announcers will go home and re-read their Thesauruses.
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