Wednesday Wordplay: Game On

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Now that I'm officially moved in with my boyfriend, I watched a lot of football this year. Raised in the steel city, I'm a 'lers fan. But, living in Wisconsin for over 3 years now, the Packers have admittedly grown on me. Let's face it, any team symbolized by an enormous cheese-shaped hat can't be that bad. So, I decided to round up some football terms that initially tripped me up for this week's Wednesday Wordplay. That way, even if you aren't a football fan, you can still go forth to playoff/Super Bowl parties emboldened with sports jargon knowledge. It's worth going for the buffalo chicken dip and guac, trust me.

Pick 6 - This term apparently also has lottery and horse racing implications, but let's ignore those. A "pick"in football is the exact same thing as an interception (aka a turnover when the defense catches a pass thrown by the quarterback). My whole childhood, everyone said "interception." I, personally, said "intersection" - but I was close. Then, suddenly and inexplicably, everyone around me started calling them "picks." Picks to me are synonymous with screens in basketball, which have nothing to do with catching or defense. Alas. A pick 6 is an interception that is returned by the defense for a touchdown (which is worth 6 points.)

Wide Out - This is the exact same thing as "wide receiver." It's an offensive position. They essentially run routes and try to catch passes. WHY they need to be called both wide receiver and wide out is beyond me. I tried just calling them all "wides" but, much like "fetch," it doesn't seem to be catching on. So for now, despite my best efforts, one position with two names.

Play Action - This one's tricky (for me). It's when a quarterback fakes a hand off, keeps the ball, and then passes to one of his receivers. It's called a "play action pass" shortened colloquially to "play action." If I were the commissioner of the NFL, I would hereby rename this a "fake handoff." Reason number 432 I'd be a better commissioner than Roger Goodell.

Sack - A more well known term, but the origin of the term is pretty cool. (And if liking word/phrase origins is wrong, I don't want to be right.) A sack occurs when a QB is tackled by the defense behind his own line of scrimmage. There's a couple different origin stories, but most people credit Hall of Fame defensive end Deacon Jones for popularizing this term in the 60s. He claimed that a sack devastated the offense, just like sacking a city devastates the city. Makes me want to watch some Game of Thrones!

*image from Sack of Astapor. (obvi)
Monday Morning Quarterback - this is an idiom I just love. It's someone who criticizes/passes judgment with the benefit of hindsight. Most NFL games are played Sunday (not all! There's also Monday night, Thursday night, and Saturday playoff games), so that's what Monday morning refers to. I just think of a group of guys standing in the break room at work saying things like "I could have made that throw!" Also, the definition is on this wikipedia of sports idioms which is pretty great!

So, there you have it. Five football terms so you can go get your guacamole on and pictures of Rachel McAdams and Emilia Clark because duh. Happy Wednesday!

p.s. Just re-read this Wednesday Wordplay for fun, and now I'm seriously considering a re-read of Tiny Beautiful Things.

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