It’s Super Bowl Sunday and you know what that means

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It’s Super Bowl Sunday and you know what that means…

You get the chance to be an arm chair quarterback too! To get you ready for your big play…let’s take a look at some easy to use bits of football jargon. With a little practice, and the right timing, you’ll fit right in. Let’s start now with these key phrases:


The game is played in four sections or quarters of 15 minutes, the quarters or halves are used to mark time within the game. Toss some of this language into your conversation : “This is/that was a great opening quarter/ first half” etc.

Flags/Hankies- You’ll find them in the ref’s pocket, but should an infraction occur and someone doesn’t play by the rules, the refs will pull them out and toss. Here’s what to say:

“There are flags all over the field.” Sure, you’re stating the obvious, but you’re saying it in that football jargon that is so endearing. “Hankies” is another term of affection for the orange pieces of fabric officials toss on the turf. Many flags might mean there are a number of penalties or that a number of officials have seen the same infraction. Nevertheless, commenting on the flags is a sign of a keen eye. A keener eye still will call the penalty before the flag is dropped. This is something to which to aspire.

O line or Offensive line:
These guys have the ball and are taking the lead on the action. They are the ones who want to “march up the field” and “take it to the house””(more about those expressions later.) The O-line has to move the ball ten yards in four tries, called downs (three tries or downs in the CFL). Something to keep in mind for the Super Bowl: The Denver Broncos- with Quarterback Peyton Manning is said by some to have the best offensive line in the NFL

D line or Defensive line:
On the other side of the field, the defensive line will do whatever they can- within the rules and sometimes not- to stop the offense. Making it really, really interesting, The Seattle Seahawks are said to have the best defensive line in the NFL.

Mixed play action”: This phrase can be used when the o-line uses both passing and running plays. It’s a sign of depth (the volume and range of skill on the team) and strategy. Conversely, a team that usually passes only or runs only can be said to have a great passing game, or a great running game. A truly great o-line will be adept at both and use their ability to great advantage. You can add to the football banter by saying: “That was great mixed play action!” or conversely- “They need to mix their plays”.

“Take a measurement” or “call for the chains”. When the ball is close to a first down but there is some concern over whether it has actually moved 10 yards, the official will call for a measurement. When this happens, the linesmen will pull up the chains from the side lines (after an official has carefully marked off the position) and come onto the field to measure the distance between where the ball was, and where the ball is now. Hint: If the measurement shows that your team is short by inches, let out a loud groan. If it is the opposing team who is a little short, cheer loudly.

March up the field: When the offensive line keeps the ball over a number of plays- especially if they get 10 yards or beyond and “earn” what’s called “another set of downs” they are often said to be “marching up the field”. The more “time of possession” that is literally the time the team has the ball often equals more results- that is, points on the scoreboard.

Taking it to the house: the “House” is the end zone. That sometimes elusive place where touchdowns are scored. Then a player scores a touchdown, it can be called “taking it to the house”

Just for Fun: Especially for Canadian football fans: More facts and trivia to use while watching the big game.

The American playing field is 120 x 53 1/3 yards with 10 yards in the end zone. Canadian fans know this is shorter and narrower than a CFL field- by a Canadian country kilometer! The Canadian field is 150 x 65 yards with 20 yards in the end zone. Why do Canadians still use the imperial measurement in football? No idea. Friends??!

American footballs just look different. Why? Both the Canadian and American ball weigh 14 oz and have the same egg shape and roughly the same 28” circumference. The Canadian ball has two white stripes. The American ball does not

How many players on each team? American 11/Canadian 12

The space between the football and the defensive line is called the neutral zone. The American neutral zone is the length of the ball. The Canadian neutral zone is one yard.

In the American game, the player must have both feet on the ground to be within bounds. In the Canadian game, only one foot needs to be in bounds.

How long does the kicker have from the time the play begins to when he must kick the ball for a field goal?
Three seconds.

What are your favourite/favorite bits of football trivia? Enjoy the game!


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