Don’t know a thing about football? Invited to a party to watch The Big Game? Don’t worry, I’ll give you enough information here to carry on a conversation. Let’s face it, even people who never watch football tune in to watch The Big Game, even though we might only be interested in the commercials or halftime. (I’m talking to men and women here. Ditch the stereotypes!)
I grew up in the South, so I was born into a football loving culture. I think it might even be required by law to love the sport there. Red- 24! Red 24! Hut! Hut! Hike! (more on this later).
Who the hell is actually playing?
This year we have the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos.
The Denver Broncos
Colors: Orange and Blue
Quarterback: Peyton Manning. He’s kind of a big deal. He is old for a quarterback, but damn he’s good. Peyton wears #18 on his jersey.
The Carolina Panthers
Colors: Blue and Black
Quarterback: Cam Newton. He is young, but he has a solid throwing arm. Cam Newton was in 4th grade when Peyton Manning had his first day in the NFL. Cam wears #1 on his jersey.
What is a 1st down and all that stuff?
Football basically consists of a field that is sectioned off in 10 yard increments. A first down happens when the quarterback throws the ball and the player that gets it carries it more than ten yards from where the quarterback threw it. Not so hard. The idea is to get down the field and score. You have 4 tries to make the 1st down. That is why you hear the team is “2nd and 3.” That means it is the second try to get the 10 yards and they have moved 7 yards and have 3 yards to go to get the 1st down.
The process repeats itself until a touchdown is scored. If the situation becomes a 4th down, and the team isn’t close enough to kick a field goal, the team kicks the ball to the opposing team so they have a shot at scoring. In certain high stakes games a team might go for it, but if they don’t get the touchdown the opposing team gets the ball at the line of scrimmage (the place the quarterback threw the ball from).
Why are the scores so weird?
Touchdown: When you get the ball down the field to the opposing team’s end zone you have scored a touchdown! (Cue the music!) You get six points. Yay for you. After a touchdown the kicker for your team gets to kick an extra point field goal. If he kicks that pigskin and makes it, one point is added to your six for a total of seven. Seven is a good number.
Why does the quarterback say weird things before he throws the ball?
They have codes for plays and actions that they study before games. The coach calls the play and the quarterback hears it in his helmet. Then he yells out all that Purple 36! Hut! Hike!, blah, blah. Football is a head game, folks. Most coaches nowadays cover their mouth when they are calling the plays in their headset in case the opposing team has figured out their codes and has someone watching TV to read their lips. I know, right? Anyway, every game has different codes. It makes me tired just thinking about it.
What is a Field Goal?
Field Goals happen when your team has not moved down the field enough to make it to the end zone and score a touchdown, but you think you’re close enough for your kicker to kick a field goal. If he makes it your team scores 3 points! Yay!
I hope you’re still with me. That was a lot of explaining. Now I’m going to talk about Offense and Defense.
Offense: These are the players that are trying to score the points; the quarterback, running back, etc. You want your team to have as much offensive time on the field as possible. More time on the field = more possibilities of scoring.
Defense: These guys are usually big and tough. They are the guys that are tackling the other team’s offense. That is the reason some of them are the size of a small sedan.
Don’t worry if you don’t know a lot about the game. It’s cool that some people are passionate about something that doesn’t interest other people. If we all liked the same stuff the world would be very boring.
I myself am rooting for The Broncos even though Peyton Manning always beat my precious Georgia Bulldogs when he played for the Tennessee Volunteers in college. I still like him. He seems like a nice dude and his SNL skits are funny as hell.
If after reading all this you say, “I still don’t give a crap!” then good for you. Just take lots of beer and salsa and chips to the Big Game party and no one will care that you thought that a first down referred to the first person to knock the quarterback down. Besides, the commercials and the halftime show are the best part of the event!
Happy Big Game Party!