Ten Terms American Football Announcers Use

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One of the most difficult and intimidating parts about following an American football game is that the announcers sometimes seem to be speaking a foreign language known only to true football enthusiasts. But if you remember a few key terms, you’ll be way ahead of the game.

Here are some football terms you may hear, along with their definitions:

  • Corner blitz: A blitzing linebacker or defensive back rushes the quarterback from the outside edge of the offensive alignment or the corner of the offensive line.

  • Dime back: When the defense has six players in the secondary, the sixth player is called a dime back because he’s the second nickel back (two nickels equal a dime).

  • Forklift: A defensive lineman lifts an offensive lineman off the ground, moving him aside as he rushes the quarterback.

  • Franchise player: Commentators routinely refer to the most important player on a team as the franchise.

  • Looking off a defensive back: Commentators say this when a quarterback eyeballs a defensive back, giving the defensive player the impression that he’s throwing the ball toward his area. In actuality, the quarterback intends to throw in a different direction. He fools the defensive back by looking him off.

    [Credit: © iStockphoto.com/Anton Brand]
    Credit: © iStockphoto.com/Anton Brand
  • Muscling his way through: When a commentator uses this phrase, he means a player managed to gain a physical advantage over an opponent.

  • Nickel package: The defensive team is using five defensive backs in the secondary to defend the pass.

  • Running to daylight: The running back has found the soft spot in the defense and is running freely down the field toward the end zone.

  • Shooting a gap: A defensive player somehow runs untouched through a space that should have been blocked by an offensive player. The gap is often between two offensive players or to the outside shoulder of one player.

  • Zeroing in on a receiver: The quarterback is focused on throwing to one specific receiver. The quarterback watches the receiver while he’s running his route and then releases the ball when the receiver’s open.


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