If football is the religion of the South, then it’s only natural that we get a few proverbs from its playbook. Since it’s Saturday, here are some football terms that have entered our everyday lingo. Let’s go to church.
Back up and punt. When the offensive team has failed to make a first down and are too far away for a field goal, their only choice is to punt the ball to the other team. This is a useful phrase when you’ve tried your best, but failed anyway. Now it’s time to try something different.
Armchair quarterback. It’s real easy to lead the team from the safety and comfort of your living room. It’s a whole other ballgame (literally) when you’re in the pocket with a thousand pounds of football fury bearing down on you. This term describes someone who criticizes, but isn’t an active participant.
Monday morning quarterback. You know what they say, hindsight is 20-20. Anybody can make the right decision with the benefit of hindsight. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Throw a Hail Mary pass. When a football player heaves up a long pass in a last ditch effort to win the game. It likely won’t work, but with a little divine intervention, it just might.
Moving the goalposts. Now you can’t really do that during a game, but if you could, it would be impossible for either team to ever score. Likewise, if you keep changing the objective, you’ll never accomplish it.
To be sidelined. The sidelines mark the edge of the playing field. When a player is taken out of the game, he crosses the sideline to sit on the bench where he is out of play. Useful anytime you’re prevented from being an active participant or you’ve been somehow thwarted.
Do an end run around something. Instead of trying to run straight through the defensive line, an offensive player will sometimes try to go around the end of it. This phrase means to take some sort of evasive action of find a creative way to deal with a situation.
All of these idioms come from playing the game of football, but one of my favorite sayings of all time comes from someone announcing the game of football — the legendary Larry Munson. For 42 years, he was the voice of the Georgia Bulldogs, giving the radio play-by-play. Known for the colorful way he would turn a phrase as well as his excited delivery, some of Munson’s calls have now become part of our vernacular. Which brings me to …
We just stepped on their face with a hobnailed boot and broke their nose! It was no secret that Munson was a big Georgia fan, and he never made any pretense otherwise. This was Munson’s vivid description of a winning Georgia touchdown against Tennessee. The quote goes like this
Touchdown! My God, a touchdown! We threw it to Haynes! We just stuffed them with five seconds left! My God Almighty, did you see what he did? David Greene just straightened up and we snuck the fullback over! … We just stepped on their face with a hobnailed boot and broke their nose! We just crushed their face!*