Friday, September 18, 2009

Intentional grounding

Sometimes, a quarterback will get a penalty for Intentional Grounding.

This happens when he throws the ball away to avoid getting sacked (tackled to the ground with the ball still). If he tries to throw the ball away, he can throw the ball towards:

  • the down marker on the sideline (the bright orange pole that marks the line of scrimmage and the first-down line)
  • a receiver

If he throws the ball and it isn't close to a receiver (I think a receiver has to be within 2-3 yards), then he gets a penalty for Intentional Grounding.

The signal for Intentional Grounding (when the ref announces it), he will:

  • put his hands about 8 inches apart - facing each other
  • move his hands from up by one shoulder diagonally down in front of his body to end by the other hip.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

OK, so how long is an average game?

How much time out of your life will you dedicate to watch an average game from kickoff to the last second?

About 3 hours. Maybe 3 and a half.

Including all commercials, halftime, and timeouts.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What time is the game on?

Sundays are the main NFL day during the week!

On Sundays, the NFL games start at 1:00 Eastern and 4:15 Eastern. Most teams play at 1:00 with only a few "late games" at 4:00.

Most Sundays, there is also a night game - I think that starts at 8:30 Eastern. It's neat because later in the season, the Sunday night teams are re-evaluated as the game approaches - so we all don't get stuck watching some meaningless (in terms of playoffs) or bad (2 loser teams against each other) game.

Then, there's Monday night games on ESPN. It's always a big honor for teams to play on Monday nights - it means their games were interesting or they played well the previous year. Not every team will get to play on Monday night and some teams get to play more than a fair share of Monday night games.

This Monday, they are having 2 games - one at 7:00 and one at 10:30 Eastern. Don't worry - the 10:30 one is the Chargers and the Raiders and probably isn't worth staying up to watch.

The NFL also mixes in Thursday night games - but these aren't every week, so it's hard to keep track of them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Why did the ref take his hat off?

When you see a ref walking around without his hat on, it means that a player has gone out of bounds.

This is important because the player who went out of bounds cannot be the first player to touch the ball that is in play (like on a kickoff or punt...).

Happy football weekend!

(sorry this is short - i've been sick the last 3 days)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

NFL Kick-off Thursday!

So, the season officially kicks off this Thursday night. The Tennessee Titans vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The NFL is making a big deal out of it - trying to turn it into a big deal with performances by Tim McGraw, The Black Eyed Peas, and others. Think Superbowl, only not as good commercials. But hey, football will be on.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

4th preseason game

The 4th preseason game is pretty boring. None of the good players play much (if at all) as no one wants them to get hurt. It is basically a final tryout time for those players who are trying to stay on the team. Teams have to cut to 53 players before the first game (I think), and many teams still have 70 or more players. So you can imagine how they are fighting for their roster spots!

So the final preseason games are more for the coaches than us spectators. Don't feel obligated to watch.

I'm not. That's for sure.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Why is that player waving his hand over his head?

Scene: One team has kicked the ball to the other team.

The player back to receive the ball starts waving his hand in the air over his head.


That is the signal for a "fair catch." Once a player waves his hand over his head, he is saying that he just wants to catch the ball and will not run with it when he does. The kicking team is not allowed to touch him (or it will be a penalty).

If he catches it: His team gets the ball right where he caught it and no players from the other team are allowed to try to tackle him.

If he drops it (and he has touched the ball): either team can recover the ball for their team.

If he doesn't touch the ball and misses it: Then it's like he never signaled for the fair catch. If his team recovers it, they can try to run with it (and the other team can try to tackle him). If the kicking team recovers it, then the next play (for the receiving team) will start wherever the kicking team touched the ball.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What's the Red Zone? I don't see any red...

Red Zone - the area inside the 20-yard line

When a team is on offense and they get to the 20-yard line closest to the end zone where they're trying to score, that is the Red Zone (from the 20 to the end zone).

You'll hear TV announcers talk about a team's "Red Zone Scoring" or the percentages of times they score (touchdown, field goal, or no score) once they've made it to the Red Zone.

Side note: We like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In their stadium, they have a huge pirate ship. Whenever the Bucs make it to the Red Zone, they fire the canons from the pirate ship one time. (When they score, the canons fire one time for each point scored.) It's awesome and LOUD - especially when you're in the stadium!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

You're going the wrong way!

You may have noticed that your favorite team is heads towards both end zones at different times of the game. Or maybe you didn't notice. But it happened.

After each quarter, the teams switch direction they are going to get to the end zone (when they are offense).

For example:
  • 1st quarter, when your team is trying to score, they are heading towards the right on your TV.
  • 2nd quarter, they're heading left on your TV when they try to score.
  • 3rd quarter (start of the 2nd half), they're heading right again.
  • 4th quarter - back to the left.
I think it is so they both have to deal with the downfalls of each end zone (like a strong wind or looking into the sun).

Or maybe it's just to confuse us a little bit more.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What is the red flag the coach threw?

Sometimes, you'll see a coach throw a red flag onto the field. This means that he wants to challenge the ruling on the field (because he doesn't agree with what the ref called).

When a ruling gets challenged, the referee watches the play using instant replay (to see if the right call was made or if they messed up).

After reviewing the play, the call will either get overturned (which is what the coach wanted) or it will stand as called. To overturn a ruling, there has to be "indisputable visual evidence" - which means it has to clearly show on the replays. The officials get the same replays that the TV channel broadcasts - so if YOU can't see it clearly, the official can't either. Sometimes, you'll wish there was a better angle - but it is still determined by what is actually SHOWN on the replay.

Each coach gets 2 challenges per game.

If the coach WINS the challenge (and gets the ruling overturned), he is not charged a timeout. If he wins two challenges in the game, then he earns a 3rd red flag for later (if he needs it).

If the coach loses the challenge (and the ruling stands as called), then the team loses a timeout (because - let's face it, the game stopped). So, a team has to have a timeout left in order to use their challenge.

During the last 2 minutes of each half, coaches cannot challenge a play. During that time, plays can still be reviewed, but it has to be a "booth review" - which means the officials in the viewing booth want the field officials to look at the replay.

Not all plays are reviewable though, so if the coach challenges an un-reviewable play, then the ref tells him he can't challenge and the game goes on (and the coach is not charged a challenge or a timeout).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Random - there's a green dot on this guy's helmet

You might notice some players have a green dot on the back of their helmet. That means that they have a radio in their helmet. The radio lets them hear calls from the coaches on the sidelines. The quarterback has the green dot - and there can only be one green dot on the field at a time per team. Sometimes, the defensive captain on the team will have a dot too.

Just in case you were wondering...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

He was on the ground but got up and kept running...

In the NFL, if a player falls down or trips on his own (and stays in bounds) and is not touched by a player of the other team, he can get up and keep the play going. If a player of the other team causes him to fall (tackle, pushes, etc.), then when the player falls, he is considered "down by contact" and the play is over.

To know if he is officially down, they look for an elbow or knee (or butt) to touch the ground. If just his hand hits the ground, he's not considered down and can keep moving the ball.

Sometimes, the player with the ball will fall on top of a player from the other team. If his knee or elbow or butt doesn't touch the ground, he can keep going!

You will see these kind of plays reviewed or challenged too - that's when they're looking to see if someone on the other team touched him (sometimes it's just a whiff and no contact was made) and if his knee/elbow/butt actually touched the ground.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Beginner's Guide to Football

I stumbled across the Beginner's Guide to Football on the NFL website. It's a good reference for some basic points. Just thought it might help you!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The game clock has a mind of its own...

When does the NFL game clock stop? Some reasons...
  • A timeout is called (duh, right?)
  • The person with the ball runs out of bounds (this is important when there's not much time left in the half)
  • There's an injured player on the field (although sometimes the team has to use a timeout then too - it depends)
  • The red challenge flag is thrown by a coach (which means the referees review the previous play to see if the decision needs to be changed)
  • It is the 2-minute warning (this is at the end of the 2nd and 4th quarters)
  • Change of possession (interception, score, punt, etc.)

Sometimes you won't realize the clock stopped because they'll switch to a TV commercial.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How do they decide where the ball goes?

After a player runs with or catches the ball, however far the ball itself got is where it will be "spotted" or placed for the start of the next play. This is pretty straightforward most of the time. Sometimes though, a player might catch the ball and then get knocked backwards with it and get tackled further back.

It doesn't matter - it's called "forward progress" - so as far forward as the ball progressed, that's where the next play will start!

Sometimes on the TV replays, you'll see them zooming in on the ball to figure out how far forward progress took it (especially important when the team only needed to go a short distance).

Quarterback Brett Favre (pronounced like FARVE but that's not how it's spelled) came out of retirement (again) and signed with the Minnesota Vikings. This is important for various reasons including: Favre played for the Green Bay Packers for most of his career and they are rivals of the Vikings; also Favre is an older player so it is a question to how well he'll actually play; and also he will be starting in the preseason game on Friday. If you want to know more, turn on ESPN or NFL Network (or visit their websites), they'll all be talking about it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

So what happens at kickoff?

The game starts with the kickoff - when one team kicks the ball to the other. (There are other times when there are kicks throughout the game, too - and the same choices apply.) You'll notice one guy back to catch the ball near the endzone. There's a few choices he has when the ball is kicked...
  1. Catch the ball and run it. He can try to run it as far as possible (while the other players try to tackle him to make him stop).
  2. Waive his hand above his head in the air to signal a "fair catch". This means he is going to catch the ball, but he can't run with it and the other team can't hit him. However, if he drops the ball, then it is anyone's ball and either team can get possession of the ball by being the ones to grab it and hold on to it.
  3. Let the ball bounce and not try to catch it. Then, wherever the ball stops bouncing/rolling, that is where the next play will start. Or, if the kicking team touches the ball, that's where the ball is "dead" and that's where the next play will start.

If the kicker kicks the ball all the way into the endzone and the player doesn't try to catch it and run (or if he catches it and "takes a knee"/kneels while holding the ball, then it is considered a "touchback" and the next play will start at the 20-yard line).

On a kickoff, if the kicker kicks the ball out-of-bounds on the sidelines, then the ball automatically starts at the 40-yard line! So those kickers are pretty careful to kick the ball straight down the field...

Friday, August 14, 2009

A reminder about why I watch football

I think there are many wives who wish their husbands shared a hobby with them - but they think the husband should engage in one of their hobbies. They don't want to learn about football or sports or cars or movies where things constantly blow up. Face it ladies, that's what most guys are interested in. And if you want to share a hobby, try getting into one of those! That's what this love-thing is all about, right? (and just maybe, he will see how hard you are trying to learn football and he might try to learn about one of your interests - but don't go into it with that as an end goal)

I also think many wives get frustrated by their husband's lack of communication. Sample conversation:

Wife: Hi honey! How was your day?
Husband: Busy.

To the husband, the conversation is now over. To the wife, she's starving for more information - details, stories, anything!

Well, get him talking about football and his language skills will drastically improve!

Last night, I asked my husband a football-related question. The answer went on for about 10 minutes! Now, you have to understand that I usually talk circles around my husband, but when it comes to football, he literally lights up when he gets to talk about it and he will go on and on and on. Not bragging about what he knows - just glad to get to process it aloud with someone! And sure, he might get the chance to talk to "the guys" at work about it, but he still gets such joy talking to me and sharing this passion. If for nothing else, that connection with my husband is worth the time and effort I spend focusing on football.

It might not be what the wife wants to talk about (or listen to), but if it's so important to your husband, you can learn something about it or probably fake some interest for a while...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

4th down!

Ok, now that we know each team gets 4 tries/downs to move the ball at least 10 yards, 4th down can be a little tricky.

When it's 4th down, the team has to choose what to do...
  1. They can go for it and try to get the 1st down. The team runs a play to try to get the ball past the first down line. If they succeed, they get a new set of downs (4 more tries). The problem is that if they don't move the ball far enough (past the first down line), the other team gets the ball wherever they stop. So, this is a risky option - teams usually "go for it" when they don't have too far to go (like "4th and inches") or it is a close game and the game is almost over and they need to score.
  2. They can kick a field goal. Of course, this means they need to be close enough to the goalposts that their kicker can kick the ball between the posts at the end of the field (the goal posts). A field goal typically becomes a viable option when the team is about 30 yards from the endzone (the 0 line) or closer. If they make the field goal and the ball goes between the posts, they get 3 points. If they miss, the other team gets the ball wherever it was before they attempted the kick. (You will also see field goal attempts when there are only a few seconds left in the 2nd or 4th quarter, since if they miss, the other team won't get the ball.)
  3. They can punt the ball. This means that they kick the ball towards the endzone and the other team then gets to catch it, run it as far as they can, and take over on offense (and try to score themselves). This is choice you'll see most of the time, because it puts the other team further back than the other 2 choices.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's a DOWN?

Ok, so if you watch football, you'll definitely hear about "downs". Basically, a down is a try. Each time a team gets the ball, they get 4 tries or "downs" to move the ball at least 10 yards. (The main goal is to get the ball to the other end of the field to score a touchdown.)

If a team is successful and moves the ball at least 10 yards in 4 downs, then they get "another set of downs", which means they get 4 more tries.

When you watch football on TV, there are usually 2 digitally-added lines that help you out:
  1. the line of scrimmage - this is where the ball starts. The team has to move the ball at least 10 yards from the line of scrimmage in 4 downs. When you see the guys all line up and one guy has his hand on the ball - the ball is actually on the line of scrimmage.
  2. the first down line - this is the line the TV station adds to show you how far the ball has to go for the team to earn a first d0wn (and 4 more tries to keep moving the ball). It's great having this line on the TV screen and it makes it easy for you to know if the player made it as far as they needed to!

Some examples of how you will hear this on TV: (it is always stated as: which down is it and how far do they have to move the ball to earn a first down)

  • First (down) and 10 (yards to go) - this means it is the first down/try and the team has 10 yards to go to earn more downs (the first-down line on tv will be 10 yards away from where the teams line up)
  • Second and 7 - it is the second down and the team has to go 7 yards (the first-down line will be 7 yards away from where the teams line up)
  • Third and inches - it is the third down and there are only inches to go for the team to earn a first down
  • Second and 15 - sometimes, due to penalties or where the ball ends up, teams may have MORE than 10 yards to get to the first-down line.

Next post - Fourth down and what happens then.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Great play you have to see!

OK, here's a video from the game Sunday night that you really should see. The two teams were the Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans. The Titans are in blue and are the team with the ball.

I didn't see the game at all, but my football-lover saved the recording just to show me this play - because it is so awesome. Sure, there are the occasional trick plays in the NFL, but that doesn't make them any less amazing!

Monday, August 10, 2009

OK, so you're ready to watch a game?

OK - a few basics about the game... (and I am always referring to NFL, so college games may have slightly different answers, but you gotta start somewhere!)

By the numbers:
  • 4 quarters per game - broken down into 2 halves with 2 quarters each
  • 15 minutes per quarter (although it takes more like 40 minutes to play because the clock stops for various reasons)
  • 11 players on the field at a time from each team
  • 53 = the number of players a team can keep throughout the season (with a few exceptions that are too tricky to explain here)

Each game starts with a coin toss. The team that wins gets to choose if they want to kick the ball to the other team (putting the coin-toss winners on defense first) or if they want to receive the ball (putting the coin-toss winners on offense first). Whatever the coin-toss winners choose, the opposite is how the second half will start. (So, if the coin-toss winners choose to receive the ball in the first half, then they will start the second half by kicking the ball to the other team.) (*note: the coin-toss winner can also DEFER their choice to the second half, letting the other team choose for the first half, but you don't see that too often.)

The pre-season games are going to be going on for the next few weeks. This is a good time to try to watch football with your football-lover, and here's why:

  • Pre-season games don't really matter in the grand scheme of things, so there is less pressure on the players and their fanatical fans. It's basically when the players are fighting for their spot on the team or to become a starter (starter = the person who plays the position at the start of a game - usually the better person who plays that position)
  • Since the games don't matter (really), your football-lover might be more willing to pause the game and explain things to you (that's the ideal, right?).
  • After watching some pre-season games, you will undoubtedly have more questions (that you can ask on here and I can try to help!)

If you are not used to watching complete football games, I would suggest:

  • Watch the start of the game (known as "the kickoff") - and keep watching at least until 4-5 minutes have gone by on the clock. This will give you a good grasp of what goes on.
  • Then, you can tune out (or fast forward)
  • Watch the start of the second half - it's just like the kickoff, so you'll be used to what you're watching (and watch 4-5 minutes of game clock time, not real life time)
  • Tune out or fast forward
  • Watch the last 3-4 minutes of time in the 4th quarter. That way, you'll see which team wins and see how a game ends.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fact: There are 32 teams in the NFL.

Myth: You need to know about all of them.

Fact: Start by learning which team your football-lover loves - learn the name and the city.

Example: My football-lover loves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

What about yours?


I was not a willing football follower. It started soon after we got married and I realized what a fanatic my husband was. I was faced with a choice: learn football too or miss out on this important hobby of my husband (and not have him ignore me for about 6 months each year - NO THANKS!). No choice really, so here it is 11 years later and I am a Football Wife.

The idea for this blog is to help other wives/girlfriends/significant others who love someone who loves football. The NFL is too big of a concept to understand all at once and the game is complicated and hard to follow at times - but in the end, it's worth it.

I am fortunate that my husband is a patient teacher and loves to share his football knowledge with me in a non-condescending way. Without him, football would scare and intimidate me. But it doesn't and I have learned to love the game on my own.

So, maybe I can help you understand the basics in a new way - and you can use that knowledge to impress the football-lover in your life! (When I spout off football info to my husband, I tell him he better acknowledge how impressed he is because I only learn it for him! Let's face it - there is definitely more important things I would rather be doing than skimming football sites and listening to the NFL Network!)