30 Things a Football Fan’s Wife/Girlfriend Needs to Know Before the Game
How to Become the Greatest Football Girlfriend/Wife
Girls and football are one of the most polarizing combinations in the history of mankind, but a harmony between the two can make for a terrific relationship between the girl and her boyfriend. And if that harmony can be made consistent, that boyfriend will likely turn into a husband. However, that amity must first be transformed into the tiniest hint of appreciation for the game before that happens…or at least to make a marriage that will last.
Think that’s crazy? How many couples do you know who fight every weekend during football season because he just wants to watch the game while she would rather do virtually anything else? Perhaps you’re in such a relationship and that’s why you’re getting so worked up over this.
I’m here to tell you that a woman who understands football and why her boyfriend/husband loves it so much is one who will enjoy a happy relationship for many years. Of course, there are a lot more things that make up a successful marriage, but if the man is a hardcore football fan, at least a basic understanding of the game is essential.
When my wife and I were dating, I took her to her first NFL game: the divisional playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants in January of 2008. She didn’t ask any dumb questions and when she yelled out “intentional grounding” before it was called, I asked her to marry me on the spot. Ok, not really, but I did propose shortly thereafter and we have been happily married ever since. You understand why I had this reaction, though, right? If you’re a woman trying to please her boyfriend/husband in the discussion of football, allow me to help you become Girlfriend/Wife of the Year.
30. Which Days Games are Played, Both College and Pro
There’s no bigger turnoff than sitting down to watch the game after church and the girl saying, “I thought football was on yesterday.”
Yes, it was on yesterday and it’s on today as well.
College teams play on Saturdays (with a few smaller games on Thursdays) while the NFL is on Thursday, Sunday and Monday night.
29. The Number of Games Played in a Season
There are way too many games in baseball and basketball, but don’t let that confuse you. Each NFL team plays 16 games in a season with one week off in between. Thus, there are 17 weeks to a season, plus the playoffs. College football is a little shorter with usually 12 games per team, per season.
28. Why Teams Only Play Once Per Week
The teams don’t play very often because unlike baseball and basketball, football is exhausting, both mentally and physically. It takes a week for the players to recover enough to play again.
27. When the Super Bowl is Played
Another huge pet peeve of football fans is being asked, “When is the Super Bowl?” or even the more annoying version: “Who’s in the Super Bowl this year?”
If it’s mid-October, a question like that immediately tells us you are completely ignorant when it comes to football. Know that the game is played the first Sunday in February, so anytime before that, the teams playing in it haven’t been decided yet.
26. Super Bowl is 2 Words, Both Capitalized
You've decided to throw your boyfriend/husband a Super Bowl party. Great idea! You're getting this! Let's say you want to send out invites or make a banner to hang on the mantle or something similar...
Do not EVER write this: Superbowl. It is wrong. It’s two words and both are capitalized. This is in every style guide and writing rule book out there because it’s such a common term, yet so many people write it incorrectly. Don’t be one of those people.
25. Which 2 Teams are Playing
Don’t look at the screen and then ask who is playing. It says in that box in the corner who is playing…and that box is on the screen for the entire game.
24. The Difference Between an Extra Point and a Field Goal
It’s really aggravating when someone asks, “Are they going to kick a field goal or go for two?”
I know it’s the same formation and general process, but the one that happens immediately after a touchdown is only worth one point and it’s called the extra point. A field goal happens instead of a touchdown when the offense isn’t in a good position to score the latter.
23. How Many Points a Touchdown is Worth
Contrary to common belief among most girlfriends and wives, a touchdown is not worth seven points; it’s worth six and the seventh comes from the extra point, which we discussed earlier. That’s why we say “pick six” when a player returns and interception for a touchdown instead of “pick seven," which would just sound stupid.
22. What Constitutes a Score
Don’t ever ask, “Why can’t they just throw the ball into the touchdown?”
First of all, a “touchdown” is not a place; the end zone is the place where touchdowns are scored. Secondly, this isn’t basketball — a player must cross the goal line (into the end zone) with the ball in his hands.
A safety is when the defense tackles the ballcarrier in his own end zone or knocks the ball out of the back of that end zone during a regular play (the one behind him). This is worth two points.
We’ve already gone over field goals and extra points.
21. The Difference Between a Safety and a Touchback
Speaking of safeties, if a punt or kickoff goes out of the back of the end zone, no points are awarded. This is called a touchback and the offense is awarded the ball on their own 20-yard line.
20. The Difference Between the Game Clock and the Play Clock
There are two clocks on the screen most of the time, one with a large amount of time and one with a much smaller amount. The larger one is the game clock and it tells everyone when each quarter is over and when the game is over. The smaller one tells the quarterback how long he has to snap the ball without being penalized for delaying the game.
19. Number of Quarters That Constitute a Game and Length of Those Quarters
Yes, there are two halves to the game, but each of those halves is also made up of two quarters and each one is 15 minutes long. Those are game-time minutes, not real-time minutes.
18. Why a 60-Minute Game Takes 4 Hours
The clock stops for incomplete passes, changes of possession, penalties, team timeouts, media timeouts and ends of quarters. That’s a lot of real time elapsed with no action, which is why the game takes so long. Oh yeah, and there’s halftime.
17. How Many Players are on the Field for Each Team
There are 11 players on the field per team at all times. If there are any more, a penalty is called. There is no penalty for having less than 11 players on the field.
16. Talking About the Looks of a Player and/or His Uniform is a Cardinal Sin
This is the age-old pet peeve of all football fans, but if you’re trying to become a superstar football girlfriend/wife, DO NOT say anything of this nature. Even if you’re thinking it, keep it to yourself. Period.
15. Why a Player Can be Great in Fantasy Football But Still Play for a Bad Team
A common question is, “Why do you have (insert player name) on your fantasy team? His team is terrible.”
That’s a valid question for a non-fantasy football player. The answer is this: “Fantasy points are accumulated by stats and there are points scored and stats recorded by bad teams. Thus, a good player on a bad team can still be relevant in fantasy football.”
14. What the Yellow Line on the Screen Means
If you don’t know anything about downs and yards-to-go, learn that first and then you’ll realize on your own that the yellow line on the screen marks where the offense needs to get for a first down.
13. Arena Football Exists
You don’t have to know anything about arena football, but know that it exists and that it’s basically the same game on a smaller field. My wife surprised me with tickets to an arena game once and it was actually a ton of fun. Also, there are a lot of NFL players who once played arena football, which makes it somewhat relevant.
12. Why a Player in Motion Isn’t “Offsides”
We’ll get to why offsides is in quotes above in a minute, but first, let’s explain that the offense can send one player in motion before the snap as long as he is set or going parallel to the line of scrimmage at the snap. He can’t back up and run toward the line before the snap like the guys in the arena league.
11. The Difference Between Offsides and a False Start
If an offensive player jumps before the snap, it’s a false start. Offsides refers to a defensive player who crosses the line of scrimmage before the snap and doesn’t get back to his side in time. Neutral zone infraction and encroachment are other words you’ll hear regarding the defense going early, but “offsides” never refers to the offense, so don’t say it hoping to sound smart. Say false start and you’ll turn your boyfriend/husband’s head in a good way.
10. Whether or Not the Players Wear Cups
This ain’t baseball — football players don’t wear cups. I know it seems like they should, but they don’t. Everyone has their own reason, so don’t ask why because we can’t answer for the guys on the screen.
9. How Much Kickers Get Paid
Kickers don’t make the same astronomical amounts of money that other players do, but they don’t make chunk change. Know this and don’t ask this question during a game because it indicates you’re not really paying attention to what’s going on.
8. Why the Coordinators Cover Their Mouths
Some teams use similar terminology in their play-calls, so coordinators cover their mouths to keep the opposing sideline from reading their lips and tipping their players off before the snap.
7. Why Peyton Manning Says All That Gibberish Before the Play
All quarterbacks make calls at the line of scrimmage, but none do it as extensively as Peyton Manning. But regardless of how long and detailed the calls are, they're all to help better prepare the offense for the upcoming play. For example, if the quarterback knows a certain defensive player is going to blitz and he alerts his teammates to change their actions to account for that, the result could be a touchdown instead of a sack…or worse.
6. Tackling Hard is Not a Penalty…Most of the Time
Yes, there are a lot of hard hits in a football game — we talked about why they can only play once per week. However, a player can’t get penalized for simply hitting another player “too hard.” There are penalties about head shots and things of that nature, but a good clean hit is just that, no matter how hard…or brutal.
5. The Difference Between the Terms “Blocking” and “Covering”
This one may seem strange, but a huge pet peeve of a football fan is someone yelling, “They need to cover him better!” when a quarterback is sacked.
No, his linemen need to do a better job of BLOCKING for him. “Covering” refers to what the defensive backs to do the receivers to prevent them from catching the ball. When an offensive player is preventing a defensive player from tackling his teammate, it’s called blocking.
4. Why Linemen are Important
Girls often insult the linemen because they’re bigger fellas who don’t appear all muscular and perfectly in shape like the other players. However, linemen are often just as athletic and skilled as the smaller guys and they’re a lot more important.
Nothing happens in football without the linemen because the offensive ones provide protection for the quarterbacks and running backs while the defensive ones provide protection to the linebackers while also trying to get past the offensive ones to make the tackle.
Without linemen, we’d have a game of seven-on-seven and nobody wants to see that.
3. Why Linemen Don’t Get the Ball
Yes, linemen are important, but they can’t get the ball on a legal play outside of a fumble because then there would be no one to protect the quarterbacks and running backs all the time. Then defenses would have to account for linemen as pass-catchers and we’d have a huge mess on our hands.
2. Why Running the Ball is Important
Aside from talking about a player’s looks or the looks of his uniform, the worst thing a girlfriend/wife can do is say something like, “Why don’t they just run around the pile? Running right into it is just dumb.”
No, the phrase that just came out of your mouth was “just dumb.” Remember the linemen we discussed earlier? They block specific defenders on specific plays to open holes for the running back to run through with the ball. In doing this, he prevents the defense from only trying to stop passing plays on every play, which basically kills any offense.
And the whole “running around” thing doesn’t make sense when you think about it: Not all defenders are just “fighting” with an offensive player and not paying attention; there are several who are watching for where the ballcarrier goes. So if he just ran to the outside every time, he’d get tackled for a loss before he could reach the line of scrimmage.
When the camera goes to one of those rare shots behind the offense, watch the linemen and you’ll see the holes open up. The importance of this can be summed up with a simple fact: Most teams that win the Super Bowl run the ball well.
1. Intentional Grounding
I mentioned that my wife knew what intentional grounding was the first time I took her to an NFL game when we were dating, which instantly made me love her even more.
When a quarterback is about to get sacked, he can’t just throw the ball down to avoid it. There are rules about this, including where he has to be when he throws the ball and where the ball lands. If he’s not blatantly scrambling outside the pocket and/or the ball doesn’t land at or beyond the line of scrimmage, it’s a penalty.
This is something that you could definitely get away with asking your boyfriend/husband during the game, but if you’ve been waiting on a proposal that you think is overdue, learn this and call it during a game before the ref says it and you’re likely to expedite that engagement process.
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