3 Football-Isms That MUST Go Away


Like a lot of red blooded American boys, I spent a decent amount of time watching football this weekend.

I don’t want to come across as overly critical here, but am I the only one who’s noticed that most Football Announcers seem to recycle the same few catch phrases over and over again without really adding an awful lot of insight to the game at hand?

While watching the games Sunday I came up with 3 football-isms that either need to be modified or retired all together.  Here they are:


  1. Smash Mouth Football- Seems like any time a line-backer makes a big hit or running back runs over a guy rather than around him, the announcer will inevitably say “When we talked to the Coach yesterday, Joe, he said they wanted to come out and play smash mouth football….and that’s exactly what he was talking about!”

I understand what they’re driving at, but I have to figure that simply by virtue of putting a bunch of 300 pound guys into pads and having them run into each other repeatedly at high rates of speed, pretty much ALL football is smash mouth football, isn’t it?  I mean can you imagine an announcer saying “When we talked to the Coach yesterday Joe, he said they wanted to come out and play powder puff football…..they’re not interested in getting their uniforms dirty or hitting anyone too hard ….and that’s exactly what he was talking about!”

Granted, it’d never happen, but at least it would make for interesting commentary if it did.

2. 8 Men in the Box- Anytime a defense crowds the line of scrimmage in anticipation of a running play, one of the announcers inevitably uses this phrase.  While I get the reference and understand its intended purpose, for my money “8 men in a box” sounds like a bad magic trick put together by one of those second rate balloon animal birthday party magicians or a reference to that time and place in American history when wacky college kids used to try and fit as many people into as small an area as possible just for giggles:  like 18 men in a phone booth, or 24 people in a Volkswagen.

When I spoke to hoops broadcaster Dick Vitale last week he said the job of the announcer is to entertain and to educate.  All I’m saying is that the phrase “8 Men in the box” is doing neither.

3.  North South Running- This phrase is generally used when a running back makes the mistake of moving laterally to avoid tacklers instead of moving upfield with the football which often results in a loss of yardage.  Here are my problems with this phrase:

a. First off, if the intended to goal is to run upfield rather than side to side, then shouldn’t it just be “North running”?  In that analogy wouldn’t “South” actually be backward?  And wouldn’t that be even worse than running East-West?

b. Secondly, what if the game is being played on a field that isn’t laid out from North to South?  In that case, isn’t it possible that when a running back moves upfield he’s actually running South West to North East? Never thought about that, did ya?

c. And third, if you’re sitting in the announcer’s booth wearing a 2 thousand dollar suit, isn’t it a bit self-righteous to be overly critical of the directional choices of the guy with the football?  After all, he’s being chased by angry 300 lb linemen.  I don’t know about you, but if I were that guy with the football, I’d be running South by East North if I thought it’d keep me from getting killed.

And one final note:  I think Joe Buck is a wonderful football announcer, probably the best working today.

Al Michaels is pretty good too.

And while I don’t find Jim Nance especially thrilling he’s at least functional and non-intrusive.

But could somebody please, please, PLEASE let Phil Simms know that it drives me batty when he says, “So, I asked him about their strategy for the playoffs, and he GOES well Phil, we’re just going to take it one game at a time.”

God-damnit, Phil.  It’s not “he goes” unless you’re talking about direction.  As in, “he goes across the 24 yard line picks up the 1st down”.

Unless you dropped out of 3rd grade it’s either “he says” or “he said”.

Trust me on this, Phil.  English teachers everywhere are breaking out in hives when you do the “he goes” bit so cut it out!

Stand by for tomorrow’s episode where guest blogger Dan Dierdorf decides to critique the Mike Casey radio get-together.

Like shooting fish in a barrel, that assignment.



  • 1. \playing at a high level\ What happened to \playing well\?

    dang I had heard at least one other but can’t remember it now.

  • 2. “take a shot down the field” has replaced “throw deep”

    I’m sure I’ll hear another if I watch much of Sunday night’s game.

  • Cousin Charlie wrote:

    Like you, Mike, I notice most receivers like to “go deep” when they are covered “man-to-man.”

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