Gridiron football

Gridiron football,[1] also known as North American football[2] or, in North America, simply football, is a football sport primarily played in the United States and Canada. American football, which uses 11-player teams, is the form played in the United States and the best known form of gridiron football worldwide, while Canadian football, featuring 12-player teams, predominates in Canada. Other derivative varieties include indoor football, football for smaller teams (most commonly eight players), and informal games such as touch and flag football. Football is played at professional, collegiate, semi-professional, and amateur levels.

The sport originated in the 19th century out of older games related to modern rugby football and soccer (association football). American and Canadian football developed alongside each other and were originally more distinct before Canadian teams adopted features of the American game.[3] Both varieties are distinguished from other football sports by their use of hard plastic helmets and shoulder pads, the forward pass, the system of downs, a number of unique rules and positions, measurement in customary units of yards (even in Canada, which mostly metricated in the 1970s, yards are still used), and a distinctive brown leather ball in the shape of a prolate spheroid with pointed ends.

The international governing body for the sport is the International Federation of American Football (IFAF); although the organization plays all of its international competitions under American rules, it uses a definition of the game that is broad enough that it includes Canadian football under its umbrella, and Football Canada (the governing body for Canadian football) is an IFAF member.

AmFBfield
Diagram of an American football field. Numbers on the field indicate the yards to the nearest end zone.
Terrain football canadien2
Diagram of a Canadian football field, wider and longer than the American field

Terminology

Football Diagram 1904
1904 diagram of an American football field (1904). In this period lines were painted along the length of the field as well as the width, making a checkerboard pattern

The sport is typically known as simply "football" in the countries where it originated, regardless of the specific variety.[4] Various sources use the term "North American football" when discussing the American and Canadian games together.[5][6][7][8] It is also sometimes known as "gridiron football".[1] This name originates with the sport's characteristic playing field, which is marked by a series of parallel lines along the width of the field in a pattern resembling a cooking gridiron.[9][10] However, "gridiron football", or "gridiron", usually refers to American football specifically,[11][12] sometimes in distinction from Canadian football.[13][14] "Gridiron" is the usual name for American football in Australia[15] and New Zealand.[16] Some sources, including the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), use "American football" inclusive of Canadian football and other varieties.[17]

History

The sport developed from informal games played in North America during the 19th century. Early games had a variety of local rules and were generally similar to modern rugby union and soccer. By the 1860s, teams from universities were playing each other, leading to more standardized rules and the creation of college football. While several American schools adopted rules based on the soccer rules of the British Football Association, Harvard University held to its traditional "carrying game". Meanwhile, McGill University in Montreal used rules based on rugby union. In 1874, Harvard and McGill University in Montreal organized two games using each other's rules. Harvard took a liking to McGill's rugby-style rules, and subsequently played several other U.S. colleges over the next several years.[18]

American football teams and organizations subsequently adopted new rules which distinguished the game from rugby.[19] Among the most consequential changes was the adoption of the forward pass in 1906, which allowed the quarterback to throw the ball forward over the line of scrimmage to a receiver.[20] Canadian football remained akin to rugby for decades, though a progressive faction of players, chiefly based in the western provinces, demanded changes to the game based on the innovations in American football. Over the years, the sport adopted more Americanized rules, though it retained some of its historical features, including a 110-yard field, 12-player teams, and three downs instead of four.[3]

Versions

  • American football is the most common and widely known of these sports. It was originally more closely related to rugby, until various rule changes created by Walter Camp were implemented in 1880. It is played with eleven players to a side, four downs and a 100-yard field. The major professional league, the National Football League (NFL), has its own rule book. College football programs generally play under the code defined in the NCAA Football Rules and Interpretations. High schools generally follow the rules and interpretations published by the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS), although some states follow the NCAA code for high school play. Youth games (below high school age) generally follow NFHS code with modifications. Adult semi-pro, alternative and minor professional, amateur, touch, flag, etc. may follow any one of these codes or use their own rules. While the vast majority of the game is the same among these three codes, subtle variations in rules can lead to large difference in play. Many of the differences are in penalty enforcement and the definitions of fouls.
Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, August 2005
Canadian Football League field
  • Canadian football is played almost exclusively in Canada. Like its American cousin, it was originally more closely related to rugby, until the Burnside rules were adopted in 1903. The game is played on a 110-yard field and has three downs and twelve players to a side. The Canadian game also features a one-point "single" (formally called a "rouge") for a ball kicked into the end zone and not returned by the receiving team. Like the American game, the Canadian Football League and Canadian Interuniversity Sport both have their own rulebooks, although there are generally fewer differences than between their American counterparts.
  • Nine-man football, eight-man football and six-man football are varieties of gridiron football played with fewer players. They are played with four downs (often with a 15-yard requirement for a new set of downs, as opposed to 10 in other codes), fewer offensive linemen, and an 80-yard field. These games are generally based on the high school rulebooks, which have an addendum devoted to the play of these codes, and are generally played by teams from high schools with very small student bodies, usually in rural areas of the United States.
  • Indoor football is played with special rules to accommodate smaller indoor facilities. It is played on a 50-yard field with, usually, eight players to a side. Prototype games were played in 1902 and 1932, both of which used the shortened field but followed the outdoor standard 11 to a side. However, indoor football did not gain popularity until James F. Foster's proprietary version, arena football, debuted in 1986, and set most of the standards for indoor leagues today. As almost all indoor leagues are for-profit professional leagues, each league has its own proprietary code.
  • Sprint football (or lightweight football) is a variant of American football with nearly identical rules but with added restrictions on the maximum weight and percent body fat of players on the field, emphasizing speed and agility over raw size at all positions. It is played at a small number of colleges and universities in the United States.
  • Touch football, flag football, wheelchair football, and backyard football are informal varieties of the game, played primarily at an amateur and recreational level. No specific rulebooks are universally recognized for these variants, where house rules usually apply.
  • Women's American football is the organized play of the sport by women, often with little difference in rules compared to the men's game. Female versions of the informal varieties, such as Powderpuff, also exist. Given the popularity of gridiron football in North America yet the rarity of female-only teams at the high school level and above, female players have also played on men's teams on rare occasion.

Professional leagues

League Country Sport Year
founded
Teams Revenue
US$ (bn)
Average
attendance
Average
salary
US$
National Football League United States American football 1920 32 $9.0 67,604 $1,900,000
Alliance of American Football United States American football 2018 8 $75,000
XFL United States American football 2018 8 $83,000
Canadian Football League Canada Canadian football 1958 9 $0.2 27,005 $80,000
Arena Football League United States Arena football 1987 5 9,248 $15,000
Indoor Football League United States Indoor football 2008 10 $2,800
Champions Indoor Football United States Indoor football 2014 8 $2,250
American Arena League United States Indoor football 2017 15
National Arena League United States Indoor football 2016 8
National Gridiron League United States Indoor football 2017 12
Liga de Fútbol Americano Profesional Mexico American football 2016 8 2,000 $600
China Arena Football League China Arena football 2012 6 $7,500
X-League Japan American football 1971 18

Comparison of codes

Code Traditional
season
Length of field
(yards)
End zones
(yards)
Width of field
(yards)
Players on field
(per team)
Players on line
of scrimmage
Number
of downs
Distance between
first downs
Forward motion
before snap?
Goal
posts
American Autumn 100 10 53​13 11 7 4 10 No At back of end zones
18​12 (NFL and College) to 23​13 (High School) ft. wide
Canadian Summer
Autumn
110 20 65 12 7 3 10 Yes On goal lines
18​12 ft. wide
Indoor Spring 50 8 28​13 8 4 4 10 Yes At back of end zones, 9 to 10 ft. wide
Rebound nets on sides optional
6-man Autumn 80 10 40 6 3 4 15 No At back of end zones
23​13 wide

Play of the game

American Football 1
The football used in North American football has a distinct pointed shape, with a brown color and prominent laces to aid in throwing

This is a minimal description of the game in general, with elements common to all or almost all variants of the game. For more specific rules, see each code's individual articles.

Prior to the start of a game, a coin toss determines which team will kick off the ball to their opponent. Each team lines up on opposite halves of the field, with a minimum ten yards of space between them for the kickoff. The team receiving the ball can make a fair catch (which stops the play immediately), catch the ball and run it back until the ball carrier is tackled, or, if the ball is kicked out of bounds, let the ball go dead on its own (the last case usually happens when the ball is kicked all the way into or through the opponent's end zone, resulting in a touchback and the ball being brought several yards out of the end zone to begin play). A kicking team can, under special circumstances, attempt to recover its own kick, but the rules of the game make it very difficult to do so reliably, and so this tactic is usually only used as a surprise or desperation maneuver.

At this point, play from scrimmage begins. The team in possession of the ball is on offense and the opponent is on defense. The offense is given a set amount of time (up to forty seconds, depending on the governing body), during which the teams can set up a play in a huddle and freely substitute players to set into a formation, in which the offense must remain perfectly still for at least one second (the formation requirement does not apply to Canadian football). At least half of the players (seven in standard American and Canadian football, four in standard indoor ball) on the offense must line up on the line of scrimmage in this formation, including the snapper, who handles the ball before play commences; the rest can (and almost always do) line up behind the line. Neither the offense nor the defense can cross the line of scrimmage before the play commences. Once the formation is set, the snapper snaps the ball to one of the players behind him. (A snapper must snap the ball within 20 to 25 seconds of the official setting the ball back into position after the previous play, and a play clock is kept to enforce the measure.) Once the ball is snapped, the play has commenced, and the offense's goal is to continue advancing the ball toward their opponent's end zone. This can be done either by running with the ball or by a rule unique to football known as the forward pass. In a forward pass, a player from behind the line of scrimmage throws the ball to an eligible receiver (another back or one player on each end of the line), who must catch the ball before it touches the ground. The play stops when a player with the ball touches any part of his body other than hand or foot to the ground, runs out of the boundaries of the field, is obstructed from making further forward progress, or a forward pass hits the ground without being caught (in the last case, the ball returns to the spot it was snapped). To stop play, players on defense are allowed to tackle the ball carrier at any time the ball is in play, provided they do not grab the face mask of the helmet or make helmet-to-helmet contact when doing so. At any time, the player with the ball can attempt a backward, or lateral, pass to any other player in order to keep the ball in play; this is generally rare. Any player on defense can, at any time, attempt to intercept a forward pass in flight, at which point the team gains possession; they can also gain possession by recovering a fumble or stripping the ball away from the ball carrier (a "forced fumble"). A typical play can last between five and twenty seconds.

In the event that any illegal action happens during the play, the results of the previous play are erased and a penalty is assessed, forcing the offending team to surrender between five and fifteen yards of field to the opponent. Whether this yardage is measured from the original spot of the ball before the play, the spot of the illegal action, or the end of the play depends on the individual foul. The most common penalties include false start (when an offensive player jumps to begin the play before the ball is snapped, a five-yard penalty), holding (the grabbing of a player other than the ball carrier to obstruct their progress; a ten-yard penalty against offensive players and a five-yard penalty against defensive ones), and pass interference (when either a receiver or the defending player pushes or blocks the other to prevent them from catching the pass). A team on offense cannot score points as the direct result of a penalty; a defensive foul committed in the team's own end zone, if the penalty is assessed from the spot of the foul, places the ball at the one-yard line. In contrast, a defensive team can score points as a direct result of a penalty; if the offense commits a foul under the same scenario, the defensive team receives two points and a free kick. In all other circumstances (except for the open-ended and extremely rare unfair act clause), a penalty cannot exceed more than half the distance to the end zone. In the event that the penalty would be less advantageous than the result of the actual play, the team not committing the penalty can decline it.

In order to keep play moving, the offense must make a certain amount of progress (10 yards in most leagues) within a certain number of plays (3 in Canada, 4 in the United States), called downs. If the offense does indeed make this progress, a first down is achieved, and the team gets 3 or 4 more plays to achieve another 10 yards. If not, the offense loses possession to their opponent at the spot where the ball is. More commonly, however, the team on offense will, if they have a minimal chance of gaining a first down and have only one play left to do it (fourth down in the U.S., third down in Canada), attempt a scrimmage kick. There are two types of scrimmage kick: a punt is when the ball is kicked downfield as close to the opponent's end zone as possible without entering it; the kicking team loses possession of the ball after the kick and the receiving team can attempt to advance the ball. The other scrimmage kick is a field goal attempt. This must be attempted by place kick or (more rarely) drop kick, and if the kicked ball passes through the goal set at the edge of the opponent's end zone, the team scores three points. (Four-point field goals are available in a few variations of the game under special rules, but the NFL, college and high school football only offer three-point field goals.) In Canada, any kick that goes into the end zone and is not returned, whether it be a punt or a missed field goal, is awarded one single point.

If the team in possession of the ball, at any time, advances (either by carrying or catching) the ball into the opponent's end zone, it is a touchdown, and the team scores six points and a free play known as a try. In a try, a team attempts to score one or two points (rules vary by each league, but under standard rules, a field goal on a try is worth one point while another touchdown is worth two). At the college and professional levels, the defense can also score on a try, but only on the same scale (thus a botched try the defense returns for a touchdown scores only two points and not six).

If a team is in its own end zone and commits a foul, is tackled with the ball, or bats, fumbles, kicks or throws the ball backward out of the field of play through the same end zone, the defense scores a safety, worth two points.

After a try, safety or field goal, the team that had possession of the ball goes back to the middle of the field and kicks the ball off to their opponent, and play continues as it did in the beginning of the game.

Play continues until halftime. (Each team switches their side of the field with the other halfway through each half, at the end of a quarter.) After the halftime break, a new kickoff occurs. Whichever team has more points at the end of the game is declared the winner; in the event of a tie, each league has its own rules for overtime to break the tie. Because of the nature of the game, pure sudden-death overtimes have been abolished at all levels of the game as of 2012.

At all adult levels of the game, a game is 60 timed minutes in length, split into four 15-minute quarters. (High school football uses 12-minute quarters, and the general rule is that the younger the players, the shorter the quarters typically are.) Because of the halftime, quarter breaks, time-outs, the minute warnings (two minutes before the end of a half in the NFL, three minutes in Canadian football), and frequent stoppages of the game clock (the clock stops, for example, after every incomplete pass and any time a ball goes out of bounds), the actual time it takes for a football game to be completed is typically over three hours.[21]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Gridiron football". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  2. ^ See, for example: Jack Brimberg and William Hurley (2006). "Strategic considerations in the coaching of North American football". International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing. From International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, Volume 1, Number 3, pp. 279–287.
  3. ^ a b Flaherty, David H.; Manning, Frank E. (1993). The Beaver Bites Back?: American Popular Culture in Canada. McGill–Queen's Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-7735-1120-0.
  4. ^ Rielly, Edward J. (2009). Football: An Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. University of Nebraska Press. pp. 53–55, 285. ISBN 978-0-8032-2630-2.
  5. ^ Flaherty, David H.; Manning, Frank E. (2013). The Soft Tissues: Trauma and Sports Injuries. Butterworth-Heinemann. p. 402. ISBN 978-1-4832-8007-3.
  6. ^ Steinberg, Shirley R. (2010-06-17). Boy Culture: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 156–157. ISBN 978-0-313-35081-8.
  7. ^ Puhalla, Jim (2010). Sports Fields: Design, Construction, and Maintenance. John Wiley & Sons. p. 339. ISBN 978-0-470-43893-0.
  8. ^ Mandelbaum, Michael (2005). The Meaning Of Sports. PublicAffairs. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-7867-3884-7.
  9. ^ "Gridiron, n. (3.e.)". Oxford English Dictionary. 1989. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  10. ^ Matt, Kohl (2017). "Pigskin and gridiron: notes on the American Football lexicon". oed.com. Oxford University Press. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  11. ^ Markovits, Andrei S.; Rensmann, Lars (2010). Gaming the World: How Sports Are Reshaping Global Politics and Culture. Princeton University Press. p. 209. ISBN 978-1-4008-3466-2.
  12. ^ Carlisle, pp. 237–239.
  13. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica (2009). Britannica Almanac 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. p. 868. ISBN 978-1-59339-839-2. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  14. ^ Jewell, Todd (2014). Goddard, John; Sloane, Peter, eds. "Major league soccer in the USA". Handbook on the Economics of Professional Football: 351–367. ISBN 978-1-78100-317-6. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  15. ^ "Gridiron". Macquarie Dictionary. Macquarie Dictionary Publishers. 2017. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  16. ^ Leland, Louis S. (1984) https://books.google.com/books?id=FqlEe5d4yJ8C&pg=PA39#v=onepage&q=gridiron&f=false "gridiron"]. A Personal Kiwi-Yankee Dictionary, p. 49. Pelican Publishing Company. ISBN 1-4556-1037-2.
  17. ^ http://www.ifaf.info/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/IFAF-Statutes-2016-EN19-09-2016.pdf
  18. ^ Bernstein, Mark F. (2001). Football: The Ivy League Origins of an American Obsession. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-0-8122-3627-9.
  19. ^ "Camp and His Followers: American Football 1876–1889" (PDF). The Journey to Camp: The Origins of American Football to 1889. Professional Football Researchers Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 13, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-26.
  20. ^ Vancil, Mark (Ed.) (2000). ABC Sports College Football All-Time All-America Team. New York: Hyperion Books. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-7868-6710-3.
  21. ^ Pelissero, Tom (March 24, 2017). "Exclusive: Roger Goodell says changes coming to quicken NFL games in 2017". USA Today. Retrieved March 24, 2017.

Bibliography

Carry (gridiron football)

In American football and Canadian football, a carry or rushing attempt is a statistical term equivalent to a single rushing play. The term is typically used in reference to "yards per carry", meaning yards per attempt rushing the ball. Although running backs are typically tasked with carrying the ball, any offensive player who performs a carry is known as a ball-carrier for that play, regardless of position. The yards gained on a carry are referred to as rushing yards. In the National Football League (NFL), Emmitt Smith holds the record for the most career carries, with 4,409. The current leader in yards-per-carry in NFL history with at least 750 carries is quarterback Michael Vick.The statistical treatment of yardage lost on sacks differs between the NCAA and NFL. Under NCAA rules, sacks count as rushing yards for both the player and his team. In the NFL, sacks are not counted in the quarterback's passing or rushing yardage, but are counted as part of the team's passing yardage.

Center (gridiron football)

Center (C) is a position in American football and Canadian football (in the latter the position is spelled centre, following Commonwealth spelling conventions). The center is the innermost lineman of the offensive line on a football team's offense. The center is also the player who passes (or "snaps") the ball between his legs to the quarterback at the start of each play.

In recent years, the importance of centers for a football team has increased, due to the re-emergence of 3–4 defenses. According to Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, "you need to have somebody who can neutralize that nose tackle. If you don't, everything can get screwed up. Your running game won't be effective and you'll also have somebody in your quarterback's face on every play."

Conversion (gridiron football)

The conversion, try (American football, also known as a point(s) after touchdown, PAT, or extra point), or convert (Canadian football) occurs immediately after a touchdown during which the scoring team is allowed to attempt to score one extra point by kicking the ball through the uprights in the manner of a field goal, or two points by bringing the ball into the end zone in the manner of a touchdown.

Attempts at a try or convert are scrimmage plays, with the ball initially placed at any point between the hash marks, at the option of the team making the attempt. The yard line that attempts are made from depends on the league and the type of try or convert being attempted.

If the try or convert is scored by kicking the ball through the uprights, the team gets an additional one point for their touchdown, bringing their total for that score from six points to seven. If two points are needed or desired, a two-point conversion may be attempted by running or passing from scrimmage. A successful touchdown conversion from scrimmage brings the score's total to eight.

Whether a team goes for one or two points, most rules regarding scrimmage downs, including scoring touchdowns and field goals, apply as if it were a normal American fourth-down or Canadian third-down play. Exceptions, including cases where the defense forces a turnover during a conversion attempt, vary between leagues and levels of play. One thing that sets the try apart from other plays in the NFL is that, apart from the actual points, ordinary statistics are not recorded on the try as they would be on a regular scrimmage play. For example, on December 4, 2016, Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs made an interception on a try and physically returned it 99 yards for a defensive two-point conversion. However, because it occurred on a try, Berry did not get statistical credit for the 99 yards of return yardage; nor would a player ever be credited with passing, rushing, or receiving yardage on a try.

Defensive tackle

A defensive tackle (DT) is typically the largest and strongest of the defensive players in American football. The defensive tackle typically lines up opposite one of the offensive guards. Depending on a team's individual defensive scheme, a defensive tackle may be called upon to fill several different roles. These roles may include merely holding the point of attack by refusing to be moved or penetrating a certain gap between offensive linemen to break up a play in the opponent's backfield. If a defensive tackle reads a pass play, his primary responsibility is to pursue the quarterback, or simply knock the pass down at the line if it's within arm's reach. Other responsibilities of the defensive tackle may be to pursue the screen pass or drop into coverage in a zone blitz scheme. In a traditional 4–3 defense, there is no nose tackle. Instead there is a left and right defensive tackle. Some teams, especially in the National Football League (NFL), do have a nose tackle in this scheme, but most of them do not.

End (gridiron football)

An end in American and Canadian football is a player who lines up at either end of the line of scrimmage, usually beside the tackles. Rules state that a legal offensive formation must always consist of seven players on the line of scrimmage and that the player on the end of the line constitutes an eligible receiver.

Before the advent of two platoons, in which teams fielded distinct defensive and offensive units, players that lined up on the ends of the line on both offense and defense were referred to simply as "ends". The position was used in this sense until roughly the 1960s.On offense, an end who lines up close to the other linemen is known as a tight end and is the only lineman who aside from blocking can run or catch passes. One who lines up some distance from the offensive line is known as a split end. In recent years and the proliferation of the forward pass, the term wide receiver covers both split ends and flankers (wide receivers who line up in split positions but behind the line of scrimmage). The terms “split end” and “flanker” are often replaced today with terms like "X" and "Z" receivers. Bill Carpenter was the first "Lonesome end."

On defense, there is a commonly used position called the defensive end. Its primary role is to rush the passer, as well as to stop offensive runs to the outer edges of the line of scrimmage (most often referred to as "containment"). However, as there are no rules regulating the formation of the defense, players at this position commonly take on and share multiple roles with other positions in different defensive schemes.

Fullback (gridiron football)

A fullback (FB) is a position in the offensive backfield in American and Canadian football, and is one of the two running back positions along with the halfback. Typically, fullbacks are larger than halfbacks and in most offensive schemes their duties are split between power running, pass catching, and blocking for both the quarterback and the other running back.Many great runners in the history of American football have been fullbacks, including Jim Brown, Marion Motley, Jim Taylor, Franco Harris, Larry Csonka, John Riggins, Christian Okoye, and Levi Jackson. However, many of these runners would retroactively be labeled as halfbacks, due to their position as the primary ball carrier; they were primarily listed as fullbacks due to their size and did not often perform the run-blocking duties expected of modern fullbacks. Examples of players who have excelled at the hybrid running-blocking-pass catching role include Mike Alstott, Daryl Johnston, and Lorenzo Neal.

Guard (American and Canadian football)

In American and Canadian football, a guard (G) is a player who lines up between the center and the tackles on the offensive line of a football team on the line of scrimmage used primarily for blocking. Right guards (RG) is the term for the guards on the right of the offensive line, while left guards (LG) are on the left side. Guards are to the right or left of the center.

The guard's job is to protect the quarterback from the incoming linemen during pass plays, as well as creating openings (holes) for the running backs to head through. Guards are automatically considered ineligible receivers, so they cannot intentionally touch a forward pass, unless it is to recover a fumble or is first touched by a defender or eligible receiver.

James Murphy (gridiron football)

James Murphy (born October 10, 1959) was a receiver for eight seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.

Jim Mills (gridiron football)

James Anthony Mills (born September 23, 1961) is a former American football and Canadian football offensive lineman.

After graduating from Richmond Senior Secondary School in 1979, he played for the University of Hawaii before playing 2 years in the National Football League for the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts. While attending the University, Jim was trained in powerlifting by strength mentor Karl Holfeld. After his NFL career he headed to the Canadian Football League, where he played numerous seasons including with his hometown team the BC Lions. He won the CFL's Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award in 1990 and 1991. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2009. Upon retirement, Mills credited former Hawaii teammate Nick Castrow for his success. "Nick had that rare combination of power and quickness not often seen. And yet he was the hardest worker I ever saw. I always strove to be more like Nick"

Lineman (gridiron football)

In gridiron football, a lineman is a player who specializes in play at the line of scrimmage. The linemen of the team currently in possession of the ball are the offensive line, while linemen on the opposing team are the defensive line. A number of NFL rules specifically address restrictions and requirements for the offensive line, whose job is to help protect the quarterback from getting sacked for a loss, or worse, fumbling. The defensive line is covered by the same rules that apply to all defensive players. Linemen are usually the largest players on the field in both height and weight, since their positions usually require less running and more strength than skill positions.

Nickelback (gridiron football)

In American football, a nickelback is a cornerback or safety who serves as the additional defensive back in a nickel defense. A base defense consists of two cornerbacks and two safeties, making the nickelback the fifth defensive back on the field, thus tying name of the position to the name of the North American 5-cent piece.

Usually the nickelback will take the place of a linebacker, so if the team had been in a 4–3 formation, the four defensive linemen would remain, alongside only two linebackers and now-five defensive backs, creating a 4-2-5 formation. However, some teams will replace a lineman rather than a linebacker, creating a three linemen, three linebacker and five defensive back alignment, a 3–3–5 formation. If an offensive team always uses three or more wide receivers, a defense may turn to a nickel defense for their base package on most plays. Usually extra defensive backs, such as a nickelback, are substituted into the defense in situations where the opposing offense is likely to attempt a forward pass, such as 3rd-and-long, or when extra receivers are substituted into the opposing offense.

The nickelback is the third cornerback or safety on the depth chart. The nickelback is not considered a starting position because the starting formation for a defense has only two cornerbacks and two safeties. Defensive formations with three or more cornerbacks (or three safeties) are used often enough that a nickelback will usually see moderate playing time (particularly in the modern, pass-oriented NFL) as well as subbing in for the starting corners. In certain packages (or if injuries depleted the depth chart), smaller free safeties or strong safeties can fill the spot of nickelback, as well. Their role may become that of a pass rusher from outside the box.

In Canadian football, where five defensive backs are considered the norm, the position is known as a defensive halfback.

Reception (gridiron football)

In American football and Canadian football, a reception, also known informally as a catch, is part of a play in which a forward pass from behind the line of scrimmage is received (caught) by a player in bounds, who, after the catch, proceeds to either score a touchdown or be downed. Yards gained from the receiving play are credited to the receiver as receiving yards. If such a pass is not caught by the receiver, it is called an incomplete pass or simply an incompletion.

A reception should not be confused with a lateral, also known as a lateral pass or backward pass, which occurs when the ball is thrown backwards or sideways to a teammate (that is, no part of the pass trajectory is toward the opponent's goal line).

Royal Copeland (Canadian football)

Royal Copeland (October 12, 1924 – August 8, 2011) was a Canadian football running back who played at the elite level from 1943 to 1956.

Copeland won four Grey Cups with the Toronto Argonauts. He became a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1988. Along with Joe Krol they were known as the Gold Dust Twins. Copeland is the only player to score a touchdown in three consecutive Grey Cup games: 1945, 1946, and 1947.

During the Second World War when the Argonaut football operations were suspended, Royal Copeland played in the Ontario Rugby Football Union (ORFU) in 1943 with Toronto Navy HMCS York.

Rush (gridiron football)

Rushing is an action taken by the offense that means to advance the ball by running with it, as opposed to passing, or kicking.Any rushing player is called a rusher.

Safety (gridiron football position)

Safety, historically known as a safetyman, is a position in American and Canadian football played by a member of the defense. The safeties are defensive backs who line up from ten to fifteen yards in front of the line of scrimmage. There are two variations of the position in a typical American formation: the free safety (FS) and the strong safety (SS). Their duties depend on the defensive scheme. The defensive responsibilities of the safety and cornerback usually involve pass coverage towards the middle and sidelines of the field, respectively. While American (11-player) formations generally use two safeties, Canadian (12-player) formations generally have one safety and two defensive halfbacks, a position not used in the American game.

As professional and college football have become more focused on the passing game, safeties have become more involved in covering the eligible pass receivers.Safeties are the last line of defense; they are expected to be reliable tacklers, and many safeties rank among the hardest hitters in football. Safety positions can also be converted cornerbacks, either by design (Byron Jones) or as a cornerback ages (Charles Woodson, DeAngelo Hall, Lardarius Webb, Tramon Williams).

Historically, in the era of the one-platoon system, the safety was known as the defensive fullback (specifically the free safety; the strong safety would be a defensive halfback, a term still in Canadian parlance) or goaltender.

Safety (gridiron football score)

In gridiron football, the safety (American football) or safety touch (Canadian football) is a scoring play that results in two points being awarded to the scoring team. Safeties can be scored in a number of ways, such as when a ball carrier is tackled in his own end zone or when a foul is committed by the offense in their own end zone. After a safety is scored in American football, the ball is kicked off to the team that scored the safety from the 20-yard line; in Canadian football, the scoring team also has the options of taking control of the ball at their own 35-yard line or kicking off the ball, also at their own 35-yard line. The ability of the scoring team to receive the ball through a kickoff differs from the touchdown and field goal, which require the scoring team to kick the ball off to the scored upon team. Despite being of relatively low point value, safeties can have a significant impact on the result of games, and Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats estimated that safeties have a greater abstract value than field goals, despite being worth a point less, due to the field position and reclaimed possession gained off the safety kick.Safeties are the least common method of scoring in American football but are not rare occurrences – since 1932, a safety has occurred once every 14.31 games in the National Football League (NFL), or about once a week under current scheduling rules. A much rarer occurrence is the one-point safety, which can be scored by the offense on an extra point or two-point conversion attempt; those have occurred at least twice in NCAA Division I football since 1996, most recently at the 2013 Fiesta Bowl. No conversion safeties have occurred since at least 1940 in the NFL. A conversion safety by the defense is also possible, though highly unlikely; although this has never occurred, it is the only possible way a team could finish with a single point in an American football game.

Tackle (gridiron football position)

Tackle is a playing position in American and Canadian football. Historically, in the one-platoon system prevalent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a tackle played on both offense and defense. In the modern system of specialized units, offensive tackle and defensive tackle are separate positions, and the stand-alone term "tackle" refers to the offensive tackle position only. The offensive tackle (OT, T) is a position on the offensive line, left and right. Like other offensive linemen, their job is to block: to physically keep defenders away from the offensive player who has the football and enable him to advance the football and eventually score a touchdown. The term "tackle" is a vestige of an earlier era of football in which the same players played both offense and defense.

A tackle is the strong position on the offensive line. They power their blocks with quick steps and maneuverability. The tackles are mostly in charge of the outside protection. If the tight end goes out for a pass, the tackle must cover everyone that his guard does not, plus whoever the tight end is not covering. Usually they defend against defensive ends. In the NFL, offensive tackles often measure over 6 ft 4 in (193 cm) and 300 lb (140 kg).

According to Sports Illustrated football journalist Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman, offensive tackles consistently achieve the highest scores, relative to the other positional groups, on the Wonderlic Test, with an average of 26. The Wonderlic is taken before the draft to assess each player's aptitude for learning and problem solving; a score of 26 is estimated to correspond with an IQ of 113.

Turnover (gridiron football)

In gridiron football, a turnover occurs when the team with the ball loses possession of the ball without kicking it, which is then gained by the other team. In American football, the two events that are officially classified as "turnovers" are fumbles (accidental physical loss of a live ball a player has possession of) or interceptions (passes intended for a member of the passing team, but caught by a member of the opposing team).

In addition, the term "turnover" is often used to refer to a turnover on downs, when a team attempts to gain a first down, touchdown or field goal on a fourth down play (known as a fourth down conversion), but is unsuccessful. When this occurs, the opposing team automatically gains possession at the spot to which the ball was advanced at the end of the play, unless a penalty has occurred (every defensive penalty, if accepted, results either in an automatic first down or a replay of down). In this event, the team that has lost possession is not permitted an opportunity to advance the ball any further.

National Football League game statistics recording turnovers only include lost fumbles and intercepted passes; turnovers on downs are not included (e.g., a team whose only turnovers are turnovers on downs is credited with having "no turnovers").

In Canadian football, turnovers generally occur in a similar manner to American football, except that a turnover on downs will occur after three downs instead of four. In addition, Canadian Football League statistics record turnovers on downs on an equal basis to turnovers caused by fumbles and interceptions.

Wide receiver

A wide receiver, also referred to as wideouts or simply receivers, is an offensive position in American and Canadian football, and is a key player. They get their name because they are split out "wide" (near the sidelines), farthest away from the rest of the team. Wide receivers are among the fastest players on the field. The wide receiver functions as the pass-catching specialist.

Gridiron football concepts
Codes
Levels of play
Field
Scoring
Turnovers
Downs
Play clock
Statistics
Practice
Officiating
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Stick and ball sports
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Professional gridiron football leagues in North America

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