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In honor of the SuperBowl, which I as a Brit know nothing about

[ by Charles Cameron — the curious language and precise scientific timing of tomorrow’s game ]

The curious language of the Superbowl:

Memorable Trick Plays of Super Bowls Past

Sometimes trick plays are all about players’ resourcefulness—what they’re willing to do with what they’ve got. Last year, at Super Bowl LII, Nick Foles, the Eagles’ backup quarterback, who has become known for his fighting spirit and mystifyingly magic touch, called and executed perhaps the most famous trick play in recent history, “The Philly Special,” which is actually a combination of three lesser trick plays: a snap to the running back, a pitch to the tight end, and a pass to the quarterback. In 2006, at Super Bowl XL, the Steelers pulled off a similarly discombobulating series of tricks-within-a-trick, a fake double-reverse pass that ended with a forty-three-yard touchdown pass by Antwaan Randle El, the receiver with the golden arm.

Other trick plays come from coaches with no-guts-no-glory attitudes, who approach games as if they are leading the Spartans into battle. In 2010, at Super Bowl XLIV, the Saints’ coach, Sean Payton, successfully called the first ever onside kick to be attempted before the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl game (a play he nicknamed The Ambush).

There’s a video on the New Yorker page those paras are taken from, but I’m not going to steal it — if you’re into [American] football, you should go watch it there, and read the whole piece while you’re at it!


Somewhere else, I saw a reference to “throwing the hook and ladder” — would anyone care to translate? That’s the most troublesome of the phrases I’ve seen, but “snap to the running back, a pitch to the tight end, and a pass to the quarterback” (above) comes close — what’s the difference between a “snap”, a “pitch”, and a “pass”? — and a “double-reverse pass” (above, likewise) — what’s that? Do two reverses make a straightforward? If not, why not?

Oh, and then a friend mentioned “flea flickers” and “quarterback sneaks”. Language is a terrific sport!


The precise scientific timing of the Superbowl:

For nerds who may wonder, turning aside from the upcoming game to my twitter feed, there’s this:

What Time Is the Super Bowl?

6:30 p.m. is the time the Super Bowl will start in Atlanta. Most of us are not in Atlanta. So for us, the game will start later than that. You need the time for the images to be captured by the cameras, be broadcasted to air or cable, be captured by my TV screen, leave my TV screen, get to my eyes (not to mention the time my brain needs to process and decode the images). You may say this is fast — of course this is fast. But it takes some time nevertheless, and I am a physicist, I need precision. For most of us, the game will actually start some time later than the kickoff in Atlanta.



3 Responses to “In honor of the SuperBowl, which I as a Brit know nothing about”

  1. Grurray Says:

    Charles, the hook and ladder is a pass and pitch play. Usually how it unfolds is the offensive receiver runs up the middle of the field into an area referred to as “underneath”. This is the middle ground between the big defenders blasting each other down at the line of scrimmage, and the secondary running around farther up the field in pass coverage.
    The receiver will run in a “J” pattern. This is the hook. It not only resembles a hook, but it also “hooks” the secondary defenders by drawing them down field back to converge onto the receiver.
    The receiver catches the ball, hopefully in a crowd of distracted defenders. Just then another offensive player, hopefully unnoticed, runs up the side. The receiver then pitches the ball to the other offensive player completing the play. The progression is somewhat ladder-like in a way I suppose.
    This was a famous hook and ladder play from the 1982 playoffs Miami vs San Diego, the second greatest NFL game ever played


    You can see the hook clearly in slow motion at around the 1:20 mark

  2. Charles Cameron Says:

    Much appreciated, Sir. I trust you will enjoy the Game..

  3. Charles Cameron Says:

    Interesting —
    Trump 2016:

    Football has become soft like our country has become soft

    Trump 2019:

    I just don’t like the reports that I see coming out having to do with football — I mean, it’s a dangerous sport and I think it’s- I- it’s- really tough … I hate to say it because I love to watch football. I think the NFL is a great product, but I really think that as far as my son — well I’ve heard NFL players saying they wouldn’t let their sons play football. So. It’s not totally unique, but I- I would have a hard time with it.

    It was the Vanity Fair piece — first link above — which pointed up the contrast for me.

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