Football, where a turnover is not a cherry-filled pastry

Staff writerJanuary 29, 2014 

The football neophyte, who will remain nameless and shameless, had a quick question for her colleague, a former sportswriter.

“What’s a turnover?” she asked.

“Are you asking because you’re envisioning a cherry-filled pastry?” the former sportswriter asked.

She said she wasn’t, but she probably was.

Football is packed with lingo that can be a tad confusing to those who don’t watch the game. But don’t worry, here’s a guide that will clear up some of those terms.


  • What it isn’t: A delicious but fattening pastry.
  • What it is: Accidentally giving the ball to the other team by a fumble (losing control of the ball and allowing the other team to recover it) or an interception (throwing a pass that is caught by the other team).


  • What it isn’t: The illegal transportation of goods by nudists. Something Russell Wilson would never do.
  • What it is: When a quarterback runs toward either sideline without the benefit of a blocker. Something Wilson would do.


  • What it isn’t: Convicts chained together and performing menial labor.
  • What it is: The crew that handles the first-down chain and the down indicator box.


  • What it isn’t: The Canadian rock band a Boise music critic once famously pointed out had fewer Facebook fans than pickles.
  • What it is: When the defense adds a fifth defensive back (instead of the usual four) to defend the pass. Five makes a nickel, so it makes sense. Add a sixth and he’s called a dimeback, which doesn’t make sense.


  • What they aren’t: Everything you need to film a Western.
  • What they are: When the quarterback takes the snap several yards behind the center he’s in the shotgun, which both men probably prefer to the standard hands-on-the-undercarriage approach. The Pistol (which is run from the shotgun) is a versatile offensive formation best run by an agile quarterback. And a gunner is a player with little regard for his body who runs down the sideline on punts to tackle the return man.


  • What they aren’t: White out, the place you put the quarterback and a sign you’re blow drying your hair too much.
  • What they are: Other names for wide receiver.


  • What it isn’t: Paper or plastic.
  • What it is: Tackling the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage when he is trying to pass.


  • What it isn’t: The guy on the team with the nicest bum.
  • What it is: A player close to the offensive line who both blocks and is eligible to catch passes.


  • What it isn’t: Stains left by something legal in Washington and Colorado.
  • What it is: Those white yard marks creating two lines down the middle of the field. Each play starts with the ball snapped from on or between the hash marks.


  • What it isn’t: New Jersey.
  • What it is: Besides uniforms, it’s the only other acceptable name for what a team wears. Everything might match, but football players don’t wear outfits.

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497

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