Woody: How to speak football

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It’s pigskin time in Tennessee. Players are fresh and eager, fans are in a frenzy, and coaches are waxing eloquent about their team’s prospects.

Every team is undefeated.

Every player is an All-Star.

This could be The Year.

Hello Heisman, look out Super Bowl.

“Excited” is the operative word, echoing through locker rooms form Pee Wee to high school, from colleges to the NFL. They all excited.

If you don’t believe it, check out any of the thousands of player and coach interviews between now and kickoff.
They can’t say hello without adding how excited they are.

They’re excited about eating breakfast. They’re excited about tying their shoes. They’re excited about going to the bathroom.

A football player’s first word, as a toddler, was “excited.”

During this exciting time, excited coaches start excitedly talking coach-ese, a linguistic combo of Vince Lombardi and Daffy Duck, liberally sprinkled with banalities, bromides and a side order of fermented cliches.
Deciphering some timeless favorites:

+ “We’re going to play them one game at a time.”
A wise decision, because if they played two at a time the field would become awfully crowded.

+ “We need to work on our execution.”
Agreed. Try a firing squad.

“They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like we do.”
Yes, but they wear bigger pants.

+ “Our guys showed up in great condition.”
Except for the fatties throwing up behind the bleachers.

+ Our offensive linemen spent a lot of time in the weight room during the off-season.”
Eating doughnuts.

+ “It rains on both ends of the field.”
And depending on talent, it varies from sprinkle to monsoon.

+ “Our players have a lot of heart.”
The depth chart does not include heart, just size and weight.

+ “Our guys showed a lot of hustle.”
They certainly did, getting off the field after a 48-0 loss.

+ “We hope to keep it close going into the fourth quarter.”
Or until the coin toss.

+ “We’re going to give one hundred and ten percent.”
Mathematically impossible, illustrating the need for more classes in arithmetic and fewer in Advanced Ceramics and Theory of Pottery.

+ “We’ll leave it all on the field.”
Where else would you leave it? On the bus? In the laundry mat? At Toots?

+ “There was no quit in this team.”
Although the players would have preferred to, at the end of the third quarter, as did most of the fans.

+ “We’re going to try some trick plays this season.”
Like blocking and tackling.

+ “Our quarterback’s eligibility is being evaluated.”
By a prison parole board.

+ “There’s more to this game than winning.”
Please don’t fire me.

+ “Wait till next year.”
Surely it can’t be this bad again.
But this IS next year. And yes, we’re excited.

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Larry Woody
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