There’s Football, and There’s Life. But Mainly There’s Football.

4 Sep

by Roger White  

It hit me the other day, my genteel tribe, as I sat watching the glorious first football weekend of the holy month of September. The remote—it hit me square in the back of the head. The wife trying to get my attention again; something about dinner or a burglar or something. That woman’s got aim. Anyway, then it really hit me, as I listened to that specialized vocabulary that signals the start of a new season. That magical lexicon of the gridiron just so happens to have context—and in quite similar fashion, I might add—to the life of this middle-aged hubby, dad of two teenage girls (help me, Lord), owner of a thoroughly over-mortgaged house, and slumlord to two very ill-behaved pets (one fat, incontinent dog and one nasty, lethargic cat).

I began listing in my head these terms that carry dual meaning in my quaint little life, but the terms kept slipping out of my head where the wife konked me with the remote. The den started getting cluttered with all these words falling to my feet, so I figured I should sweep them up and list them.

So here they are, expressions o’ the gridiron and their “other” meanings, in alphabetical order for your convenient reference:

All-out Blitz. Usually run when Mom’s away, this is a designed play in which both daughters beseech Dad in unison to pleeeeeease take them to the corner store for basic life necessities (e.g., gum, ice cream, Pringles).

End Around. Another regular from the daughter playbook, this is a misdirection play used to call Mom’s or Dad’s attention to one daughter while the other one either (A) sneaks in or out of the house; (B) cleans up whatever she broke; or (C) dashes to the bathroom to attempt repairs to her purple hair dye job.

False Start. Called almost exclusively on Mom, this mix-up occurs whenever the family is set to go out, either to a restaurant, shopping, movie, etc., and Mom says “I’m ready.” Family members then wait in the car for another 25 minutes before realizing that “I’m ready” means “another half-hour” with regard to Mom.

Illegal Shift. This penalty is called on either one daughter or the other, depending on who stole the front passenger position in the car after the first daughter clearly called “shotgun” before the outing began.

Nickel Back. This term refers to the change Dad often gets back from mall excursions by Daughter #1, Daughter #2, or Mom—or, more often, all three of them running the same play. (See also End Around.)

Pass Interference. A tactic used almost exclusively by Dad, this is a time-honored anti-flirting measure employed by dads all over, usually achieved by physically stepping in between the line of sight of boys and young men trying to catch the eye of Daughter #1 or vice-versa. Recently, much to Dad’s dismay, this has begun to apply to Daughter #2, as well. (See also Shotgun Formation.)

Prevent Defense. This is a tactic often utilized by Dad to avoid manual labor, mostly on weekends, by pretending to be soundly asleep on the couch (or whatever furniture he happens to be lounging on) when called upon by Mom.

Shotgun Formation. Although an actual shotgun is optional here, this is the classic formation used by Dad by sitting on the front-porch swing when daughters are due home from dates.

Touchback. A nerve-wracking phenomenon occurring almost exclusively on family road trips, this is when daughters #1 and #2 vie for territorial rights in the back seat of the car. The constantly recurring touchback commotion almost inevitably ends with the command, “If I have to turn this car around!”

Two-minute Warning. This mad scramble by Dad is triggered by the appearance of the mother-in-law’s car in front of the house. It takes mom-in-law approximately two minutes to make it from her car to the house, by which time Dad must have himself hidden away in the den or the master bedroom. If not, he is often subjected to many Bombs and Cheap Shots regarding personal appearance, yard maintenance, career ambition, etc.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit


66 Responses to “There’s Football, and There’s Life. But Mainly There’s Football.”

  1. Trinity River September 4, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Knowing very little about football. I appreciate your definition of these mystifying terms. 🙂

    • oldspouse September 5, 2012 at 8:33 am #

      My pleasure, Trinity. Gear up for a looong season.

      • harirain September 6, 2012 at 5:30 am #


  2. shrink on the couch September 4, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    False Start – Guilty as charged. Must be a joisey thing (first football game played there, afterall, which, in this case, was not a false start).

    • oldspouse September 5, 2012 at 8:35 am #

      You Joisey Goils, I swear. My head still hurts. I gotta go easy on the prickly pear next time.

  3. Chris Goodrow September 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    Great post!! False start and the prevent defense are common around our household. I can’t wait for the start of the season tonight.

  4. Lu September 5, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    Very creative, loved it! I particularly liked the “Two-minute Warning” classic! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • oldspouse September 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

      thanks, Lu! Best to you!


  5. zachbissett September 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    NFL touchbacks are much more rare than car trip touchbacks.

  6. The Guat September 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    The Holy Month of September … love it. College Football rocks. This was a funny post. How it literally hit you. I particularly love Pass Interference and Two-Minute Warning. My favorite? False Start. HA! That happens here all the time. Funny stuff.

    • oldspouse September 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

      Tanx, TG. It is our religion, ya know.

  7. groovylove September 5, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    Love it! I can relate to a great many of these, especially the “false start” and the “illegal shift”; very funny and quite accurate for some of us. I really like the layout of your blog too! And congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  8. Matt_S_Law September 5, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    These are great! Do you have anything for Intentional Grounding and Calling an Audible? I see a part 2 in the future…

    • oldspouse September 5, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

      Yeah, I think there could be several columns worth of fodder here.

  9. madhaus7 September 5, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    A very humorous post! Being the only man in a house full of women, good luck my friend! Happy Football season.

    • oldspouse September 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

      And it came none too soon!

  10. girlandthoughts September 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    I clicked on this post expecting a post about football. Little did I realise you meant American football. Confused British girl right here.

    • oldspouse September 5, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

      Terribly sorry, my dear. If it helps any, my favorite bands of all time are the Beatles, Stones, Yes, the Who, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin, in no particular order. : ) …and Tom Jones. He’s Welsh, I think, but…

      • girlandthoughts September 5, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

        Haha, no need to apologise. These terms are completely alien to me! And British consists of English, Scottish, and Welsh so you’ve got Tom Jones covered to. 🙂

  11. jillkellychandler September 5, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    This is AMAZING! I just forwarded to my dad who has had to put up with three girls as a father. He will love this post. Can’t wait to read more on your blog.

    • oldspouse September 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

      Thanks! I’m sure your dad can relate.

      • jillkellychandler September 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

        Oh for sure — he’s very fond of the “shotgun formation” and used it quite regularly when we were all in high school!

  12. Frank Garcia September 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    HAHAHAHAAHAHA! As a die hard football fan, this is incredibly hilarious!
    Love it!

  13. makais September 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Reblogged this on Makais Blog and commented:
    great stuff

  14. mplsgossipgirl September 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    HAHA, This makes me feel better about my fantasy league, since I know nothing about football. It is truly all relate-able.

    • oldspouse September 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

      thanks, and good luck with that! i never win at fantasy.

      • bennylee September 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

        If it makes you feel better, I watch all the time and I never win either! Let’s just go ahead and call it luck! Good luck!!

  15. bennylee September 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    This is brilliant – thanks for posting! I’ll be sure to share this with my wife prior to taking over the TV for hours 🙂 Prevent Defense was my favorite!

    You might enjoy reading my rules for watching football – help to further the education 🙂

    • oldspouse September 5, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

      I like respecting the lucky seat. very true.

  16. keiththegreen September 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    Great post, and well deserved to be Freshly Pressed. I used to refer to my ex as the Commish, as she was always changing the rules on me.

  17. Aerykah September 5, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    Great post! I really enjoyed reading it!
    I believe I’ve seen most if not all of those plays… 😉

  18. cartoonmick September 5, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    I know very little about American football, Roger, but I can see a lot of value (for me) in “Prevent Defense”.

    If I was living in America, and knew a bit more about your football, I’d draw some cartoons (on your definitions) and add them to the cartoons on my blog.



  19. bamamagput September 5, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    Rick Bragg has a wonderful piece about the History of SEC football you can find on my blog. I live in Alabama and I understand football. In fact I think my husband decided to date me because I was a good Jeopardy partner. I easily handled the taxonomy and botany categories and I could hold my on when it came to football. We are a Crimson Tide family. We find Coach Bryant’s wise words always help soothe the most difficult moments of parenting. Just Monday, I was able the use a famous quote from Coach Bryant when my daughter was complaining about the difficulty of her calculus test. Remember dear borrowing his slow and drawling words, “It… is not… the size… of the dog… in the fight that matters, it is the …size… of the fight… in the dog.” Hahaha! She thought I was a genius.

  20. Wanda September 5, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    This was a fun read. Congrats on Freshly Pressed–definitely well deserved.

    I like to think I’m a football (and NASCAR) fan, but I also have to admit I only really pay attention when the announcers start talking louder and/or faster, and I’m forever grateful for instant replay so I get to see what I missed when I was distracted by some non-sports activity (blogging, cleaning, cooking, ironing, etc.).

  21. rizalID September 5, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    football is goodest play in the world, sob …

  22. mburatov September 5, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    And don’t forget – personal foul!!

  23. ekadevi87 September 5, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    It’s my world too 😀 especially for La Liga 😀

    • jennycantu September 6, 2012 at 1:34 am #

      This was fantastic! LOVED IT! I must confess that I should probably have been traded for all the false starts I’ve caused my team, but at least I’ve been careful enough to avoid fumbling babies! I think that makes me a keeper! 😉

      Kudos for this Freshly Pressed entry! 🙂

  24. Cate Payne September 5, 2012 at 11:23 pm #


  25. carischoices September 6, 2012 at 1:47 am #

    Reblogged this on Cari's Choices and commented:
    😀 Laughter is still the best medicine….and this post is hilarious!!
    Being a sports fan myself, I can actually relate, or can picture, my own family members in this article.
    Brilliantly written!! 😀

  26. truthsparked September 6, 2012 at 4:52 am #

    This was brilliant…and as a mom of 5 daughters, 2 teens and 1 on the cusp, a playbook I will be reading over and over again!

  27. harirain September 6, 2012 at 5:55 am #


  28. lexiesnana September 6, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    Don’t know a lot about football except to know it brings on swearing and nashing of teeth in my son-in-laws home and we have to hide the grandbabies.

  29. MJ Conner September 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    Love this. Very funny indeed!

  30. Shelby September 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    I will be thinking about your list on Sunday, and it has made my experience with last night’s opening game that much more special. …And, that’s a feat, I mean can you believe the destruction Dallas laid on the Super Bowl Champs?? Where has this Romo been hiding?? In short…great post.

  31. thespacebetween2 September 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    For someone that knew nothing of your rugby like sport that somehow calls itself football, I found it a very informative and enjoyable article! Taught me a lot.

    Please check out my blog on:

  32. tito61 September 6, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    I can relate 100%! Good stuff. I’m thinking, “the fumble” might be an interesting addition to your line up. I’ll let you fill in the blanks.

  33. MsGeeTx September 6, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    True football fan. This was absolutely enjoyable. Almost as good as the game last night.

  34. kalabalu September 7, 2012 at 2:51 am #


  35. Read Stuff With Me! September 7, 2012 at 6:41 am #

    Haha..Enjoyed it 🙂

    Check out my blog:

  36. Ryan September 7, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    Those are some great phrases. I thought I’d bring up one more I didn’t see: the Zone Defense. It’s what happened to us when went from 2 kids (man coverage) to three (Zone Defense). While our kids aren’t as old as yours seem to be (though I’m already working on early revisions of the anti- boyfriend Psycho Dad maneuver) they use this scheme to great effect on us when at restaurants, the mall, camping, etc. And much like Aaron Rodgers can tear apart the other team’s pass coverage, our kids use it with precision and daring as they, too, try to escape our coverage to commit whatever misdeeds seem like a good idea at the time to the minds of 3, 6, and 8 year olds… We need a new Defensive Coordinator!

  37. mdprincing September 7, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    great stuff, I now have code names I can share with my buddies and randomly throw out at home (all girls but me), starting with the two minute warning

  38. Tom September 7, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Correction…Football IS life 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  39. futuristichik September 12, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    Scrolling to see how long the intriguing title led, I began reading from the bottom up, and didn’t stop until I reached the bottom again.
    Very well written and expressed Thanks to your family for the mind provoking humor in Football!

  40. Pit September 13, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    Reblogged this on A German Expat's Life in Texas and commented:
    I just happened to come across this funny posting, and thought it might fit in with what I blogged about American football.

  41. Pit September 15, 2012 at 12:23 am #

    I hope that you don’t mind that reblogged this on my blog “A German Expat’s Life in Texas” []
    Take care, and have a good one,

  42. lucidreamss September 16, 2012 at 1:25 am #

    Reblogged this on lucidreamss.

  43. thussaytheraven October 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    Funny & true. I’m married to a Texas HS FB Coach & we have 2 teen daughters. 🙂


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