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How to Explain Football to Your Girlfriend

How to Explain Football Positions
It doesn't have to be this way.
It doesn't have to be this way.

Thanks to big-name pro players like Tom Brady and Tony Romo, who routinely pop up in commercials, PSAs, most beautiful people lists or on the cover of tabloids, most women know a little bit about quarterbacks. But ask them the difference between a halfback and a fullback, and you'll probably get a blank stare. If you give your girlfriend an overview of what each player does, it will go a long way toward helping her understand the ins and outs of the game. Let's start with the offense.

  • Quarterback -- He's the leader of the offense and either throws the ball to a receiver, hands it off to a running back or runs it himself. He may even call the plays the offense will run.
  • Receivers -- Receivers run a route, or pattern, downfield in order to catch a pass thrown by the quarterback and advance it up the field. On non-passing plays, they may block a defensive player.
  • Running backs -- Their primary job is to take the ball from the quarterback and sprint down the field without being tackled, but they can also catch the ball. On non-running plays, they may also block the defense in order to protect the quarterback.
  • Offensive linemen -- The burliest of the bunch, these are the players who line up closest to the quarterback and are responsible for blocking the other team's defense, either to make a path for the running back or to give the quarterback enough time to pass the ball. One of the linemen, the center, is also responsible for hiking the ball to the quarterback.

Now let's take a look at the defense:

  • Defensive linemen -- The defensive line is made up of defensive tackles and defensive ends, who line up directly across from the offensive line. Their goal, simply put, is to put pressure on and tackle whoever has the ball.
  • Linebackers -- The linebackers' job is to go wherever they're needed depending on the action on the field. So they might rush the quarterback, cover a wide receiver or running back or try to intercept the ball.
  • Defensive backs -- Consisting of cornerbacks and safeties, the defensive backs are tasked with defending the receivers, either keeping them from catching the ball or tackling them after they've caught it.

You also have your special teams players, like the kicker and punter, who only come into the game in certain situations.

Now that you've given her a rundown of the players, help enlighten her about the fundamental strategies of the sport, which you can read about in the next section.