If you can’t tell your knickers from your bean bags or your jammers from your punters, then fear not – our translator is on hand to ensure you have your lingo licked before the NFL returns to London…
NFL London: Seattle Seahawks v Oakland Raiders, Sunday 14 October, 6pm, Sky Sports Action/HD (CH 517/507) + 5.30pm, BBC Two/HD (CH 102/162), continues 7pm on BBC RB 1 (CH 991)
A swathe of brightly coloured banners, an uncharacteristic and oddly infectious sense of optimism, and a veritable army of oversized jerseys on the underground can only mean one thing… the NFL is back in London!
More than 70,000 American football fans are expected to pack into Wembley Stadium on Sunday, where 2014 Super Bowl champions the Seattle Seahawks will take on the Oakland Raiders in the latest International Series game to be played in the capital. And both teams will be looking to improve on their somewhat lacklustre starts to the season.
But with the hard-hitting, all-American action on show this weekend being accompanied by a (fried chicken) bucket-load of terms, it can be hard for us locals to stay on top of the game.
So, in order to avoid looking like a golden goose this weekend as NFL fans swarm the capital with their American footy chatter, check out our handy translator ahead of the game…
Your NFL jargon cheat sheet!
Tempting as it is to follow this up with “crackle” and “pop”, this term doesn’t refer to the delicious student lunchtime snack. In the NFL, the “snap” is the American equivalent of rugby’s scrum, whereby one player crouches over the ball and, after yelling “Hike!”, throws it backwards to the quarterback and starts an offensive play. Speaking of which…
This one you might have heard before. Offensive players (an attacker who can score points, not someone who’s just plain rude) are often the most important players on any sports team. In the NFL, a quarterback’s performance can win or lose their side a game. Put simply, they’re not unlike Spanish footballer Andrés Iniesta – their looping throws enabling receivers to score touchdowns. Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Ryan Fitzpatrick has been particularly impressive this season, both for his unbelievable form and emphatic celebration style.
Alas for London’s resident geezers, this term doesn’t refer to Billy Bunters or customers cruising for the nuttiest deals in town. The punter is, in fact, the player who boots the ball hard into the opposing side’s end of the field from a kick-off or scrimmage. Think of a burlier, helmeted Jonny Wilkinson, and you’re on the right track.
Attackers are cool, but do you know who’s cooler? That’s right, the “absolute units” that are tasked with bringing those pesky, glory-hunting attackers down to Earth. Enter the lineman: a hulking, fleshy wall that can stop a tornado in its tracks (probably).
Gunners and jammers
To many a Londoner or English football fan, the term gunner will no doubt evoke images of those rampant Invincibles in red and white, and a large green dinosaur. To many an American football fan however, a gunner is the player who legs it up the field after a restart in order to tackle whichever opposing player catches the ball. The jammer is the player tasked with stopping the gunner in their tracks. If it sounds brutal, that’s because it absolutely is.
No, the players don’t wear knickers. As amusing as that would be, it’s actually the officials who wear knickers. No! Not like that! Unlike the officials in the Premier League, who are forced to spend the winter games shivering in their socks, their counterparts in the NFL are permitted to wear a pair of warming, baggy white trousers – or knickers – to stave off those chilling winter breezes. Speaking of officials…
While the image of a referee launching a bean bag onto the pitch to signify a foul is a hilarious one, the NFL unfortunately takes a much more sensible approach. Though they bear the same name as their larger, squishier counterparts, the bean bags used in the NFL as markers are significantly smaller. In other words, they’re the NFL’s version of the small cans of white foam used to mark a free-kick spot in the Premier League.
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