The Rules of Football, As I Understand Them

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This week, Deadspin and Jezebel swap beats to celebrate America’s most dangerous and controversial pastimes: football and fashion, two sports that have far more in common than you think.

I understand that football is something that happens around me: on Thanksgiving, at bars, maybe a Super Bowl party where I will not actually watch the Super Bowl. Still, after a lifetime of exposure, I have never learned the rules of football or paid close attention to anyone trying to tell me something about football. The following is my attempt to explain the rules of the game without looking anything up:

The teams flip a coin to determine who gets to go first. The team that goes first holds the ball and throws it to each other. The quarterback does the throwing. Usually the point of the first throw, and every first throw after a team gets the ball during the game, is to trick the other team into thinking that they are going to throw it somewhere else. After that, the other players throw the ball around while trying to get closer to the finish line or end zone. When a player loses control of the ball because he’s tackled or drops it and someone on the other team picks it up, the game reverses direction. It goes on like this for a long time. There is a position called defensive end. Linebacker. The players mostly have to use their hands. There are maybe one or two times you can kick the football, but it’s mostly about carrying the ball and catching it. There is a field goal, which is maybe when you do a big kick instead of throwing the ball when your team first gets the ball. Pretty sure you can’t randomly punt the ball mid-play. Players tackle other players extremely aggressively but also there are fouls. Maybe you can’t hit anyone in the head. Pretty sure you can grab someone by the ankle and keep holding on until they fall down, but you can’t do that in basketball. It’s also a foul when the ball goes out of bounds. If you catch the ball going out of bounds but land your body partly inside the line then it’s not a foul. Getting a touchdown is six points. Kicking through the poles is two points or three points. There are four quarters. The quarters are maybe seven minutes each but can last an incredibly long time because the game stops constantly because of tackling and timeouts. A game lasts four hours, sometimes more. Everyone loves the third down. At the stadium, the chicken fingers are great. At home, it’s all about the dips.