Football is a sport played by high school, college, and the pros. The most popular professional league is the National Football League, or, NFL, for short. That is the league that I am talking about.
How it's Played
In football, the offense is given four attempts to get ten yards. The defense is trying to stop them. If the offense fails to get ten yards in four attempts (called plays), it is a turnover on downs. This means the defense gets the ball and becomes the offense. Often times, the offense will punt on fourth down in order to avoid the other team having such good field position. Getting ten yards is actually only part of a much larger goal for the offense- a touchdown. A touchdown happens when the offense crosses the other team’s goal line. A touchdown is worth six points. After a touchdown is scored, the kicker will kick the extra point, or they could try to run another play and get into the end zone again for two points. Usually, they will just kick the extra point instead of risking it. An extra point is scored by kicking the ball through the uprights. A field goal works the same way, but they usually happen from a longer distance. The offense tries for a field goal if they get close to the end zone, but fails at one point to gain ten yards in three plays (not four, because field goals usually happen on fourth down). A very common way for the offense to get the ball down the field is to pass the ball. In a pass play, the quarterback (see positions) throws the ball to a wide receiver. The reiver will try to catch the ball. Then he will try to run to the first down marker, or, better yet, the end zone. Another way to get down the field is to hand it off to the running back and he will try to run with it to the end zone ( or wherever he wants to go). Runs are usually made to get shorter distances.
There are many positions in NFL football. This is a list of the key positions.
1. Quarterback- The quarterback is the leader of the offense. They touch the ball on nearly every offensive play. The quarterback’s job is to either hand it off to the running back, run it himself, or pass it. Quarterbacks have to be smart, somewhat tall, accurate, and aware of what’s happening around them. Some of the best have been Joe Montana, Dan Marino, and Tom Brady.
2. Running Back- The running back usually runs the ball, though they also have to be good receivers. Running backs have to be fast, smart, and good at keeping the ball in their hands. The all-time greats have been Jim brown, Walter Payton, and LaDanian Tomlinson.
3. Wide Receivers- A wide receiver’s job is to catch the ball. They need the ability to catch tough throws, have good hands, and speed. Among the most talented are Randy Moss, Jerry Rice, Wes Welker, and Calvin Johnson, Jr.
4. Offensive line- The Offensive Line’s job is to protect the quarterback from the defensive linemen. They have to be big and strong. Some of the best are Johnathan Odgen, Jeff Saturday, and Nick Mangold.
5. Defensive Line- The defensive line’s job is to either provide pressure to the quarterback, or, even better, tackle him (this is called a sack). The defensive linemen have to be big, strong, and fast. The best have been Jared Allen, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, and Deacon Jones.
6. Linebacker- The Linebacker has many jobs: to watch the quarterback, to cover the running back, or attempt to tackle the quarterback ( this is called a blitz). Linebackers need to be somewhat big ( just a little bit smaller than a defensive lineman), strong, and fast. Just a few of the all-time greats are Jack Lambert, Ray Lewis, and Ray Nitschke.
7. Secondary- The secondary is made up of the cornerbacks and the safeties. The secondary’s job is to either cover a certain receiver ( in other words, keep him from catching the ball), catch the ball yourself, called an interception, or cover a certain area of the field, called a zone, and tackle anybody who goes near you. The secondary needs to be agile, light on their feet, and fast. The best so far have been Ed Reed, Troy Polumalu, Darrelle Revis, and Ronnie Lott.
8. Kicker- The kicker is the player who kicks the field goals, the extra points, and usually the kickoffs ( a kickoff is when one team kicks the ball to the other team, to change possessions, after scoring and at the beginning of halves). Kickers need to have leg strength and kick accuracy. The best have been Sebastion Janikowski and Adam Vinetari.
9. Punter- The punter is the player who punts the ball when necessary, and sometimes kicks the ball off. Punters need to have leg strength, but not necessarily kick accuracy. The best ever are Shane Lechler and Sammy Baugh.
The Super Bowl is the game played at the end of every year that determines the NFL champion for that season. Over the years, a few teams have stood out in each decade. These teams are called dynasties. This next chapter is about every dynasty from the 1960s to the 2000s.
1960s Green Bay Packers- There were only three Super Bowls in the 1960s, but the Packers managed to win two of them. The Pack was led by Hall of Famers Bart Starr ( a quarterback), and Vince Lombardi ( the head coach). In the first Super Bowl, Bart Starr and company beat the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs 35-10. The very next season, they returned to the Super Bowl, this time winning it 33-14 over the Oakland Raiders. Though they failed to make the big game in ‘69, the 1960s Pack will forever be remembered as the team that won the first two Super Bowls.
1970s Pittsburgh Steelers- When the Steelers hired Chuck Noll, I bet they didn’t think that he would become the best drafting coach in NFL history, along with winning four Super Bowls in the 1970s. In his very first season, Noll drafted “Mean” Joe Greene, a player who would anchor the Steel Curtain defense until 1981. The very next year, he drafted Terry Bradshaw. Bradshaw got off to a slow start, but when the Steelers drafted Lynn Swann on offense and Jack Lambert on defense, he began to show greatness. With this All-Star roster, the Steelers won four Super Bowls in a six-year span.
1980s San Francisco 49ers- It all started when Bill Walsh drafted Joe Montana in 1979. Montana’s first start came in 1980, and he immediatley began to perform, leading his team to 13-3 record and a Super Bowl win in ‘81. In ‘84, he led them to a 15-1 record and another Super Bowl victory But that was just the beginning. In 1985, they drafted Jerry Rice. With Joe Montana throwing and Jerry Rice catching, the Scarlet and Gold won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1988 and 1989.
1990s Dallas Cowboys- The Dallas Cowboys were 1-15 in 1989, despite the fact that they had Troy Aikman at quarterback. It turns out that Aikman just needed a little push. Once Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin arrived, he got that push. In 1993, only four years after their 1-15 season, they neat the Buffalo Bills 52-17 in the Super Bowl. The very next year, they beat the Bills yet again, this time 30-13. They returned to the big game two years later, this time with Deion Sanders at cornerback, and won it against the Steelers, 27-17.
2000s New England Patriots- In 2000, Bill Belichick drafted Tom Brady. In his first starting season in 2001, he immediatley led the Patriots to a 11-5 record and and a Super Bowl victory over the Rams, who’s offense was called the “Greatest Show On Turf,” 20-17. In 2003, Brady led the Pats to a 14-2 record and a win over the Panthers in Super Bowl 38. In 2004, he led them to yet another Super Bowl win, defeating the Philidelphia Eagles 24-21. In 2007, with additions to the team such as wide receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker, the patriots became the first team to go 16-0, but lost 17-14 to the Giants in Super Bowl 42.