American football expressions – what are they on about?


16th, August 2007


US%20soccer%20ball.jpgIn case anyone missed Channel 5’s new MLS programme, David Beckham’s Soccer USA, last night, I have to comment on some bizarre sporting expressions being bandied about by Stateside commentators.
Each week, Soccer AM’s Tim Lovejoy widens our traditional football vocabularly with some typically cheesy but inventive ‘Americanisms’. They include, “He’s going to uncork it,” when a player is about to unleash a vicious shot and, “He’s got some wheels,” when referring to a player with a bit of pace.
But, my personal favourite is the use of the term “chicken wings”, which describes a scuffle among players using excessive arms and elbows (or what we might call “hand bags”) – brilliant!
Only in America I suppose – does anyone else have any idioms from across the Atlantic that they want to share for our amusement?

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  1. Kyle says:

    Alot of them are from American Football, such as “he’s got wheels.” The only place I have heard “Chicken Wings” in sports was high school football practice. It is a term used when teaching offensive linemen how to block during running plays (you can’t hold on offense so you raise your arm like a “chicken wing” and shove it into the defense to throw them back). My favorite is “sniper” (I don’t know if you have it in England). It is yelled when somebody slips and falls for no apparent reason. A casual “It’s in the net” is used alot in MLS by commentators unless your watching it in spanish in which case it is the traditional “GOOOOOOOOL!”

  2. Bezzo says:

    We have sniper in England too (along with “get yer tits out for the lads” but that’s not anything to do with football).

  3. Col says:

    “Tying it up” instead of bringing it level or equalising has been mention a couple of times. Really annoed me but i’m not sure why.

  4. Adam says:

    I don’t watch very many MLS games (and I try to avoid American commentators as much as possible), but I’ve heard them say “laser cannon” alot for a powerful, non arcing shot. I’m not 100% sure it’s exclusively American, but I haven’t heard it from any British commentators.

  5. oller says:
    has to be the best single line in authentic American ‘soccer’ commentary.

  6. You have snipers in England? If they’re Thai, Man City is in more trouble than you think.

  7. m4re says:

    This just in, other people’s slang is weird to you when you don’t hear it daily!
    We use all kinds of synonyms, “howitzer” for a hard shot. “Wheels” is also used in any sport where someone has speed, not just American football. When two teams are level in score that is called a “tie” so tying it up is valid when the scores are level.

  8. joe says:

    There are two huge problems with “our” commentators:
    -They don’t know the game. They’re only in the booth because they’ve established some sort of pedigree calling basketball, baseball, golf, gridiron football, etc. The idea of Marv Albert calling Champions League matches is an intriguing one, though.
    -They’re trying to get noticed and reassigned to a sport or network that actually pays. It’s our quintessential American flaw. Nobody’s going to give a shit if you sit back, call the game, and occasionally interject commentary where appropriate. Instead, they feel the need to establish an identity for themselves by calling the game as if it were a WWE match.
    Despite all of this, there may be hope for us yet. We pulled quite a heist in bringing over the immortal Ray Hudson, whose immortal soliloquy meanders from shameless metaphor to verbal fellatio without an ounce of effort. He’s like a Geordie Churchill on ecstasy. Preach on, Ray. Preach on.

  9. m4re says:

    And I forgot to share new ones:
    “broke his ankle” when you turn a guy the wrong way with a trick.
    “gopher hole” or “turf monster” when someone trips on the field.
    “moon shot” when it goes into row z (ok you may know this already).

  10. Bezzo says:

    And Riiseeeeeeeeeeeeee – release the cracken!
    Hilarious! I looked this up as I thought it was some mystical sea monster but found an entry for it in an urban dictionary:
    1. Cracken
    A large smelly turd.
    (Inspired by the classic movie monster from Clash of the Titans. release the cracken!)
    Jim could feel a cracken emerging from his colon so he rushed to the bathroom to make a deposit.

  11. Brent says:

    A low shot that skims the grass is sometimes called a “worm burner”.

  12. Anonymous says:

    when possesion changes they call it a “turnover” and count the amount of turnovers in a game.

  13. c says:

    “Breaking ankles” is only when the defender falls.

  14. Nick says:

    When a player gets beat one-on-one off the dribble we say that he “got dicked,” or that the attacking player “dicked him.”

  15. Vince says:

    Yeah worm burner is used often, but I have always hated it.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Also we usually call it ripping a shot, instead of cracking a shot.

  17. tyduffy says:

    As an American, I can safely say that I have never heard any of those expressions. As if the English can get snooty about having weird expressions for things. “Bendy Bus”
    I’m sure its wonderful to pat yourself on the back and laugh at all of those silly Americans who don’t know the correct (English) expressions for things. I assure you English articles discussing American sports are much worse in terms of terminology.

  18. Since you seem to enjoy the alliterative expressions one of my favourites has always been:
    “He put the biscuit in the basket!”
    First used to describe a hockey goal but has become a common sports lexicon to describe a putt in golf or a goal in any sport. For football it’s usually heard to describe a free kick in the class of Ronaldinho on the over the top sport highlight show SportsCenter”( “Top 10” plays of the night. Ironically the TV programs name illustrates a differences across the pond:
    “In British English, sporting activities are commonly denoted by the collective noun “sport”. In American English, “sports” is more used. In all English dialects, “sports” is the term used for more than one specific sport. For example, “football and swimming are my favourite sports”, would sound natural to all English speakers, whereas “I enjoy sport” would sound less natural than “I enjoy sports” to North Americans.”
    Sadly the first weekend of Premier League highlights on SportsCenter consisted a save by Hahnem must watch the Fox Soccer Channel where you may accidentally stumble upon the wankfest known as “Dream Team”

  19. Gibby says:

    The one i heard on DB’s Soccer USA was ” good pass form the ‘South Paw’ ” meaning a left footed pass ! That’s bloody boxing !!! You have American FOOTball which mainly consists of carrying a ball !!! so how can it be FOOTball . We i.e Europeans play football, you play – Egg chasing . As well as Rounders & Netball …… big girls !
    Best score result ever .
    Forfar 5 v Fife 4 !