Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Apparently football is not a bunch of fat guys just beating each other up. Who knew? Because really, it sure seems that way. In fact, in one report I read, there is an average of 17 injuries per team, per game. That’s just insane. But hey, boys will be boys!

I didn’t think it would be hard for me to crank out a piece about the football positions/players. The baseball positions piece took hardly any time at all! And I know a lot of the players already like:

  • Quarterback: duh, who hasn’t at least heard of a QB!
  • receivers: because they receive the ball
  • lineman: the big men
  • tight ends: because they sound HOT!
  • and the little kicker dude.

Ha! There is so much more than that, it’s not even funny. I’m used to baseball and basketball where it’s all pretty easy and basic. Football, not so much.

Am I really supposed to understand all that? As if it doesn’t look imposing enough, when you try to actually look up what each position is, I swear they try to make it  complicated. I mean for Receivers, I read that their “primary function is to stretch the field, to be a deep threat, and to pull away an eighth defensive man near the line of scrimmage from moves against the quarterback.” Seriously? THEY CATCH THE BALL. That’s their primary function. Catch. The. Ball.

This piece took a long time. First I had to find out what the positions were called. Then I had to translate all the gibberish in their descriptions to figure out what they actually do! After that, I had to treat myself to pictures of the hottest football players for each position! I earned it! Don’t worry I shared them with you!

I will warn you, if you don’t know football very well and you should probably check out my Football’s Bend & Snap and Other Key Terms to Know before reading this.

Also, if you are looking to learn football 101 basics FAST or in time for you Super Bowl Party, check out The Stiletto Sports Girl’s Guide to Football: Big Game E-Book Edition! Available for immediate download to any reading device so you can learn on the go!

A Girl’s Guide to Football: The Players & Positions



Special Teams

THE OFFENSE (aka the guys trying to score)


Made up of:

  • The Offensive Linemen: in charge of creating “the line” that protects the quarterback
  • The Backs: Meaning the players that are in the back of the lineman. The quarterback and the ball carriers.
  • The Tight Ends: So not what you think they are! Not nearly as cool! Basically, they are a cross between the linemen and the receivers.
  • The Receivers: the ones who catch the passes

Seven players must line up on the line of scrimmage, and only the two tight ends are eligible to catch passes.

The Linemen:

Offensive linemen are not allowed catch the ball but may run the ball if they want. (see my silly football rules for more on that…)

  • Center: The play in the center of the line! He is the one to start each play when he “snaps” the football.
  • Offensive Guards: The guards right next to the center on each side. I like to think of them as function is to block on both running and passing plays.
  • Offensive Tackle: the offensive tackles line up next to the guards. Their role is primarily to block. The area from one tackle to the other is an area of “close line play.” Don’t ask.

Tight Ends


Vernon Davis proves that Tight Ends are still hot, even if it has nothing to do with tushies

Vernon Davis proves that Tight Ends are still hot, even if it has nothing to do with tushies

  • They are a mix between a blocker and a pass receiver being they block but they also handle the football.
  • Tight ends play on either side of the tackles.
  • If he moves away from the offensive tackle, he is called a split end.
  • Name dropping: Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis (photo below)



The Backs


I swear I did eenie, meenie, miney mo before I picked which hot QB to put here. Tom was just lucky I guess!

I swear I did eenie, meenie, miney mo before I picked which hot QB to put here. Tom was just lucky I guess!


  • The Quarterback: The Man! He’s a leader, keeps a cool head under pressure, be mentally and physically tough and exude sex appeal! All attractive attributes in any man. I get really annoyed when QBs are not attractive. It’s not cool. Oh yeah, and he calls the plays, gets the football from the snap and puts it into play with with a long pass, a handoff or he runs it himself.  Name Dropping: The Manning Brothers, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Kurt Warner, Ben Roethlisberger, Donovan McNabb, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco.
  • Fullback: Usually a blocker and the guys that clear the path for the guys running through the big pile-up with the ball. But they can carry the ball too.
  • Running back: The ones that seem to do a whole lot of work to get no where. They are the little compact guys that try to shove their way through the huge defensive linemen in front of them and get taken down almost immediately. The ones that make you go “what was the point of that? He didnt’ get anywhere”***  At least that’s what I think….
  • Name dropping: Adrian Peterson (photo below), Michael Turner, Brian Westbrook, LaDainian Tomlinson
RB Adrian Peterson. I was going to give you an action shot but saw this, drooled all over myself (seriously, mouth watering) and had to put it up!

RB Adrian Peterson. I was going to give you an action shot but saw this, drooled all over myself (seriously, mouth watering) and had to put it up!

***I actually did ask this question once, and found out the answer. It’s to confuse the defense. If  the QB passed the ball every single play, the defense would know and intercept or something. Plus the QB couldnt’ throw the ball that much. It would hurt!

The Receivers


WR Larry Fitzgerald makes catching the ball look so easy. And so sexy!

WR Larry Fitzgerald makes catching the ball look so easy. And so sexy!

” The wide receivers are speedy pass-catching specialists.”  Their main job is to get open for a pass. There are two different kinds of WR,  and I swear if you memorize these two positions and use them correctly during a game, you will 1. freak everyone out and 2. get anything you want.

  • Speed Wide Receiver: The “deep threat.” The ones that bullet down the field to receive the pass.
  • Possession Wide Receiver: Not as fast, but great at keeping the ball and moving it down the field
  • Name dropping: Larry Fitzgerald, Randy Moss, DeSean Jackson, Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Buress

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THE DEFENSE (aka the ones trying to make sure the other team doesn’t score)


  • The Linemen: Players on the line of scrimmage
  • The Secondary/Defensive Backs: All the players that play behind the line.

The Linemen:


Defensive End and DWTS hottie Jason Taylor shows linemen can be soooo fine!

Defensive End and DWTS hottie Jason Taylor shows linemen can be soooo fine!


  • Nose guard: Basically the Center of the defense. Lines up nose to nose with the offensive center. Short and strong, their job is to stop the offense from coming down the midle. If they quick, they are get through the offense and sack the QB!
  • Defensive tackle: The players lined up across from offensive guards.  Their mission: break through the offensive line, rush forward at the quarterback (aka passer) and also stop the runs coming up the middle of the pack.
  • Defensive End: The two ends play on well, the ends–or outer edges–of the defensive line. Their mission: break through the offense, rush forward at the quarterback and stop the runs coming up the sides of the field. Name Drop: DWTS JASON TAYLOR!!!!
    • The faster of the two ends is usually placed on the right side of the defensive line because that is the blind side of a right-handed quarterback, making them vulnerable to attacks!

The Secondary/Defensive Backs:


DeMarcus Ware shows that linebackers are not fat and ugly--they are chisled and damn fine!

DeMarcus Ware shows that linebackers are not fat, ugly and scary--they are chisled, damn fine and sweet!


  • Linebacker: Linebackers play behind the defensive line and perform various duties depending on the situation, including rushing the passer, covering receivers, and defending against the run. Most defensive sets have between two and three linebackers.Linebackers are usually divided into three types:
    • Strongside: Lines up across from the offensive tight end. Stongest so he can push through the blockers quickly to grab the offensive guy carrying the ball.
    • Middle: the “quarterback of the defense” because he reads the offensive formation and tries to adjust the whole defense in response to what he sees.
    • Weakside: The most athletic and quickest—not necessarily the strongest—because he needs to be able to run and cover the field.
    • Name Dropping: Brian Urlacher-middle, DeMarcus Ware
  • Cornerback:  The two players that cover the wide receivers. Their goal is to make sure the receivers don’t catch the  ball! They try to bat it down or pluck it out of the air for themselves.
  • Safety: The safeties are the last line of defense (farthest from the line of scrimmage) and help cover the open field from long passing. Name Drop: Troy Polamalu
  • There are also things called Nickelbacks and Dimebacks but yeah…if it’s not the band, don’t think I really care.

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You don’t f&@% with the special teams.  They have all sorts of special privleges and stuff like “Roughing the Kicker Penalties.” Personally, I don’t see the fuss. But apparently they are very rare, elite and oh, so special. They are so rare they only come out to play for certain things!

These are the guys that come on for kickoffs, free kicks, punts, field goals and extra point attempts. (If you don’t know what those are, well, you didn’t read my Football Terms to Know that I said you must read before continuing!)

The Special Teams are:

  • Kickoff team: The group that comes out for the kickoff
  • a kick return team: the team that catches the kickoff and is trying to run it back down the field
  • a punting team: The team that comes to punt the ball (strangely….they can be different then the kicking teams…go figure)
  • a punt blocking/return team: the team that first tries to block the punt, and then when unsuccessful, catches the punts and tries to run it back.
  • a field goal team: The team that comes out to kick the field goal with the kicker.
  • a field goal blocking team: the defensive team that comes out to stop or block the field goal team.

The V.I.Players:


  • The Holder & the Kicker: Think Charlie Brown and Lucy. Lucy holds the ball for Charlie Brown to kick. Well except in the NFL, the Lucy’s don’t pull the ball away from the kicker. That would be hysterical bad.
    • Okay so the holder is the guy that gets the football after it is snapped (See Football’s Bend & Snap) and makes sure the ball is adjusted for the Kicker to, well, kick.
    • The football needs upright with the laces out before it is kicked.
    • Then the sucker the holder actually holds the ball on the placeholder while it is kicked.
    • For more about the Kicker: Why we love the kicker

Kicker Adam Vinatieri. YUM!

  • Kick returner: He’s the guy that hangs out way down the field to catch the football after a kickoff and then runs it back. I think.
  • Punter: The guy that kicks the punts. And the kicker is (ha, had to say it) in the NFL this guy is different from the Kicker. Why? I have no idea. You would think that if the guy has the eye-foot coordination to kick a field goal and not kick the holder’s finger,  he could punt a ball. Maybe he lacks hand-foot coordination?
  • Punt returner: He’s the guy that hangs out way down the field to catch the football after a punt and then runs it back. Like a dog. This guy also moonlights as the kick returner, unlike his offensive counterparts the kicker and the punter.
  • Wedge Buster: I don’t even care what this guy does, it’s such a great name and title! Can you imagine meeting him at a bar? “Hi, I’m Jake and I’m a Wedge Buster.” Ha
    • In all honestly, this guy has like, the worst job ever. So you know the punt/kick returner guy? Okay let’s say he caught the ball. Now he’s trying to make it back down the field and he is surrounded by his whole Offensive Team, aka “the wedge” to help him. Enter the Wedge Busters! These are the Defensive Guys that run like hell down the field after the punt/kick-off trying to stop the returner. Why does it suck? They are running full force at the Offensive Team to break it up. So when they contact…. Philadelphia Eagles special teams coach once said “It’s like throwing yourself in front of a bus.”
    • How that is any more painful then any other tackle, I do not know.
  • Hands Team:  From Wikipedia: “Used only during onside kicks, the members of a hands team are responsible for preventing the kicking team from recovering a kick, usually by recovering the ball themselves.” I didn’t understand a word of that. Lost me at Onside Kicks, totally tuned out after that.

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More in A Girl’s Guide to Football:

About the author: Jennifer Taglione is the owner of this fabulous website Stiletto Sports. Despite writing well over 500 posts, she still maintains that she is not a sports writer! She is however a huge fan of Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Mark Sanchez, the Celtics, and totally kicks butt on March Madness brackets! Connect with her by following her on Twitter @StilettoSportsJ and subscribing to her weekly newsletter. For more info check out the About the Editor page!

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16 Responses

  1. Joe Blow Said,

    Good basic synopsis. One correction though, any back behind the quarter back is a running back. Typically the first guy behind the quarter back is the half back then the full back. You have them reversed in your graphic.

    Posted on September 27th, 2009 at 1:30 pm

  2. Stiletto Jen Said,

    ooooh thanks for the tip! I’ll have to update that for the E-Book!

    Posted on October 2nd, 2009 at 10:20 pm

  3. ravi Said,

    jow blow is wrong, you got it right the first time… nice site

    Posted on October 24th, 2009 at 2:35 pm

  4. Stiletto Jen Said,

    Thank you! I didn’t make the graphic, just reference it so I was shocked to see it was wrong!

    Posted on November 8th, 2009 at 11:04 pm

  5. Claudine Said,

    Ok, this is the funniest football explanation on the web. You cracked me up. 🙂

    Posted on September 18th, 2010 at 11:52 pm

  6. Stiletto Jen Said,

    Thanks! That’s my goal because I’m always bored and exasperated when I try to learn new football things!

    Posted on September 19th, 2010 at 12:15 am

  7. thefabulous0ne Said,

    this. is. awesome.

    what a marvelous site!

    Posted on November 14th, 2010 at 10:15 am

  8. Stiletto Jen Said,

    thanks! 🙂 Glad you like it!

    Posted on November 15th, 2010 at 2:16 pm

  9. Todd Said,

    This was a great read. Had me laughing half the time. Impressive though, looks like you put some time into it. I assume you knew nothing about football except for the few positions you mentioned in the first few paragraphs? Little kicker dude, lol!

    Posted on December 2nd, 2010 at 4:56 pm

  10. Stiletto Jen Said,

    🙂 the lil kicker is my fave!
    I’m so glad you liked it! It’s definitely one of my favorite posts to date because you are right, I learned a LOT! And I learn more and more every week!
    Thanks for taking the time to comment!

    Posted on December 3rd, 2010 at 1:13 am

  11. Hilary Stevens Said,

    Hysterical and accurate

    Posted on December 21st, 2010 at 4:26 pm

  12. Chase Said,

    Very good! I love your writing.

    Posted on June 3rd, 2011 at 9:22 pm

  13. Jamie Z Said,

    Awesome post! sports illustrated hots x text book accuracy

    Posted on October 30th, 2011 at 11:09 pm

  14. Lourdes Said,

    Love your site! YOu kept it fun and interesting at the same time. Sad though you didn’t include Clay Matthews:(

    Posted on January 29th, 2012 at 4:49 am

  15. Stiletto Jen Said,

    Thank you! …..clay matthews scares the beejeezes outta me 🙂

    Posted on February 1st, 2012 at 3:13 pm

  16. Carolyn Said,

    Thank you. I am using your descriptions for our English language/American culture class. So much better than my husband’s too long and not half so entertaining descriptions!

    Posted on January 28th, 2013 at 9:03 pm

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