American football |
The U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen (left) face off against the Colorado State Rams. |
Nickname(s) | Football, Tackle football, Gridiron |
First played | November 6, 1869, Rutgers vs. Princeton |
Contact | Full contact |
Team members | 11 at a time |
Categorization | Outdoor |
Equipment | Football |
Olympic | No |American football, known in the United States simply as football and sometimes as gridiron outside the United States and Canada, is a sport played between two teams of eleven. The objective of the game is to score points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. The ball can be advanced by running with it or throwing it to a teammate. Points can be scored by carrying the ball overthe opponent's goal line, catching a pass thrown over that goal line, kicking the ball through the opponent's goal posts or tackling an opposing ball carrier in his own end zone.
In the United States, the major forms are high school football, college football and professional football, which are played under slightly different rules. High school football is governed by the National Federationof State High School Associations, while college football by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The major league for professional football is the National Football League (NFL). Other minor professional leagues also exist in the U.S., and may also have slightly different rules from those of the NFL.
The sport is also played inEurope, Japan, Mexico, and other several countries. The International Federation of American Football acts as an international governing body for the sport, but the organization has little standing in the United States.
American football is closely related to Canadian football but with some differences in rules and the field. Both sports can be traced to early versions of associationfootball and rugby football.
This diagram shows typical offensive and defensive formations. The offense (blue) consists of the quarterback (QB), fullback (FB), tailback (TB), wide receivers (WR), tight end (TE), and offensive linemen (C, OG, OT). The defense (red) consists of the defensive line (DL, DE), linebackers (LBs), cornerbacks (CB), strong safety (SS) and free safety (FS). Becauseteams can change any or all of the players between plays, the number of players at certain positions may differ on a given play. Here the offense is in the Normal I-Formation while the defense is in a 4-3 Normal.
Main article: American football positions
See also: Formation (American football)
Most football players have highly specialized roles. At the college and NFL levels, most play onlyoffense or only defense.
* The offensive line (OL) consists of five players whose job is to protect the passer and clear the way for runners by blocking members of the defense. The lineman in the middle is the Center. Outside the Center are the Guards, and outside them are the Tackles. Except for the center, who snaps the ball to one of the backs, offensive linemen generally do nothandle the ball.
* The quarterback (QB) receives the snap from the center on most plays. He then hands or tosses it to a running back, throws it to a receiver or runs with it himself. The quarterback is the leader of the offense and calls the plays that are signaled to him from the sidelines.
* Running backs (RB) line up behind or beside the QB and specialize in running with the ball. They alsoblock, catch passes and, on rare occasions, pass the ball to others or even receive the snap. If a team has two running backs in the game, usually one will be a halfback (HB) (or tailback (TB)), who is more likely to run with the ball, and the other will usually be a fullback (FB), who is more likely to block.
* Wide receivers (WR) line up near the sidelines. They specialize in catching...