Ten Football Broadcaster's Sayings And What They Really Mean

By Scott Bolohan

It's not secret sports commentators sometimes speak in a different language. But what are they really saying?

With the excitement of preseason NFL games, well, happening and college football literally kicking off this week, it brings an oft-misunderstood segment of the population into the spotlight: NFL and college football broadcasters.

Through the years of football on TV, broadcasters have learned how to say all the usually offensive (and often vaguely racist) things they are really thinking by using code words and clichés to describe players.

Here are ten football broadcaster sayings and what they really mean…

“Character/Off-Field Issues”

This is a bad guy who usually happens to be of African-American descent (with all due respect to Matt Jones). They do drugs, drink and drive, sometimes kill animals/people.

Fortunately, they’re also super good at football or else they wouldn’t even be given a shot in the league. Look at Plaxico Burress and Michael Vick. They’ve spent more time in jail than out of it recently. And despite their character issues, NFL teams can’t wait to give them millions of dollars to represent their franchise. These players have no heart and are definitely not well-spoken. But they would terrify announcers if they saw them walking down the street.

“Feel-Good Story”

Also known as a guy who “overcame the odds,” had super terrible stuff happen to him, usually in his youth. But thanks to his freak athletic ability, he was able to overcome all sorts of misery. A typical player grew up in a poor area of a major city, without one or more parent, did/sold drugs, and had Sandra Bullock star in a movie about their lives.

“Deceptively Quick”

In order to be deceptively quick, you have to be visibly huge. Whether they have the body of a sumo wrestler or just a massively large man, these players have one thing in common: they don’t look like they can move very well. But because of their disgustingly huge size, the fact that they are able to function somewhere near where a normal sized person might be able to makes them seem incredibly fast.

“Finesse Player”

The opposite of a throwback. This is a nice way of saying he’s kind of a pussy. These guys are elegant. These guys aren’t real football players. They’ll step out of bounds instead of taking a hit. They aren’t tough or physical or FOOTBALL PLAYERS. They’re usually wide receivers or running backs who “dance around” instead of trying to gain the extra yard at risk of paralyzing himself for the rest of his life. They are looked down upon by announcers across the land.

“Has Heart”

If you are an under 6-foot tall white guy, preferably a receiver, who isn’t really very good at football you definitely have heart. Think of all the hardships you had to face to make it in the league. Namely the being short and white part.

And since no short white guy has ever succeeded at anything (Napoleon failed, guys) you have to have an inordinate amount of heart to even make it to the NFL. Granted, you probably suck a little-to-a-lot because if you had talent they would just say this instead of “heart.”


If you are called a gunslinger, it’s sort of a nice way to say you are a quarterback who is really bad at making good decisions. Two great examples are Brett Favre and Jay Cutler, who both love to throw the ball. Anywhere.

Gunslingers aren’t deterred by triple coverage or logic. They’re going to throw the ball where they please, turnovers be damned. Sometimes these incredibly stupid throws work and the gunslinger is praised for making a throw only they could. Gunslinger is somehow used to turn a bad quality into a cool, Old West-sounding ability to cover up that these guys do a lot of dumb stuff. Thankfully, these are white-stay-in-the-pocket quarterbacks or else they’d just be considered “bad.”


In order to be a leader on the football field, you generally have to be one thing: a white QB. For whatever reason, traditional, white, stay-in-the-pocket passers have the leadership gene while those black reckless run around types are laggards (yeah…I Googled “opposite of leader”). Somehow, every element of a running game from a quarterback is upsetting to teams in need of guidance in tough moments. This could also have to do with only one black quarterback ever leading his team to a Super Bowl ring, the legendary Doug Williams (Googled this too). So maybe this isn’t more coded racism as much as it is racist fact.


You know that stuff that you really don’t know what it is but you know a player has? Yeah, that’s intangibles. Luckily, only really good players have intangibles. It’s only possible to have positive intangibles. For example, Adrian Peterson doesn’t have special fumbling intangibles. He would have ‘great vision’ or something that doesn’t really make sense (although he really does have great fumbling ability). You know who has tons of intangibles? Leaders. Leading in itself is an intangible, something that isn’t quantifiable but every announcer will say Tom Brady definitely has it.

“Throwback Player”

Football is a game of fundamentals, this much is drilled into you during the first, um, drills at practice. Coaches love a throwback player because they play the game the right way – that is nothing flashy or exciting. Just textbook tackles, hard-earned three-yard rushes, or a five-yard catch over the middle. Basically throwbacks don’t do exciting stuff. They may also be known as old school. They may also have forgotten that things clothes-lining wide receivers and sacking a quarterback using the face mask on his helmet were outlawed decades ago.


The NFL is full of poor-spoken people. But every once in a while, you’ll come across a well-spoken guy, generally a black guy who isn’t scary since everyone knows white football players speak well. If you have lots of any of the following, there’s very little chance of you being able to speak well according to announcers: dreadlocks, tattoos, gunshot wounds, arrests, muscles, jewelry. Announcers will always bring up how good of a guy they are. And usually this is because they aren’t afraid to approach them for a quote since they might speak with words they understand. Often these players go on to be broadcasters. And the cycle continues.


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