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Theory of football 100

Back in 1968, I was summarily stripped of my dignity when Ronnie Lancaster held me up against the gym lockers in my first Grade 9 gym class.

Back in 1968, I was summarily stripped of my dignity when Ronnie Lancaster held me up against the gym lockers in my first Grade 9 gym class. He all but spat the words, "if you try to pull any of the same crap your brother tried around here I'll have your on a plate." What he was referring to was the one and only Darryl Hamilton, ironically an educator himself now for some 30 odd years, odd being the key word here.

I gained his respect over my four years at Central Collegiate partially because I was a superlative athlete and a keen student in both his physical education and health classes. The gym classes were pretty straight forward, but in hindsight I see he must have bent the curriculum in the health section somewhat when he introduced us to what was essentially football theory complete with full playbooks and formations.

The Hamilton in me immediately considered selling these obvious Rider secrets to the highest bidder, but I was too big of a fan and I also clung to the vivid memory of his fingers around my esophagus on my first day. What follows is a brief intro to that class and although it is a condensed version you will get a clearer picture of what happens on the field of play and why.

There will be ample time to explore things like offensive formations and defensive alignments to combat the aforementioned, but let's cut to the real descriptions of the positional players, their mind set, body type and in the occasional case, their IQ and criminal record.

For you small town football freaks who play six, seven, eight or 10-man football the same generalities apply.

Defensive linemen - think in terms of two varieties - a run stopper as wide as he is tall and with a rump that supplies the ballast to plug the gaps of the running game and the lithe athletic rush ends whose focus is on one thing: decapitating the quarterback. They all use a technique called stunts to disguise their intent and to confuse the blockheaded offensive linemen we will address at a later date.

Linebackers - once again depending on the alignment (3-4 or 4-3) this is largely determined by what play they are expecting and refers to how many linemen versus how many linebackers they will employ. Two styles again. Dick Butkus of the Chicago Bears remains my point of reference for an inside linebacker whose role was geared to the destruction of the running backs and the occasionalcriminal assault on unsuspecting receivers coming over the middle of the field. Outside linebackers like jail bound Lawrence Taylor had dreams of hitting QBs hard enough to be able to eat them after a sack. All out rushes evolved into a science of moves and spins, but the general ideais to kill and maim.

Cornerbacks - left alone to square off in man coverage against the fleetest of the wide receivers, these ultra quick athletes rely on an ability to back peddle long enough before they determine the potential route of their opponent. They are most often the most neurotic players on the field. Trash talking one second and then hiding from the camera the next is the way of the game of a cornerback. Techniques vary from bump and run to hold on and pray.

Defensive Backs - relegated to shadow the rough and tumble slot backs and tight ends that often simply slant across the middle or find a soft spot in a zone coverage situation. These larger-slower versions of cornerbacks need to be able to support the running attack when their instincts kick in and they determine that either the QB is going to take off with the ball in a play action pass or has an option to hand off the ball. Durant does this with Cates all day long as do most QB and running back combos. Cracking heads with the likes of Ray Elgaard usually resulted in shorter careers than other position players and a precipitous drop-off in spelling competitions.

Safeties - bigger and bolder headhunters who may or may not be cannibals, these vicious hitters are forced to read the QB's eyes and decide if they need to support a beaten cornerback or fulfill their quota of sending receivers home in body bags. Their day is measured by how many people get carried off on stretchers.Like natural gas, their testosterone should be artificially scented to ward off the doomed receivers who dare a crossing pattern or assume they have found a seam in the defence. Basically they are gangsters in football jerseys.

Another time we can delve into their penchant for domestic violence and nightclub gun toting indiscretions, but there is substantial documentation, as to which players do more jail time and who spends more time at the Buffet Village re-filling their tank for next week's gridiron war.

In August I'll look at the other side of the ball and provide tangible evidence that most inside slotbacks are one hit away from a punctured spleen and proof that most centres do not mind having two hands under their backsides all day long.

Just for the record, I was a running back.