Players on the offensive side of the ball get a lot of individual attention, but the action that happens on defense in order to disrupt scoring attempts can be even more electrifying. An NFL defense is comprised of linemen and a secondary (linemen are the tackles, ends and linebackers, the secondary is comprised of the players further down the field – corners and safeties) who all have specific ways of creating nightmares for a quarterback. In keeping with the ‘football as life’ theme, I’ll give you a quick explanation of how these players operate on the field and then a longer and (hopefully) more colorful way of how these players compare to the irritating distractions keeping you from your goals in real life.
Defensive Ends (2):
These guys flank the defensive tackles and rush the quarterback from the sides as well as trying to stop the running back during rushing plays. To a quarterback, they are the most immediate threat on the field, responsible for getting through the offensive line in order to sack the quarterback, killing the play before it even begins.
Level of Annoyance to You: 8
This is your procrastination talking. Defensive Ends are the internet, inclusive of (if you’re me) Twitter, Slate, Yelping that restaurant I want to try, Twitter, Google Image Search, Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, Twitter, ESPN.com, My bank account, Twitter, Refinery29 Summer Hairstyle Guide, Yelping that bar I want to try, Twitter, Instagram, Googling the menu of the restaurant on Yelp I decided to try, Clearing my search history and the New York Times Crossword to start fresh on a good note. The internet’s hold on a person feels deliberate, intentional and personally determined to take a person down because IT CAN AND IT WILL! This post would have been finished in 3 hours if not for the internet. Instead, it took 6 days. The only thing that can stop the internet from sacking your day is for you to TURN OFF THE INTERNET. Shut it down. Stay alert, clock the threat coming at you from the corner of your eye and get out of there and on task before it can TAKE YOU DOWN! Or, have one of your friends (your guards) force you to shut it down. Make a pact with your cubicle-mate – You’ll watch her back if she watches you turn it all off for real and for good. You need help. You can’t do it alone. Get to the park, already. Just take it from me: WiFi Free Zone. Only way to get that project into the End Zone. #terrible
The cornerback is part of the secondary and specifically in charge of covering the offensive receivers in order to block or intercept a pass from the opposing team’s quarterback. A good cornerback can be one of the highest paid members of a team (Nnamdi Asomugha, Darelle Revis) because they can make it near impossible for a quarterback to move the ball downfield to a receiver. Cornerbacks bet do their job if they are the best receiver on the field, offense or defense. The corner has to be a little faster, a little more agile and a little psychic in order to read a play, get in front of the wide receiver and intercept or down the ball.
Level of Annoyance to You: 7
I think the term ‘guys’ girl’ is a vague misnomer at best and a euphemism in truth. When I’ve called someone a ‘guys’ girl’ in the past, what I’ve really wanted to call that girl is any number of the following:
- That girl who’s more confident than I am and way better at making that cool boy laugh than I am.
- That girl with longer legs and a leaner torso who wears that $2 white t-shirt like it’s been on her body since birth but still smells like vanilla and mystery.
- That girl who played volleyball really well in middle school.
- That girl who played tennis really well in high school.
- That girl who already knew how to bong a beer before college.
- That girl who plays in a soccer league on the weekends, which you’d only know if you asked her to do something on a Saturday morning because she’s humble and mellow and doesn’t join something like a soccer league because it will sound cool, she does it because she just really loves playing soccer and is actually that cool.
- That girl who probably sleeps pretty and has never had dry skin anywhere.
- That girl who had sex with my boyfriend before me.
- That girl who starts having sex with my ex-boyfriend after me.
- That girl with the freckles and a really good natural hair part.
You see where I’m going with this…
So instead of calling them ‘guys’ girls’, I propose ‘cornerback’ as the new term for those girls who inadvertently chip away at our carefully cultivated self esteem, severely limiting our ability to complete a play. These girls are just doing their jobs, same as a good corner is just doing his. Trouble is, it can REALLY interrupt the game you had going on that guy you thought was only cute to you or the guy that everyone thinks is cute and told your buddy that you seem ‘really interesting’, so you’ve been waiting for Whitney’s birthday party to talk to him because you didn’t want to push it… but there she is. The cornerback. Always able to steal a little bit more focus. Not because she’s trying to be mean – it’s not personal – it’s just that she always seems to have a little higher reach and a little faster run. The thing is, girls like this can really keep you on your toes, forcing you to figure out what’s uniquely awesome about yourself and your own game. If nothing else, rest assured knowing that you’re definitely the cornerback to some other girl’s quarterback, so take it easy on the dagger eyes, already (note to self).
Defensive Tackles (2)
Tackles line up across from the guards in the middle of the defensive line. They try to put pressure on the quarterback to get rid of the ball before he’s made a read to see which of his receivers are open. These guys also act as a wall to prevent the running back from executing his route. They work opposite the offensive guards, who are trying to keep the lane open so the running back can charge through.
Level of annoyance to you: 6
Girls’ night at your house. You’re at Trader Joe’s picking up the rest of the cheese and you’re already running late because you had to wait an extra 17 minutes for the elliptical at the gym when the matchy-matchy LuluLemon-clad girl ellip-ed beyond her 30 minute limit. She was too engrossed in One Day and/or Teen Moms in CRISIS! to notice the time read-out on the screen… And she hadn’t tired out yet because she’d been spinning at a 2.0 pace, which is slower than your grandmother’s post-Thanksgiving walk-around-the-block. You didn’t want to mention anything because you’d hate to be ‘that girl’ so instead you just paced back and forth while doing big arm circles in her direct eyeline because if she’d just look up for ONE SECOND, you could send her a sweet, passive aggressive smile to nudge her off the machine but NO, she won’t even check herself out in the mirror. So you wait for the older, G-list actress wearing jewel-toned velour and Toms shoes to approach The Criminal and say, “30 minute limit, dear.” The Criminal then apologizes profusely, gets off and G-list gets on your machine because she’s rightfully earned her spoils of battle. You resolve to be more a confident righteous woman in the future and slump over to the stationary bike.
And NOW, you’re at Trader Joe’s in Chatty Chuck’s line who asks “What are you serving your cheese with and is this a party? Can I be invited ha ha wink, wink? Have you tried the new quince jam that just came in? Like a paste but a little different! Really brings out the flavor of the St. Andre. Oooohhh, you know what? I’m actually going to have to see some ID for this Sancerre. Nice photo ha ha! Is your last name really Coffee? Hahahaha! Do you like drinking coffee? That’s so cool! I love Coffee. Wouldn’t it be weird if you hated Coffee? …WOW! You do NOT look your age! I mean, it’s kind of crazy! Do you get that all the time?!” You then utter the only thing you’ve said this entire time: “I’m only 31.” Chatty Charlie: “Good for YOU! You’re right. 31 is really not that old.” You pack your bags yourself and run away as fast as you finally can. After turning on your car’s engine you realize you forgot ice and you’re now going to be in a robe when the girls start to show up. It’ll be fine but you’re going to need an extra glass and a half to be cheerful and host-like, which sucks because you have a huge meeting tomorrow at 8:30 am, so it’s going to be a particularly foggy morning, all because of The Criminal and Chatty Chuck blocking your flow.
Linebacker (3 or 4):
While watching a game, you’ll hear a lot of noise about a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive scheme. Those numbers refer to the pattern in which the defensive linemen are arranged on the field opposite the offense. A 4-3 Defense means that 4 defenders will lineup at the front line with 3 linebackers behind them. A 3-4 scheme flips that, with 3 defenders up front and 4 lineman stacked behind them. Regardless of the scheme, linebackers do just as their title suggests and back up the front offensive line to prevent the quarterback from moving the ball. On a rushing play, they’ll try to bring down the running back if he’s found a hole through the tackle and nose guard. On a passing play, they’ll fill in as needed to block the intended receivers. They’re mostly anonymous bruisers on the field, providing support to the marquee crushers like cornerbacks, safeties and ends.
Level of Annoyance to You: 5
These are the people who make it more difficult to keep your day perfect but won’t necessarily ruin it completely. Socially speaking, the linebacker is the friend you accepted into your circle by circumstance and now you just can’t shake her. She’s the Debbie Downer or the Tracy Talks Too Much About Her Alternative Therapy Vegan Cupcake Business Model. The problem probably started that time you were the only single girl when your entire circle was pre-married. You picked up a straggler so you wouldn’t have to go on another bad date just to try that new cocktail bar. Maybe it was the girl you clung to when you started that new job. She’s the office gossip, or worse – the passive aggressive, depressive, irrepressible girl whose aunt is always sick, whose food allergy changes by the weekday, who puts quotes of the day in your coffee, who over-shares, who tricks you into over-sharing and who wants to know why you look so tired today. You somehow didn’t notice all of this when you invited her to dinner and a movie 6 Saturdays in a row, so now it really is your own damn fault until you quit the job or start planning a wedding, the only legitimate excuse she’ll accept for being “just so busy”. THE POINT BEING: These people make your perfect girls’ nights a little less than totally perfect. You don’t feel comfortable gushing about that date – all of it – with someone who might hold the tipsy talk over your head at the office lunch table for the next month. Or mention a crush just to have the straggler text you, “So how’s it going with Mr. Handsome Dog Guy?!?” every other day. They keep you from being 100% unabashedly YOU, completing your play and that’s a problem.
The safeties are two players in the secondary who line up toward the middle back of the field and act as that “last line of defense” in helping the cornerbacks intercept receiving plays or tackle a running back who has managed to get through the front lineman. Defenses use a “strong safety” and a “free safety” but those labels have become a bit nebulous, as the good safeties in the league today cover both (Steelers’ Troy Polamalu is one – you’ve no doubt seen him in a Head & Shoulders commercial). Traditionally, the strong safety is bigger and more of a bruiser to help block the run and free safety is quicker and more agile to read the receivers and follow the ball further down the field.
Level of Annoyance to You: 4-8
I love my family. I am very lucky. You can’t choose your family but if given the option, I don’t think I’d pick a different bunch. The problem with family members, though, is that they know you too darn well. Sisters in particular. I’ve got two younger sisters. We fight so effectively because we know each other’s annoyance triggers from years and years of caring and sharing. In life, I’ve gotten really good at the “just don’t let it bother you” skill. I can also perform the “it’s not personal, that jerk is probably just having a really bad day” trick.
With family, though, it’s always personal. My sister Carrie knows my sensitivities better than she knows her own – because it’s my job to know her own vulnerable points better than she does. On the flip side, there will never come a day that I won’t drop anything if someone in my family needs ANYTHING, including a ride to the airport or a post-breakup goldfish. I suppose the real annoyance here is that just when you thought you’d finished the day’s work and are on your way to the most crucial happy hour date of your life after the week you had dodging check-out clerk bogeys, weepy work associates, and Twitter paralysis, your Mom calls. She’s really sorry to bother you – how was your day? – but she just talked to your sister and she’s had a really bad week and has to go to another wedding this weekend and sounds so stressed… would you please just check in on her tonight and maybe give her a ride to the airport because your sister doesn’t want to bother you by asking herself? You know how she is about that sort of thing… So you go, canceling the date that’s gotten your hopes up all week. That carefully choreographed play you planned to run on Scruffy Cute Graphic Design Guy will just have to wait. In this case, view the cancel as part of an improvised playing-hard-to-get scheme. Probably more effective in winning the game, anyway.