First Thing's First and Ten


Me and HelloGiggles contributor Julia Hart Horowitz, my best football friend (BFF for real).

Hi, Giggles. I’m Claire Coffee. I really like football and I’m pretty sure it’s the best show on television. This is a personally controversial statement since I make my living acting on television but hopefully it will allow you to trust me about my convictions. If you’ve ever been curious about what makes people go nuts for the game, I’m here to help. I’ll tell you what you need to know to get into the game for real (and not just to impress your dates/boyfriend/husband/Twittcrush). If nothing else, when someone tries to talk about the debt ceiling, you’ll have a way to change the subject. Tweet me your questions and I’ll get to them all eventually. First up: Free Agency, the best part of pre-season.

Have you experienced sorority rush? Have you, perhaps, experienced it vicariously through re-runs of 90210 (the CU years) or seen the best TV movie of all time Dying to Belong starring Hilary Swank, Sarah Chalke and the Sophie B. Hawkins classic, ‘Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover’? If not, for the love of all things incredible, go stream some Netflix right now. If so, you already know a LOT about the free agency period in NFL football. Every player in the NFL has a contract to play for a team for a certain number of years, which is worth a certain number of dollars guaranteed per year. When the terms of the contract are up, the player is either cut by the team, signed to a new deal by the team, or allowed to ‘test the market’ to see if they can get a better deal elsewhere. The comparisons to sorority rush are many-fold, as I’ll attempt to illustrate.

And just so we’re clear: my information is based on my own experience in a sorority at a Big Ten school, with the truth heightened for comedy. I know it doesn’t reflect everyone’s college sorority experience.

A girl visits ‘houses’, meets ‘members’ and is run through vigorous social exercises which include timed get-to-know-you sessions that are later graded:

“Hi Lindsay, I’m Katie. OMG, I LOVE your belt. You’re welcome. Do you have Moskos for Soc? I know, he’s the BEST. Do you want an M&M? Of course you don’t. I promise, if you become a Kappa I can GUARANTEE you will have your pick of any guy on campus. Speaking of, I hear you’ve been hooking up with Alex. He’s awesome, so hot, but if you meet Cassie tonight, don’t mention it. They have history. I mean, she will LOVE you and she’s totally over it, but you never know, you know? Oops, just got the tap! Lindsay, this is my bestie, Carly. Carly, I was just talking to Lindsay about her love of waist belts. Go show her how cute your room is decorated and ask her about her extra-curriculars”.

NFL Free Agency:
A player visits ‘teams’, meets ‘staff and coaches’ and is run through vigorous exercises which are timed and graded:

“Hey, Nnamdi! I’m Rex, this is Mike and here’s a giant box of money. We love your ferocious style of play and think you’d make a great addition to the Jets family. I can GUARANTEE that if you join this team, you will make it to Super Bowl XLVI. What other team can give you a guarantee like that? I’ll tell you. None of them. Do you want an M&M? Of course you don’t. Let’s just get you a physical and get this deal done already. One thing: I hear you’ve been talking to Andy. Listen, I don’t like to gossip, but Andy’s into some weird s**t. It’s like a cult over there in Philadelphia. I mean, I love the guy, don’t get me wrong, but that’s some weeeeeird s**t going on over there. Oops! There’s Mark Sanchez! Mark, this is Nnamdi. He’s the best corner in the league and you two are both from California. Chat with him about In ‘n Out on the way to his physical.”

A girl evaluates her options based on the reputation of the ‘house’ and the ‘members’ she has met, trying to find the perfect ‘fit’.

Girl: I could go anywhere but I really want it to FEEL right. I know Kelly’s going Kappa but she’s my nemesis.  All those girls are all so pretty, though. My mom’s a Pi Phi so I’d be a legacy there and they really like me, but that’s the smart pretty house and I think I want the gorgeous pretty house. Wait, whaaaat? Andy is pledging Sigma Chi? I am crushing on Andy so hard and Sigma Chis only hang out with Tri-Delts! Long live Delta, Delta, Delta!
Other Girl: How is my only option Delta Nu? That’s not even a real sorority! I knew I shouldn’t have worn dressy shorts on pref night. Sororities are LAME. Why would anyone want to join a sorority anyway? IM VOLLEYBALL!

A player evaluates his options based on the reputation of the ‘team’ and the ‘staff’ he has met, trying to find the perfect ‘fit’.

Kevin Kolb: I don’t really care where I land, I just really want to be wanted and appreciated for what I can bring to the team. Arizona? No way, they’re horrible! What? 5 years, 63 million dollars with a 20 million dollar guarantee? Heeyyyy, Kenny Whiz! Long live the red birds! I love golf.
Randy Moss: New England said no? That’s cool, Tennessee’s not that bad… What? They don’t want me either? Did you check again with Minnesota? They have a new coach now… Man, screw this. Why would anyone want to play football anyway? I’m RETIRED!

Bid Day T-shirts!

New uniforms!

Bonus tip of the week: Asomugha is pronounced ‘Ahss-um-waa’.
(You may need to know this because he was the golden boy of free agency. Everyone wanted him, Philly got him. His former team is the Oakland Raiders.)

Next week: Breaking down the positions.

  • Matthew Sourwine

    Wow. I never thought of free agency like that. It actually makes a lot of sense. Great post, Claire.

  • Stephanie Frady

    I’ve been a fan of Claire ever since her days as Nadine on GH :) Glad to see her posting here! And I’m also a fan of football. Looking forward to more articles like this!

  • Karoline Onsrud

    Super Bowl XLV was the first football game I ever saw and I loved it! I’m from Norway so I don’t really know the rules and how NFL works, so this series will do me good.

  • Alexandra Rae

    I’m looking forward to this. My dad is crazy about football and it’d be nice to sit in front of the tv and join him :)

  • Julia Hart Horowitz

    Love this and I obviously love the picture. GO JETS!

  • Dana Boone

    What a fantastic pov on free agency! If only all of the guys in my life who have tried to explain this had put it into sorority perspective.

  • Chris Zak

    “Listen, I don’t like to gossip, but Andy’s into some weird s**t. It’s like a cult over there in Philadelphia.”

    as one of those cult fans in Philly, I swear this is true

  • Ann Marie Landry

    Fantastic post! I love the comparison. I’m a big football fan and was in a sorority, too, but I never thought of how similar they are :) (Go Pats!)

  • Josh Kiser

    I loved you in Franklin and bash…and after following you on twitter and reading your entertaining article now I just love you.

  • Claire Coffee

    P.S. That’s Hello Giggles contributor and Jets super fan Julia Hart Horowitz in the picture!

  • Alisa Scharf

    Loved this! Looking forward to more of these First Things First and 10’s. Rex Ryan is into way weirder shit though, just sayin.

  • Kristalyn Goudreau

    This was amazing!! I’m doing my first fantasy football league with my bf and our friends and this was great! Can’t wait for your next article. GO JETS!

  • Kimberly Hawkins

    I love football! I understand the very basic concepts such as first downs. This is awesome! I tell you what I don’t understand: off sides.

  • Carissa Davidson

    Love it!!
    I love football but always enjoy learning more about it so thanks! Can’t wait for the next post :)

  • Shannon Patrick

    Claire, as a sorority girl and a Jets fanatic I LOVED this breakdown!! Looking forward to your next post! :)

  • Amy Lester

    Now, I love the NFL as much as the next girl, but the real challenge is explaining college football. Is there a “non-sport” comparison for the FBS and BCS? Probably not. Good luck with that!

  • Sarah Rose

    Love this article! you’re friend looks familiar, is that Kathryn Burns?

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