Raking up too many football code words

Guest column

The arrival of crisp autumnal weather means two things — college football is (or should be) in full swing and the annual aggravation I refer to as “leaf management” will most likely dominate the majority of the time I spend outdoors.

Lush, green and beige foliage that provided both shade and beauty a mere few weeks ago now threatens to turn my front yard into a desolate, uninhabitable dust bowl from The Grapes of Wrath.

Our unusually dry summer transformed my lawn into a mosaic of green, conjuring up images of the fatigues the late General Schwarzkopf would wear during his Operation Desert Storm updates.

Lawn preservation has become my new obsession.

To make matters worse, my leaves are not the convenient, all-fall-off-at-the-same-time types commonly found on the neighbor’s property.

No, I wage war with sinister, devil leaves and their pompous, “we’ll come down there whenever we damn well feel like it” attitudes descending en masse roughly 30 minutes after my rakes and leaf sucking equipment are stored in the garage.

While defending my home turf (literally) this past Saturday from these unwanted invaders from above, I decided to tune in the broadcast of a local college game using my snazzy new Bluetooth headphones.

Football audiophiles typically gather in-game intel from a holy trinity of microphone-wielding resources — namely the opportunistic sideline reporter, the stoic play-by-play man and his trusty sidekick, the color commentator.

I’ve sometimes pondered the question that, in the days before color TV, did we refer to the latter as the “grayscale” commentator?

What I heard was appalling. I found myself focusing more on trying to decipher unrecognizable, new millennial radio jargon than the task at hand — the complete annihilation of my devil leaves.

The color guy felt compelled to regularly deploy a plethora of abbreviations that, at first listen, seemed to warrant the use of a language translator.

Here are a few examples.

“The cornerback knocked the ball out of the receiver’s hands so credit him with a PBU.”

A what? Turns out that “PBU” is millennial sports speak for “pass broken up.”

This one also got my attention:

“The punt return unit absolutely needs to know the DND before the ball is snapped.”

I always thought “DND” meant “Do Not Disturb” so it took me some time to figure out it meant “down and distance.” Purists would argue this acronym should be DAD not DND.

Yet another: “The safety smothered the receiver well before the ball arrived. That’s a blatant PI.”

The only PIs that I know are Tom Selleck’s “Magnum” and Peter Falk’s “Columbo” characters.

The announcers also referenced RPO approximately every five minutes, but they couldn’t fool me. I instantly recognized that one as “run/pass option” after Lamar Jackson walked off with NFL MVP honors last season.

That begs another question: What other options do quarterbacks really have when they possess the ball? Punt? Fumble? Dropkick?

Finally, lest you think I’m too old school, I close by challenging you to figure this one out:

“The line didn’t pick up the ZB, failed to protect the BS and now their QB’s in CP.”

ZB (zone blitz), BS (blind side) and CP (concussion protocol).

Contz was a starting offensive tackle on Penn State’s first national championship team in 1982 and played six NFL seasons. He published a book in 2017, “When the Lions Roared: Joe Paterno and One of College Football’s Greatest Teams.”


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