Beginner’s Guide to Football Basics & NFL Rules

For anyone new to the game of football, understanding all the rules can seem like a burden. If the NFL has taught us anything in the last few seasons it’s that the rules of the game can be difficult for even the referees to fully comprehend, let alone an eager new fan. Whether you’re a little confused and scared to interrupt the game to ask your questions, in need of a quick refresher before the season gets underway or have a young fan in the house who’s ready to learn, this beginner’s guide to the basic NFL rules is a great place to start.

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Offense, Defense & Special Teams

Offense
The offense and defense are each allowed 11 players on the field. The offense consists of the quarterback, five offensive linemen, and a five man combination of offensive players like running backs, wide receivers, tight ends or fullbacks. The five linemen consist of a center who snaps the ball to the quarterback, 2 guards who line up on both sides of the center to protect the quarterback, and 2 tackles, one on each end, who are also in charge of protecting the quarterback. In addition, the linemen are in charge of blocking the defense to create paths for the running back or fullback, and holding the defense at bay to allow the quarterback the time he needs to throw the ball. The wide receivers, tight ends and even the backs are eligible to catch the ball from the quarterback, while the tight ends are also used for additional blocking during certain plays.

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Defense
The responsibility of the defense may seem straight forward, but the complexity of the offense makes it just as difficult, if not more so. The players on the defensive side of the ball depend on the defensive package, which is essentially split into man-to-man defenses or zone defenses. But let’s review the players first. The players on defense consist of the defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs. The defensive line sets up opposite the offensive line, and consists of the defensive tackles who challenge the offensive guards or center, and the defensive ends, who among other things are the ones tasked with putting pressure on the quarterback. The linebackers line up behind the defensive line. As the second line of defense, they have to read the offense to stop the run, rush the quarterback or pick up free receivers, tight ends or running backs. The defensive backs cover receivers and tight ends, protect against the pass and try to intercept the ball.

Special Teams
Special teams refer to the players who take the field for plays that involve kicking the football. This includes field goals, punts and kickoffs. This team consists of  a placekicker who specializes in field goals and kickoff plays, and a punter. A holder holds the ball during field goals. A long snapper specializes in getting the ball from the offensive line to the holder, which requires a different skill than the center who snaps the ball to the quarterback. The rest of the team is responsible for holding the defense at bay during field goals and punts, racing down the field after kickoffs to tackle the kickoff returner, or blocking players for the kickoff returner.

The Field, The Clock & The Scoreboard

The Playing Field
The actual playing field for football is 100 yards from endzone to endzone. The endzone is 10 yards long and contains the field goal, which is situated directly outside the back of the endzone. Horizontal lines are painted across the field every 5 yards, with individual hash marks each yard to help players navigate. The field goal is 10 feet high and a little more than 18 feet wide, significantly narrower than the college goals.

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The Clock
How long is the game? When is it over? Though understandable to those who aren’t football fans, it’s more forgiving to learn the basics of the clock to avoid upsetting irritable die-hard fans. An NFL game is split into four 15-minute quarters, so 60 minutes total. The average NFL game in 2015 was a little over 3 hours long. How does 60 minutes stretch into nearly 200 minutes? Halftime is around 12 minutes, there’s a two-minute warning at the end of the first and second half, and several commercial breaks during timeouts (each team is allowed 3 timeouts per half). But that doesn’t account for even half of the 3-plus hours. The reason why a game lasts so long is because the clock stops so often. When the clock stops depends on what type of play is run, the outcome of the play and even the time of the game. However, all you need to know to start is that the clock stops when there’s an incomplete pass, when a player with the ball goes out of bounds, and after penalties or timeouts. Overtime is a single 15-minute period where the first team to score wins the game.

The Scoring System
There are several ways to score in a football game, but the majority of points come from touchdowns or field goals. Touchdowns occur when a player with possession of the ball puts the ball over the barrier (goal line) catches the ball in the endzone, or establishes possession of the ball in the endzone, such as on a fumble. A touchdown can also occur after the defense intercepts the ball and returns it, or on kickoff or punt returns. Touchdowns are worth 6 points. After a touchdown, the offense has the choice of kicking an extra point for an additional 1 point, or “going for two” by trying to get the ball in the endzone on a single possession that’s worth 2 points. A field goal, when the ball is kicked between the upright posts, is always worth 3 points.

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Football is easy enough to understand once you’ve watched a few games. It can also get a bit complicated. Knowing a little information on the players, their responsibilities and the basics of the scoring system should be enough for anyone to enjoy the game. Reading the rules is a good place to start for beginners. However, nothing beats watching the action yourself. Enjoy the NFL season with all the NFL products from LTD!

Holiday Spirit: LTD’s Product Picks for Him

mega-elite-tankardsIt’s time for your holiday shopping to pick up steam! If you’re lost on how to start shopping for the men in your life, perhaps all you need is a little inspiration. We’ve curated a short list of items designed with men in mind to give you a shopping boost. Here are this week’s Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for Him.

If He’s Thirsty Show off your team’s logo on both the front and back of this NFL 25-Oz. Mega Elite Tankard. It also features the team’s name on the side opposite the handle. A thumb rest on the handle enables you to lift the tankard with ease. The finishing touch is a spray of the team color at the bottom.

star-warsIf He’s Nerdy The Ultimate Star Wars Book is a visually stunning encyclopedic guide for avid fans of this hugely successful franchise. This must-have, beautifully illustrated book is structured chronologically and features key information about important characters and storylines that span from Episode I to Episode VI. Also highlighted are key events and insights into the making of the saga.

 

 

magnetic-swivel-lightIf He’s Handy Direct ultra-bright light where you need it with this Dual Swivel Magnetic Light. The built-in folding hook and magnetic base both swivel and rotate 180 degrees to adjust the 36-LED light panel to the perfect position. There’s also a convenient 1-Watt flashlight on the end. The body has a rubberized grip for comfort and a nonslip hold. Can stand on its own, use the magnetic base, or hang from the hook. On/off button. Requires 3 “AA” batteries. 2-1/8″W x 1-3/4″D x 8-3/8″H, not including the 2″ hook. Plastic.

 

superhero-union-suitIf He’s Super Keep your personal hero cozy with a Men’s Caped Superhero Union Suit. Even crime fighters need to relax, and this fleece union suit is comfortable for lounging and sleeping. The removable cape is attached with fabric magic. It has an embroidered logo that matches the one on the front of the suit. Long front zipper makes it easy to put on and take off. The suit also features ribbed cuffs, hems and collar, a decorative belt, and 2 inseam pockets. Polyester. Machine care. Imported.

 

nfl-leather-walletsIf He’s Sporty Officially licensed NFL Leather Wallets or Checkbook Covers make great gifts for gridiron fans. Handsome accessories feature your team’s name and logo imprinted on high-quality leather. Checkbook Cover (6-1/2″W x 3-1/2″L) has a slot for a checkbook and a clear inset for 6 cards or photos. Tri-fold Wallet (4-1/4″W x 3″L) has a full-length opening for bills and receipts and features an ID window, 4 credit card slots and a photo sleeve that holds up to 8 photos. Leather and polyurethane. Imported.

 

 

5 Ideas for Easy Tailgating

It’s football season! That means the party is headed to the parking lot. Here are 5 ideas for easy tailgating.

tailgating

Image source: slgckgc via Flickr

Fan Frills Proper tailgating etiquette suggests you get to the designated parking lot early enough to find a parking spot. If you find a spot, that means you have several hours to eat, drink and play before the big game. Since you have a lot of time to kill before the game, make sure you are comfortable. Bring plenty of collapsible chairs for you and guests – both invited and for guests passing through the lot.  For dedicated fans, a tent or canopy is a luxury for when the sun is bright or the rain and snow aren’t accommodating outdoor entertaining. Blankets, sweatshirts, ponchos, umbrellas, and stadium seats are also must-haves in case the weather is not on your side for game day.

Fan Fun If you do it right, your party will last all day and because it’s a party, you need entertainment. Tailgaters are always up for a good parking lot game. “Bags” and a ring toss game are a must for younger tailgaters while older tailgaters might prefer card games or bocce ball.

tailgating

Image source: transplanted mountaineer via Flickr

Fan Fizz For drinks, keep it simple. Bring beer, limit the liquor and wine and keep the soda selection to a minimum. You can bring a lot, but you don’t have to bring everything. Label the coolers according to beverages so your guests don’t have to dig into a bin of ice packed with the wrong drinks. As a devoted fan, get in the spirit with spirits. Consider making a team themed drink to mix in a sealable container the night before the big game to make setup and dispensing easy.

Fan Fare Be aware of how much food you are bringing and how much table space you have. When you’re thinking of what you’re going to bring, consider exactly how you plan on serving it. If you’re having burgers and brats with chips from the grill you might only need cooking utensils not forks and spoons, but if you’re having pie for dessert, don’t let your guests eat it with their hands. A mini-grill is a must have for your meats, but don’t be afraid to get creative. Break out the cookbooks and come up with appetizers or side dish ideas that are a local tradition for your team – or even the opposing team. It’ll mix things up and make your tailgate party that much more fun. And, of course, do everything you can the night before – pack a condiment caddy, put together a container for burger toppings, marinate and skewer kebabs – so when you get up in the morning, all you have to do is put the coolers together and pack the car.

tailgating

Image Source: Illinoisstatehomecoming.com via Flickr

Fan Fundamentals There are bound to be mishaps at any party and a tailgate party is no different. Be prepared for anything – plenty of napkins, toilet paper, water, ice, fire extinguisher, and a first aid kit. There are likely emergency services at the stadium, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

Tailgating is the sport to celebrate sports, but the season only comes around once a year; do it right and you’ll do your team proud.

Football Season: 4 Man Cave Essentials

mancaveEveryone needs a place to call their own, and that includes the man of the house. The man cave creates a space where he can relax and do as he pleases without fear of interference from the ladies. It is a place where he can enjoy an adult beverage, yell at the TV, play games, and hang out with the guys. It can be the basement, attic, a rehabilitated office, or a shed. A man cave does not need to be fancy, but here are a few things a fully functional “mantuary” needs. Here are 4 man cave essentials.

mancaveSeating The main point of a man cave is to create a comfortable place to relax. That requires plenty of seating. No man cave is complete without at least one recliner. Nothing makes a guy feel like the master of his domain like putting his feet up. Take the recliner one step further with a reclining sofa or sectional that provides seating for visitors. If your man cave has a bar, stools are mandatory. Beanbag chairs are classics, and you can opt for sofa-sized ones or special designs that convert to guest beds.

Refrigeration Since no one wants to constantly run back and forth to the kitchen for drinks and snacks, the man cave needs a place to keep them chilled. It can be as simple as an old refrigerator or mini fridge appropriated for the room. If beer is your beverage of choice, try a fridge with a built-in tap . There even are appliances specifically designed to hold and cool a keg, as well as dispense beer. DIY kits help you convert a fridge to a drink dispenser. Keep your drinks and food even closer at hand with a coffee table with a built-in cooler.

Entertainment The crown jewel of any man cave is its entertainment system. Often, the entire point of establishing a man cave is to have a place to host game day parties or to watch favorite movies and TV shows. A flat screen TV, as large as you can afford and the room can hold, and a DVD player are absolute musts. Include a game console for days when nothing is on. Don’t forget tables and equipment for other pastimes, like pool, foosball, darts, and poker.

mancaveDécor The thing that really sets the man cave apart from the rest of the house is its décor. It is a spot where a man can escape from the pastels, floral prints, and matching furniture that fills most homes. A sign on or near the door should make it clear visitors are entering a male sanctuary. Look for one with the logo of your favorite team, or get a personalized one with your name. Beer-themed decorations are very popular, but do not limit yourself to that. Show off your sports memorabilia, or transform the space into a tribute to your favorite pop culture icons. Do not forget posters from your favorite movie. A man cave with an attached bathroom is the ultimate in luxury. If you are so blessed, make sure to extend the décor into the bath.

 

5 Ways to Stick To An Exercise Plan

take early class gym bagWe?re starting in on the third week of the year, so how?s your exercise routine going? Did you take a CrossFit challenge or a make a Daily Yoga resolution? Did you stock up on essential workout gear, but only feel guilty when you look at it? This is about the time of the month when most people begin to falter in their resolutions, especially those surrounding workouts. The weather is still pretty chilly, especially if you?re up early before work, and the sun is still setting too early for an early evening run in the sun. We understand how challenging it can be to stick to your exercise resolutions, which is why we?ve compiled a list of 5 ways you can actually stick to your workout plan this year.

1) Start Walking More

Guess what, it?s not that hard to walk more! And yes, walking is exercise, just ask Subway?s Jared Fogle or the Iowa man who lost weight by walking 45 minutes a day, despite eating only McDonald?s. A balance between food and exercise is the best way to stay healthy, and adding in additional walking is a great part of a healthy lifestyle. Head over to Google Maps or Map My Run and see which of your local haunts are only a mile or two away. You should also do things like challenge yourself to park in the back of the parking lot, and always take the stairs. Those extra steps will really add up.

2) Change Your Commute

This extra walking leads to the next exercise plan ? the commute! Are you able to take public transportation or a bicycle to work? Public transportation is good because it forces you to walk or bike more, rather than just sitting in your car for 15 minutes every morning. Even better is a bicycle commute. Try to incorporate a bike ride to work once a week, possibly even with a friend who lives nearby. Eventually you will look forward to that bike ride, especially when you miss all the rush hour traffic!?Grab yourself a stylish but comfortable workout bag and plan to change and shower at the office that day.

3) Take Classes (With a Friend)

We all make it through about 2 weeks at the gym before we?re tired and bored, but with a social reason to go to the gym, it?s a lot easier to keep it up. Find a kickboxing, barre, or yoga class that fits into your schedule. Get to know your teacher, and she?ll begin to expect you in the class on a regular basis. Then, when you?re starting to feel too lazy to attend, enlist a friend to join you. You?ll be a lot more interested in a 7am spin class when you?ve got a friend relying on you to show up.

4) Join or Create a Challenge

So maybe you and a friend decided to sign up for workout classes, but as it turns out, neither of you is the most reliable workout partner. Instead of accepting missed workouts, make it into a challenge. Bet on who can make it to the most workouts each month or year, or season. Challenge your workout buddy to make each class a little more interesting with harder gears, higher leg lifts, and heavier weights. It?s fun to label it as a ?30-Day Workout Challenge,? or to bet on who can ride the furthest distance over the course of 30 days in spin class. Simply put something like the next cocktail party, happy hour, concert, or mani-pedi on the line. Whoever loses pays! A little extra motivation is good for everyone.

5) Make a Plan You?re Forced to Stick To

This means sign up to run a half marathon, join a kickball league, or sign up to walk a 5k with your mom. Signing up for something, especially if you join a team or sign up with a partner, is one of the easiest ways to stick to an exercise plan! Running your first half marathon? Follow a detailed training plan for beginners. Walking a 5K with your mom? Meet her every Saturday to walk around the park together. Joining a coed league in your area? Have a friend, roommate, or spouse join with you and you?ll get a workout and a social night out of the house. Every time you want to stay home, remember the $150 fee you paid, and the people you?re letting down.