Are you a Taylor Swift fan who is now invested in football after the 12-time Grammy winner attended the Kansas City football game on Sunday?
The rules can get tricky — there are a lot of them — but here is a guide to the most fundamental guidelines everyone should know. Did I mention they’re in terms Swifties can understand?
What is offense?
This is when a team’s group that scores the ball is on the field. They’re trying to make positive plays. It’s made up of the quarterback, running backs, offensive linemen, wide receivers and tight ends.
Think of the quarterback as Taylor. They’re often the star of the show and a fan favorite.
Offensive linemen are supposed to protect the quarterback. They’re the ones up front and trying to stop the opposing teams from tackling the quarterback. Compare these guys to public relations manager Tree Paine, Taylor’s parents and personal security. When they can protect Taylor, she can perform at her best.
Running backs, wide receivers and tight ends help the quarterback score. They’re the equivalent of Taylor’s band, assisting song writers and backup dancers. These are all talented people in their own right, but they help create a successful product.
On Sunday, Travis Kelce — who plays at tight end for Kansas City — caught a ball from quarterback Patrick Mahomes to score and help the team win.
What is defense?
Defense is made up of defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs. They are trying to stop the quarterback and his assisting players.
Defensive linemen go directly against the offensive line and try to attack the quarterback. These guys are like Kanye West at the 2009 VMAs, Scooter Braun or several of her ex-boyfriends. Though they didn’t physically tackle her like linemen do to the quarterback, the idea of having a negative impact is the same.
Linebackers and defensive backs, which may be split into further categories, are tasked with neutralizing the other position players. In Taylor Swift’s case, this could be like another artist trying to poach a band member or a backup dancer having to miss a show due to an injury.
There can still be success when a bad thing or person affects a position player on offense, but it typically necessarily have a direct impact on the QB.
What is special teams?
This is a combination of offensive and defensive players who try to put the ball closer to the end zone for their offense and further from the end zone for the other team. The fewer yards to go, the easier it is to score and have success (see explanation on downs below).
Compare special teams to Taylor’s management and support staff. They might not get much credit, but they’re the unsung heroes that make it easier for her to be successful.
What is a down?
Football teams get four attempts, or plays, to take the ball 10 yards or more. They can run with it, or it can be passed from one player to another. Think, “This is me trying,” four times.
If a team advances the ball 10 yards, then it will “Begin again” with four more tries. A play ends when the player with the ball is tackled, steps out of bounds, the quarterback throws a pass that isn’t caught or one team scores.
Sometimes you will also hear that a team is on 2nd, 3rd or 4th and a number. For example, 2nd-and-9. This means, a team is on their second down (try) and they have nine yards left.
How is football scored?
The main way teams want to score is by getting the ball all the way to the end zone for a touchdown. They get six points.
Teams can also earn extra points in two different ways.
First, is a point after touchdown (PAT) or extra point (XP). Teams can kick the ball through the uprights and add to their score. Just remember the song “Seven” when you see the big metal “trees.” That’s what teams want. Seven points.
A team can also “go for two.” The official name is a two-point conversion. This is when a team has already scored a touchdown – but they want eight points – and they line up again close to the end zone and try to score again. This is not usually done; mostly in cases to try and tie the game or make it harder for a team to tie.
Teams can fail at the two-point conversion or PAT and still keep the six points. Think of this as Taylor’s re-records. She was already a mega-famous and beloved performer, so she would’ve been OK if the re-releases hadn’t done well. Their success, though, has given her the career equivalent of extra points.
What is a field goal?
This is done the same way as a PAT, but the distance may differ. Where the kicker attempts to score is based on how close the offense got to the end zone. The average length of a field goal is roughly 38 yards, according to Statista, but some kickers can make them from 60 yards or further.
A successful field goal gives a team three points. These are good, but it’s hard to win a football game on those alone. They’re like Taylor’s albums you might not love but recognize still an important part of her discography. They help yield success, even if a game (or, in her case, a career) typically doesn’t ride on those.
Note: a field goal is measured by where the kicker is on the field PLUS 10 yards to account for the end zone. If a kicker makes a 38-yard field goal, that means they kicked from the 28 yard line.
What is a pick six?
A pick six occurs when the quarterback throws a ball and any defending player intercepts, or grabs it, and then runs into the opposite end zone for a touchdown.
It’s called a pick, because the defender “picked” it out of the air, and six is for the number of points a touchdown is worth.
Compare a pick six to her re-records. In Taylor’s battle with Big Machine Record CEO Scott Borchetta and music producer Scooter Braun, there might’ve been the assumption that she would never own the masters of her original six albums. Instead, she is in the process of rerecording all of them — many are complete — and they’ve launched her into a higher level of stardom.
Line of scrimmage
This is the imaginary line — an “Invisible string,” if you will — that runs across the field where the ball is placed before every play.
The location changes — forward or backward — based on each play. A gain in yardage an offense makes, a loss of yardage from the defense making a tackle behind the line, or changes in yardage from penalties can all impact where the line is located, and thereby where the ball is placed for the next play.
There are more rules regarding the line of scrimmage, such as when players can move, what players can do, etc. but knowledge of that isn’t necessary to understand the basics of the game.
What is a sack?
This is just when a quarterback — who is trying to make a positive play — is tackled behind the line of scrimmage, before throwing a forward pass, or runs out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage due to defense.
Compare this to the Eras Tour TicketMaster fiasco. Taylor was also trying to make a positive play by holding a tour featuring songs from all of her albums. Before she even held a show, however, the TicketMaster system wreaked havoc. (It’s a loose comparison, but you feel me?)
Anyway, these are the key things every Swiftie knows before watching any football game. Good luck, and maybe take a couple of friendship bracelets with you to a game. You never know if you’ll encounter a kindred spirit.