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The GIST's Guide to Football

We are pretty stoked on football as a sport mostly because
football = annual homecoming game = excuse to skip class and get #locoforhoco.


If you actually make it to the game, however, it’s prolllly important to know #thegist of football. We’re going to give you a quick run-down of how football is played in the US of A, because that’s where it’s most popular. Football is played on a 100 yard field with goalposts at each end. There are 11 players from each team on the field at once. Through passing or running the football, the point of the game is to score touchdowns and field goals to have the most points at the end of four quarters. Each team gets four attempts to go 10 yards, before the ball is turned over to the other team. TBH this sport is the hardest to get a grasp on - don’t fret though, we’re here to halp!!

How’s it Organized?

In North America, there are two main leagues, the National Football League (NFL) played in the US and the Canadian Football League (CFL) only played in Canada. The rules are somewhat similar in each; however, the NFL is far and away the more elite/popular league so we’re focusing on that first. If you want to get the lowdown on the CFL, just keep on scrrrooolllin’. There are 32 teams in the NFL, which are divided into two conferences (NFC and AFC) which are further split up into four divisions each. There are 16 regular season games leading to the playoffs, in hopes to win the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is known best for the insanely overpriced commercials, the usually star-studded halftime show, eating until you faint, and drinking your pain away when your team loses.

The Best of the Best

The best team from the 2017/2018 season is the Philadelphia Eagles after their Super Bowl win against the prior reigning champs, the New England Patriots. However, we may be biased (ok we are completely biased), but we still love the Patriots. Since 2001, they’ve earned 5 Super Bowl rings which is an incredible feat. The Pats are led by their exceptionally hunky quarterback, Tom Brady, who is married to the even more beautiful and talented model Gisele Bundchen. Determining who’s the best player in the NFL is tough b/c there’s so many different positions. Tom Brady is always #1 on the field (and our hearts), closely followed by defensive end, JJ Watt (Houston Texans), and wide receiver, Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers).

Female Footballa

Football is a little bit tricky as the sport is 100% contact and is v reliant on being physical. That said, there’s some seriously tough women that play in the Women’s Football Association (WFA). It’s the largest league in North America with over 60 teams. What’s most popular is called Powder Puff, which is basically playing football in the snow. Although we take offense to the name, playing is quite fun b/c when you get tackled, you’re ideally landing in the soft white powder.

Ramp Up Your Trivia Game

  • Only 6 teams have won a playoff game without scoring a touchdown (aka field goals only)
  • Brett Favre (another personal favourite) and Tom Brady are the only 40 year-olds to ever win a playoff game. Who knew 40 could be so good???

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Special Guide to the CFL 


Okay, so we assume (and yes we know what “assume” means) that you’re popping onto this page from our NFL guide. You’ve got #thegist of football, so let us break down how the CFL is different from the NFL:

  • A CFL field is 110 yards long vs. the 100 yard NFL field. It’s also a littttttllllee bit wider. More cushion for the physical pushin’.
  • The CFL has 12 players on the field at any one time vs. 11 players in the NFL. Extra person playing that “d-what? D-fence!”
  • 3 attempts (downs) to go 10 yards, vs. 4 attempts. We personally feel this makes the game more entertaining b/c it forces the quarterback to throw the ball more.

How’s it Organized?

As you could imagine, the number of teams in the CFL is quite a bit fewer than the NFL, mostly because Canada’s wee population is literally the same population as the state of New York. There are nine teams in the CFL, which are divided into two divisions: East and West. There are 18 regular season games and then six teams make it into the playoffs for the chance to win the Grey Cup. The season runs from June until the end of November, meaning that the playoffs are generally played in sub-zero/snowwy weather. “I said aaahhh burrrr, it’s cold in here!”

The Best of the Best

The first Grey Cup was won in 1909 by the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, because back then, many teams that competed for the Cup were not professional. In the modern era, the Toronto Argonauts have won the Cup the most…a total of 17 times!! AND the Argos are the current champs winning the 2017 Grey Cup vs. the Calgary Stampeders at the end of November 2017 in Ottawa. #reppingthe6ix

Didn’t cha know...

...that there actually used to be some American teams in the CFL. The first team from the US was admitted to the league in 1993 - called the Sacremento Gold Miners. US teams only played in the CFL for 3 seasons during the glory days of the 90s.

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Football is played in four, 15 minute quarters to make up a full game.


Is the same as attempt. In NFL you get four downs (attempts) to get ten yards. In the CFL this is only three.


A touchdown is worth six points. The touchdown zone is the big area at either end of the football field that the teams are trying to get to, or trying to prevent the opposing team of getting to. Football is known for some wacky TD celebrations. Check out some of these creative celeys.

Field Goal:

There are yellow goal posts that look like a T + H had a baby in the touchdown zones. A field goal is worth three points. It happens when the football is kicked through the uprights (another word for goal posts).

Red Zone:

In football, the red zone is the area of the field that’s between the 20-yard line and the touchdown zone. It’s called the red zone, b/c there’s a higher probability for the offensive team to score when they’re only 20 yards away from the touchdown zone.

1 Point Convert:

After a touchdown, the kicker needs to kick the ball through the uprights to get additional point.

2 Point Convert:

If a team rly needs points to tie/win a game, they’ll sometimes go for 2 point convert vs. one. This is when the team sets up a full play (no kicking allowed) to get back into the touchdown zone. This is definitely a trickier play.


If a team doesn’t make it the ten yards they need to with three downs, they usually a “punt” the ball. A punt is when the football gets snapped back to a kicker and they drop kick it as far down the field as they can.


The guy who’s ass the quarterback has to look at the whole game. They’re the ones who pass the ball from between their legs to the quarterback.

Quarterback AKA QB:

The #1 stunna. The MVP. The GOAT. They’re the guy who calls the play on the pitch. They’re the player on the team that’s designated to throw/pass the football to the players on the field.


Literally just means throwing the ball. In other sports, it also just means movement from one player to the next in order to maintain possession of the ball/puck/etc..

Onside kick:

The beginning of each football game starts with a kick to the other team. Normally you want to kick it as far as you can. An “onside” kick is one that’s kicked rly short on purpose so that your own team can recover the ball. This is normally a tactic that happens at the end of the game if a team is down by points. It’s really risky because if the opposing team still recovers the ball, they have amazing field position.

Running play:

You don’t have to throw the football every play in football. A running play is when the QB places the ball in fastest guys hands and he tries to run as far as he can.

Hail Mary:

When times running out, you’re down by a touchdown, you have nothing to lose, you just CHUCK IT as far as you can and pray to mother Mary that someone on your team is able to catch the ball and run for a touchdown.


When you do something outside of the rules. These are called penalties in hockey. Instead getting a timeout, the referees generally move the team BACK by a certain amount of yards (5, 10 or 15 yards). That means the team is further away from the ever precious touchdown zone, so you really don’t want to get a foul. You know if there’s a foul on the play, if the referee throws out their yellow flag onto the field during the play.


The head coach of each team can “challenge” a call twice a game when they disagree with the referee’s call. They can call a challenge by throwing out a red flag onto the field. If they lose a challenge, they lose a time out.

Time Out:

Each team has 3 timeouts per half and cannot carry over unused timeouts from the first half to the second half. These are normally taken when the head coach is like “WHOA NELLY” we need to sort ourselves out, when the players are like “durrrr don’t remember what we’re supposed to do here”, or as a stalling tactic against the other team.


When one team’s quarterback throws the ball, but the other team catches it. Accidents happen even to the pros.

Pick 6:

When there’s an interception and the other team is able to run it all the way back to get a touchdown.


This is when a player tackles the quarterback before the quarterback is able to throw the ball. Normally, a member of th defensive line makes the tackle, as it’s their goal to block the pass, or get the QB. This is HUGE because it means the offensive team loses a lot of yards.

Super Bowl:

This one’s for all the marbles for the NFL (National Football League). After 16 games in the regular season, followed by three rounds of playoff games, it’s time for the Super Bowl. This is where the best team from the AFC squares off against the best team from the NFC to be named the Champion of the football world. The Super Bowl is also known for the insanely overpriced commercials, the usually star-studded halftime show, eating until you faint, and drinking your pain away when your team loses.


Stands for American Football Conference and National Football Conference. The AFC and NFC have 16 NFL football teams in each, further divided into divisions. The conferences were formed back in the 70s b/c there used to actually be two major professional NFL teams in the States - the American Football League, and the National. Once they combined, they created the NFL, and just divided the teams up into conferences. #history

Grey Cup:

On our side of the border, the CFL (Canadian Football League) is playing for the Grey Cup. The best team in the East and the best team in the West go toe to toe to win the coveted trophy. Although the party is not as rowdy, the Grey Cup still has half-time entertainment, including the most recent Grey Cup halftime show being performed by the ever-young babe, Shania Twain. Impress me much.

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What does the “pocket” mean in football?

You might often hear the announcers in a football game say the word pocket. Contrary to popular belief, they are not talking about the pocket on your jeans. A pocket is this safe little space, created by the offensive linemen, where the quarterback stands to throw the football. 

Okay, so what do the announcers mean when they say “scramble”?

Basically this means that the quarterback is “scrambling”. This occurs when the QB leaves the comfort of the pocket and has to run outside of the pocket in order to pass the football. This is normally chaotic AF and makes fans v. stressed. 

What does “quarterback hovering at 6 ft mean?”

This literally just means that the quarterback is approximately 6 feet tall.

What else does the kicker do? Or do they literally just kick?

Alright. So there’s actually not a position termed “kicker”. In the NFL, there’s a punter and a field goal/kick-off specialist. Let us break it down for you: 

Field goal/kick-off specialists are kicking the ball from a static position. The kick-off occurs at the beginning of the game, halftime, or after a field goal/touchdown. This occurs when one team kicks the football from their side of half over to the other side of half to the other team. There’s generally a little stand that holds up the football for the kicker. 

Now, a field goal is when the kicker (in this case field goal/kick-off specialist) kicks the football through the uprights… those goal posts in the end zone. What happens during a field goal is: the ball is hutted to a player (usually the punter), who places the football on the ground and holds the top with their fingers, and the field goal specialist kicks it. There are laces on a football, and the laces always must face away from the kicker.

A punter is the player who drop kicks the football. The punter comes out on the field when the team hasn’t advanced the ball ten yards after their designated 3 (in CFL) or 4 (NFL) downs. Their goal is to try to kick the ball as far as they can, kick it as high as they can so that their teammates have time to reach it, and they also generally try to aim for one side of the field so that it helps to force their opponents out of bounds.

After the ball is kicked, both of these players (whichever one is on the field) stay on the field for that play, as there is a chance that the other team catches the football. When they catch the football, they try to run it back to the end zone, so the punter/specialist might actually have to tackle someone.

How do those fat players run so fast?

OK LOL AT THIS QUESTION!!!! Those “fat players” are generally the big boys that play offensive line or defensive line. These guys’ jobs is either to protect the quarterback or to go after the quarterback. The answer of how they run so fast is AGILITY. They are quick like cheetahs. They don’t need to run forever, they only need to take a handful of V QUICK steps, and often times they’re shuffling back ‘n’ forth too. Kind of like a dance. What’s impressive is that they’re able to be so agile and have great recovery time in order to keep up this agility play to play. 

Why is the CFL not as popular as the NFL? Is it becoming more popular?

CFL (Canadian Football League) isn’t as popular for a couple of reasons. First, the CFL isn’t of as high quality as the NFL. Generally, when players don’t make the NFL, they come to play in the CFL - cue Johnny Manziel. Outside of the "quality" of play, we think a lot of it also has to do with marketing. The NFL has some very deep pockets and capitalized on creative marketing, fantasy football, sports betting, The Super Bowl halftime show, etc. to get fans onboard. 

Why is college football not really a thing in Canada? Because I love FNL!

FNL for all of y’all out there is Friday Night Lights. College football in the US is literally like a religion. Some of the most popular school’s teams actually pull more of an audience than the NFL. It’s a big thing. 

Still though, you should know that college football is a thing in Canada! Unfortunately though, the Canadian universities run into the same problem as the CFL. Our schools don’t give full-ride (pay for everything) sports scholarships because our tuition is already so subsidized by the government. On the other hand, in the US, the top college players have legit EVERYTHING paid for, meaning that the top talent will go there first. 

Still. Go out and support your university team. Go watch your alma mater and definitely make sure you experience homecoming. 

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The GIST’s Guide to Super Bowl LII

 One of the best nights of the year is upon us, it’s the Super Bowl! The Super Bowl is strictly reserved for eating an unhealthy amount of food, watching insanely overpriced commercials, fangirling over the halftime show and drinking to your heart’s content (b/c it’s socially acceptable to show up late/hungover to work the Monday after). 



Oh, guess we should also mention that the Super Bowl is the best football game to watch of the year. It’s where the top two teams in the National Football League (NFL), one from each conference (1 from the AFC, and 1 from the NFC), square off to become the champion of the world. Dunno much about football? That’s okay, we gotchu. Be sure to check out The GIST’s Guide to Football here before you go to any Super Bowl parties

Kk, so give me the lowdown on this year's game

This year is Super Bowl LII. That’s Roman for 52. Fancy, fancy. This year, the reigning champs, the New England Patriots, take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Minnesota at the U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, February 4th. Unsurprisingly, the Patriots are the favourites by a five point spread. These two teams squared off in the Super Bowl back in the 2004/05 season, with the Patriots claiming victory 24-21. Over their tenure, the Patriots have won five Super Bowls whereas the Eagles are one of 13 teams to have never won it. That said, although the Patriots are favoured, the teams are quite evenly matched this year with both teams sporting a 13-3 regular season record. Like a night out in Vegas with your best gal pals, anything can happen in the Super Bowl.

PS: Since we wrote this article, The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl with a 41-33 win over the New England Patriots

Players to look out for

Obvi both teams have star studded line-ups, or else they wouldn’t be in the Bowl. Here’s the three players from each team you need to know:

New England Patriots

Tom Brady: Not only is Tom Brady really really really ridiculously good looking, but he’s also the best quarterback of all time. Brady is one of two players to have won five Super Bowls, and is the only QB ever to do so. He’s now made an appearance in a record eight AFC Championship games, and is Mr. Clutch in the playoffs. If Brady wins this Super Bowl, he will solidify his title as the GOAT. The only thing that could slow Brady down is an injury to his hand he sustained during practice prior to the AFC conference championship game. It required 12 stitches to repair, but it didn’t seem to phase him too much.

Rob Gronkowski (aka Gronk): Gronk plays tight end, and is Brady’s #1 target. Although he’s a big guy, he’s got great hands and is able to catch and bulldoze all those in front of him like no other. Unfortunately, Gronk sustained a concussion from a helmet to helmet hit in the AFC Championship game, but the big man says he’s ready to rumble. You should also know that Gronk is a fan fave - this guy doesn’t take himself too seriously and is actually srsly jokes. We rly rly rly recommend you check out the video of the Gronk just being the Gronk here.

Danny Amendola: Although Amendola is only 5ft 9inches, which is incredibly small for an NFL player, he makes a BIG impact on the field. Amendola plays wide receiver, and is Brady’s #2 guy to throw the ball to. He is insanely athletic and all Patriots fans should be bowing down to Amendola as he scored the two touchdowns that sealed the Patriots’ win in the AFC Championship to make it to the big Bowl. Fun fact about Danny? His go-to pre-game meal is Nutella and PB. Same as us...but for the pre-drink.

Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz: Not to be confused with your teenage crush Fall Out Boy guitar player, Pete Wentz, Carson was the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. We say was, because Wentz was having the season of his career, until he tore his ACL and LCL (ppsssttt, those are the ligaments in your knee) in week 14 of the regular season. You should also know that Wentz’s NFL jersey sold more than Brady’s jerseys this year. Maybe it’s because everybody already had Brady’s after his 5 prior Super Bowl wins??

Nick Foles: With Wentz down and out, Nick Foles, the backup quarterback (the guy who only plays when the QB is hurt) has been captaining the team. At first a lotta Eagles fans were nervous, but Foles has proven he’s ready for challenge. Foles has been unreal in the playoffs with the highest postseason completion (that means that the player he intended to throw it to, catches the ball) percentage in NFL history at 70.3%. The Patriots won’t be taking this guy lightly.

Fletcher Cox: Cox is one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL. It’s gonna be his goal to try to rattle Tom Brady by creating pressure for Brady to throw the ball faster before he gets SACed. He is the leader of the Eagles defensive squad, and as they say, defense wins you championships.

Let's be honest, we all wanna know about the Food and Entertainment

It’s gonna be filthy. This year’s halftime show artist is Justin Timberlake. Y’all may remember back in 2004, a young JT performed with Janet Jackson, which resulted in one of the most memorable Super Bowl halftime shows of all time when there was a, um, “wardrobe malfunction”. JT will have 13 minutes on stage, and generally the artists tend to share the stage. Our inner grade four selves are praying for an NSYNC reunion, or maybe our girl Britney Spears. A more realistic feature would be country-rock sensation Chris Stapleton, who JT has collabed with a lot lately. His voice is as smooth as Tennesse Whisky so we would 100% be behind that too.

Ok. So. Apparently the commercials this year are costing a whopping $7M for a 30 second spot. LIKE WTF. The Super Bowl is shown to a minimum 100M people in North America, but still, this figure is jaw dropping to us. The general theme of the classics this year are going to be throwbacks. It looks like Budweiser, Pepsi and M&Ms are looking to do some good ol’ #tbt. To that we say, wwwaasssuupppp.

Impress the Office Bros

This week, the bros will inevitably be yakking away about Super Bowl Sunday. Show ‘em you know what’s up with these fun facts:

  • Outside of Thanksgiving, Americans consume more food during the Super Bowl than any other day. Apparently, over 160 million avocados, obvi enjoyed as guac, are consumed. Everything they avo-wanted.
  • The average face-value cost per ticket is between $950-$5k. To put things in perspective, that’s like the cost of 10 beautiful Club Monaco jackets!!
  • Normally the Super Bowl is played in warm places like Cali and Florida. This year though, Minneapolis is expected to be as cold as -2 degrees Celsius. Brrrr, it’s cold in here.

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