Why Would You Ever Drop the Football?

I get excited about football season, both college and professional. As I’ve discussed before, I don’t mind seeing athletes celebrate when they score. It’s a joyful moment–why shouldn’t they share their enthusiasm in creative ways?

But I continue to be baffled by football players who drop the football (uncontested) before they reach the end zone as they begin their celebration. This happened not once, but twice on Saturday:

credit ESPN for the screenshot

I understand that in the moment they get carried away and want to start celebrating. But holding the football is one of the best parts of playing football. Even just intuitively, if given a choice, why would you stop holding it? There’s no reason to drop the football until the referee tells you to give it to them.

This seems like a coachable skill. Train players never to let go of the football until they absolutely have to.

What do you think? Can football players be coached not to make a mental error like this?

2 thoughts on “Why Would You Ever Drop the Football?”

  1. Mentioned this post to my husband while playing Tzolk’in tonight, and… Apparently it’s sometimes a clock management tactic rather than a mistake.

    As I understood his explanation, if you’re less than a field goal behind towards the end of the game, you can spike the ball at the 1 yard line, run the clock down, and score a field goal with no time on the clock, rather than giving the opponents a chance to get a touch down.

    Interestingly, this seems to be sufficiently standard play that defenses will sometimes not defend as well as they might otherwise do, even attempt to cause a player to fall over the goal line , which I think happened in a super bowl a couple of years back? (The other side wasn’t able to get a TD in the final minute or so, meaning the winning touch down in a super bowl was scored by accident)

    • Definitely, that is a legitimate strategy–it’s just not what’s happening in these examples. These football players are trying to score a touchdown in situations where they need/want to score, and they’re starting to celebrate too early.


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