Home Columns Jen’s Friday Night Insights: Football, Fun and Factoids

Jen’s Friday Night Insights: Football, Fun and Factoids

by Jen Polvogt

Send this to your partner, friend or parent if they have no clue about football. 

Want to have a seat at the table when people are talking about football? You have to start with the basics. And I’m here to help. 

This week, instead of my usual life advice, followed by in-depth fantasy football analysis, I want to shed some light on the basics of football for my friends who need a little help. Make sure you read to the end and reward yourself with my drink recipe of the week. 

Now, for the basics.

The National Football League (NFL):

2 conferences.

8 divisions.

32 teams.

512 coaches.

1,696 players.

That’s a lot.


Your eyes are crossing, I get it.

Who here feels like a fish out of water when people are talking sports? 

Who wants to take some baby steps to learn the basics? 

Imagine this: You log into your Monday morning meeting, and you hear:

“Did you catch the Broncos game yesterday? I can’t believe they couldn’t punch it into the end zone. Thank God for McManus.” 

…and you’re like… “Hi, what?” as your eyes glaze over. What do these words even mean? What is a McManus? Did the Broncos win? So here you are, at a disadvantage because you can’t engage in the conversation. Maybe you don’t even care because it seems so daunting.

But here’s the deal:  There is value in getting to know sports no matter your interests. I know it’s overwhelming. We’ve all been there!

After talking to one of my best friends last week, she mentioned a similar scenario and I feel like it’s my obligation, privilege and passion to take on this challenge. I want you to love football, and I want you to understand it. Let me break it down for you. 

I’m going to give you five keywords that you must know. Let’s start with five, and then we’ll progressively build upon that in future columns: 

Touchdown (six points):  A touchdown is when a player runs or catches the ball in the end zone, that’s worth six points. Afterward, the kicking team comes out, and they typically attempt an extra point or two by either kicking a field goal or attempting a conversion.

Field goal (three points):  A field goal is the result of a kicker knocking the football through the goal post when his team can’t manage a touchdown. 

Yard lines:  The white lines on the field. They measure a distance of 1 yard (3 feet) between each white line. 

First down:  A first down is achieved by the ball traveling 10 yards. We’ll get into the importance of this in subsequent columns. 

End zones:  The end of the field with the home team’s name depicted on the grass. 

So, these are the basic terms you need to know. And now that you have those basics down, we can drill down on more terms in the coming weeks.

In the future, if your boss is talking about the Broncos, but you know nothing about them — again, what’s a McManus? Pick a team that’s from your home state. Sit down, leave your phone in another room and watch the game this week and ask questions. All you need to do is pick two big plays from that team and be able to insert those two things into a conversation. 

Tight end Robert Tonyan caught three touchdown passes in Week 4.

For example, “But did you see how Aaron Rodgers decimated the Falcons on Monday Night Football? Robert Tonyan had THREE receiving TD’s. Who saw that coming?” 

Now, I don’t want you to feel like a fraud, but I want you to feel comfortable enough to hang in the conversation for another 30 seconds, then politely bow out. 

People who are left out of the conversation because they “know nothing about sports” is unfortunate. Use what your mama gave ya and join the conversation. And never be afraid to admit that you don’t know about a specific player, or team, or referenced game. It’s a conversation! Lean in, take part and learn something new along the way. 

This isn’t to say that every person has to join the conversation to be relevant, but by taking the time to understand the sport, you might find that you enjoy it! 

Also, follow @themorningbrew to get a quick read on the football happenings (from the prior weekend), along with stock tips, quick reads on politics, life advice and the economy. They’ll give you quick hits on everything pertaining to adulting in a five-to-10-minute read.

Now, how about some football?

Jen’s Week 6 Friday Night Insights

Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Dallas Cowboys)

Fifth-year running back Ezekiel Elliott struggled last week against the Arizona Cardinals. Dallas Quarterback Dak Prescott is out with a compound fracture and dislocated right ankle, ending the season for him. 

In came Andy Dalton to fill in, but he and Elliott aren’t vibing. With two fumbles (dropped balls) and just 49 rushing yards, he’s going to have to find his groove with Dalton and step up in a big way this week. 

Darren Waller (TE, Las Vegas Raiders)

Raiders’ tight end Darren Waller is coming off a restful bye week (the one week in a season when the team takes a break no practice, no film review, nothing) and will be charging into this week against a tough matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Based on past performance, we can expect Waller to have a great game. He is a consistent player and is considered one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Quarterback Derrek Carr loves to throw the ball to Waller, and I see no reason why that shouldn’t carry through to this week. 

I always end my columns with a game day drink, and this week is no different. 

I’m here to join the conversation, drink in hand, and watch this crazy COVID-19 year unfold. Cheers!

Game Day Drink Recipe for the Week:

Grandma Johnson’s 12oz Margarita (Courtesy of my mom, Kelly Johnson)

  • 1 12 oz beer (any brand)
  • 1 12 oz frozen can of limeade, defrosted
  • 1 12 oz can 7-Up
  • 12 oz tequila (easy measurement tool  use the empty can of limeade to measure the tequila)
  • Pour all ingredients in a pitcher, add ice, stir and enjoy!

Stay tuned for more football basics, and in the meantime, you can shout me out or direct message me if you have specific questions at @JenPolvogt on Twitter.

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