Definition of American football noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary


American football

BrE BrE//əˌmerɪkən ˈfʊtbɔːl//
; NAmE NAmE//əˌmerɪkən ˈfʊtbɔːl//
(British English) (North American English football) [uncountable] American football
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a game played by two teams of 11 players, using an oval ball which players kick, throw, or carry. Teams try to put the ball over the other team’s line. See related entries: American football Culturefootball – American styleFootball is one of the major sports in the US. In Britain and elsewhere the game is often called American football to distinguish it from soccer. American football developed from the games of football and Rugby. There is a lot of dangerous play, so helmets (= hard round hats) and thick pads must be worn. Each game has cheerleaders (= people that lead shouts of support for a team) and bands of musicians that march on the field between the halves of the game. Whole families go to watch games, and there is almost no violence from supporters. Many games are shown live on US television. British television now also shows some games. In US high schools, colleges and universities, football games are the centre of many social events, such as homecoming.The game is played by two teams of 11 players each, with different players used for defense, offense and kicks. The field is 100 yards/91.5 metres long and 53 yards 1 foot/49 metres wide. It is sometimes called a gridiron because the lines across it that mark every 10 yards/9 metres make it look like the metal tray on which meat is grilled or broiled. At each end of the field there is an extra 10 yards/9 metres, called the end zone, with a goal post in the shaped of an ‘H’. The ball is oval-shaped and sometimes called a pigskin because the balls were formerly made from the skin of pigs.A team scores when its players send the ball down the field and across the opponent's goal line for a touchdown of six points. They can then add a point after touchdown (PAT) if they kick the ball through the goal posts. A team can get three points if the ball is kicked between the goal posts without a touchdown, and two points if their defense stops the opponents in their own end zone.The team with the ball must move it 10 yards/9 metres in four downs (= separate actions). This is done from behind linemen who face the defense's linemen. An action begins when the quarterback takes the ball from between the legs of the center and runs with it, hands it to another runner or passes (= throws) it to another player. Between actions, the team with the ball has a huddle so the quarterback can tell them what to do next. If 10 yards/9 metres are not made in 4 downs, the team can punt (= kick the ball to the other team). The defense can also get the ball by an interception (= a catch of the opponent's pass) or a fumble (= a ball accidentally dropped).The National Football League (NFL) has 32 professional teams. Teams from the American Football Conference and from the National Football Conference play against each other to decide the two that will meet in the Super Bowl. Some well-known teams include the Dallas Cowboys, the Denver Broncos, the Green Bay Packers, the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers.The best college teams play in bowl games, e.g. the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl. The best college players are chosen as All-Americans. Famous professional players almost always play in college teams first. They have included Jim Brown, Jim Thorpe, OJ Simpson and Joe Montana.