Sports | October 19, 2017 12:27 pm

NFL Huddle Dying a Slow, Offensive Death

Why teams are doing away with one of football's most recognizable quirks.

If you count yourself among the dying breed that still watches professional football on TV, you may have noticed something strange of late. Quarterbacks have been rounding up their teammates in huddles fewer times. It’s not your imagination, either. The huddle is slowly dying.

Per the New York Times, this is because teams are in hotter pursuit of scoring opportunities than ever before, and that has armed them with what is called the “no-huddle offense.” (Here’s looking at you, Tom Brady.) “The no-huddle offense does take away a bit of the traditional look of a football game,” John K. Mara, an owner of the New York Giants, told the Times. “Just part of the evolution of the game.”

Some current and former players talked about the huddle with the Times. We’ve teased out some of the best quotes below.

Washington Redskins legend Joe Theismann – “The huddle has been romanticized, with good reason. We did it so often. I know people wondered what was going on in there. Personally, I always found it fascinating that the crowd noise would be deafening, but the huddle was usually a very, very quiet place.”

Dallas Cowboys legend Roger Staubach – “As players in the huddle, you’re all alone in the middle of the field but together at the same time. You see who is hurt, who’s tired or who’s spitting mad. You can take that all in, which can be powerful.”

Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins – “There’s always been some allure of the huddle where people imagine Ray Lewis or some star player yelling and pumping up the whole team. That’s an image on TV and in Hollywood movies. But that doesn’t really happen now. Everything is happening so much faster that a whole conversation might be communicated in just a look. There’s no time for theatrics.”

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (on an alternative to the traditional huddle) – “The TV timeouts are when we can interact. You can go over a route change with a wide receiver or talk to your linemen. Guys will be encouraging each other, you know, ‘Two minutes to go, let’s punch it into the end zone.’ It does happen.”