Vertical game

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Sun Jan 9 07:36:46 UTC 2005

On Sat, 8 Jan 2005 19:02:28 EST, James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at AOL.COM> wrote:

>I don't recall ever having heard the phrase "vertical game" (meaning long
>passes in American football) before this year's NFL season, when the
>commentators on the Philadelphia Eagles seemed to use it in every game.
>However, I found what purports to be a 1999 Web site
>which contains "If a quarterback emerges who can do anything to give the
>Badgers a vertical game in the three important conference matchups, the
>Badgers could shock the nation and go to the Sugar Bowl or at least
>return to the Rose Bowl."

Here's a 1986 cite:

  New York Times, Aug 31, 1986, p. S1
  "He's a guy who can catch the ball in the vertical game very
  well," Hackett said. "He's a hand catcher, he can jump and leap
  and catch it. He looks smooth running the routes, he flows into
  it very easily."

That's a quote about Herschel Walker from Paul Hackett -- then the Dallas
 Cowboys' pass offense coordinator, now the Jets' offensive coordinator
(whose dubious play-calling continues to give Jets fans conniptions).

And here's an earlier NY Times cite, from a 1981 column by NBC Nightly
News producer Henry L. Griggs complaining about the incomprehensible
commentating on that year's Super Bowl broadcast:

  New York Times, Feb 1, 1981, p. S2
  Someone then added, "The vertical game is the deep game."

--Ben Zimmer

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