Become a Football Official
Officiating Jargon 101

Officiating and other football jargon

PSK- Post Scrimmage Kick (foul). Certain conditions must be met (Rule 2-16-2-h). These fouls have a special enforcement spot.

trips - 3 receivers to one side of the formation. This  may alter pre-snap keys for all but the umpire.

pressed - when a defender is lined up within 2 yards of a receiver on the line of scrimmage

I like Coors Light (or actual beer) - If the Referee responds this way after you've reported to him you just made a major goof, that means you're buying the first round after the game

punch 11 - counting team A or B and signaling you've counted 11 players

punch off (back) - wing officials signaling to other wing the widest guy on their side is off the line of scrimmage; signaling a pass to the flat is backwards 

covered - when a potential receiver is lined up on the line of scrimmage and a receiver outside of him is also on the line of scrimmage, "covering up" the interior receiver making him ineligible

blade of grass stagger - in reference to formations, finding a slight stagger between receivers so the formation can be ruled legal and preventing a foul from being called

key - the player or players a certain official is responsible for at the snap. Keys may or may not change during the down once the play declares.

declare - action during the play by the team or an individual player that reveals the play design or intent of the play or player (ex. linemen releasing downfield to block on a screen pass)

I think I saw - you didn't see it. Cousin of "it looked like PI, hold, face mask, etc"

BUN (Big Ugly Nothing) - loud collision, bodies flying, had to be a foul right? Nope, it's called a "football play". It's a collision sport after all. 

previous spot - the spot where the ball was last snapped. This applies both longitudinally and laterally.

succeeding spot - where the ball will next be snapped or free kicked

basic spot - the spot determined by the type of play that was run, and relates to foul enforcement.

crashing in - when an official charges in hard and quickly to mark a critical spot or to subdue a hot spot.

hot spot - an engagement between opposing players that is getting 'heated' and may lead to fouls if not cooled down

separating colors - observing players during the immediate time after a play is over and ensuring they go back to their sideline or huddle without engaging each other; part of dead ball officiating

bad color - when the referee sees a defender break through the offensive blocking wall or pocket; a player (usually offense) getting beat. Attention goes here because fouls are more likely to happen

force field or invisible fence - when the umpire won't come outside the hash marks to retrieve the ball because an invisible fence stops him

ball watching - watching the ball or player in possession of the ball (runner) when it's not necessary, and leads to missing important action nearby (potential fouls)

pull and shoot - when a defender (usually a lineman) holds and restricts his opponent creating a hole for his teammate (usually a LB) to shoot through and make a tackle

jet pass or jet sweep - a play where a back goes in motion across the formation and the QB receives the shotgun snap and quickly pitches the ball forward to the back

digging a hole - when an official is looking at his foot marking a spot out of bounds instead of keeping his head up and watching players during dead ball action

officiating air - an official not paying attention to players; can be live ball or dead ball action

the holding coach - the assistant coach who screams "that's holding!" on every play, but only when his team is on defense for some reason. Typically doubles as the "PI Coach".

running with a brick, swimming upstream - a player who is going against the flow of the play, usually to commit a foul such as a blindside block or other personal foul; a player who deserves special focus

double action - action that occurs after the ball is legally dead. Typically refers to forward progress spots. When an official spots the ball as a result of double action, the runner can be granted yardage he didn't earn such as when he slides or falls forward after being down, or the defense can be granted yardage it didn't earn such as when a runner is driven backwards and spotting the ball where he falls instead of where forward progress was stopped.

chase mode - when a player is chasing his opponent and approaching him from behind (4 o'clock to 8 o'clock position on a clock face). Usually in the context of illegal blocks in the back.

happy feet - when an official moves from his original pre snap position too early, taking himself out of position. It is common for newer officials to have severe cases of happy feet, especially at wing position

ghost flag - when an official calls a foul that didn't happen (this is not desirable)

growing roots - when an official doesn't move at all (and he should have) on a play. Most commonly affects veteran white hats, but could be any position

survival mode - when an official gets too close to the action, and is running to save himself from getting hit by players. Usually it's the official's fault, and typically we have stopped officiating when in this mode

missile launch, moon shot - when an official throws an emotional flag super high in the air

angry flag - when an official spikes a flag into the ground showing emotion

carpet bombing - when one official throws two flags on one play, or when over half the crew has flags on a play

Mariani toss - Any flag toss of 25+ yards. (Must land within 2 yards of foul spot to qualify). Two in a game qualifies for free beer.

he got taken out to IHOP - When a player gets blocked so well that he gets "pancaked"

philosophy or officiating standard - how a rule is applied in a game, in lieu of the "black and white" requirement of the rule (example: "blade of grass stagger" above)

Prima Donna - another name for the Back Judge (typically the best looking official on the crew)