Brett Favre

Most overused cliches in sports

Announcers, talking heads, sportswriters and even the athletes and coaches are a lazy lot. Sure, they travel more than the average person, and some of them actually put a lot of hours into honing their craft. But that doesn’t stop a goodly portion of them from repeating the same bits of wisdom again and again and again, pawning them off on the general public as if they were original thoughts.

I’m not even talking about the old standards either, like, “We need to play one game at a time.” Or trite, recycled lines about effort like, “He gave 110 percent” and “He left it all out there on the field.” I’m talking about sports-specific comments that have seamlessly become a part of our lives, even though the thinking behind them is either overly simplistic or incorrect.

As someone who’s spent the majority of the past 32 years listening to announcers, talking heads, sportswriters, athletes and coaches drop what passes for knowledge in the world of sports, I’ve put together a list of the 10 things for each of the three major sports that all these people love to say the most. Trust me, you’ll hear at least one of these cliches in the next week, and all of them at some point in your life.


1. About a hoops team that’s well-stocked with players of the caucasian persuasion: “This team has a great basketball IQ. They just know how to play the game.”

2. About a hoops team that is a little less Duke-ish in the ethnicity dept.: “What a bunch of athletes. These guys are raw, but with tremendous upside…”

3. Otherwise known as the Erick Dampier corollary: “When a big man runs the floor, you have to reward him by giving him some touches.”

4. Why the Warriors win about as often as it snows in San Francisco: “(Fill-in-the-blank team)’s offense is sparked by their defense.”

5. Only Mark Jackson says this, but it drives me crazy because I still don’t know what it means: “The man is a knockdown shooter.”

6. Maybe you should have asked them to play Apples to Apples instead: “We want to force them to play our game.”

7. Said by home announcers when an opponent misses 2 free throws after a dubious call: “The basketball Gods spoke there.” (Or as Rasheed Wallace would say, “Ball don’t lie.”)

8. Yep, there’s Sheed, and Big Baby, and DeJuan Blair, and Shaq — the list goes on and on: “These guys are the best athletes in the world.”

9. We’ll see if they say that after he bolts this off-season: “As great a player as LeBron James is, he’s an even better teammate.”

10. Sure, if the clock turned back to 1991: “That guy just got posterized!”


1. Maybe that’s why they call it a “warning track”: “At Wrigley Field, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the ivy on those walls provides any padding. It doesn’t, and that brick wall isn’t very forgiving.”

2. Skippers are such picky, predictable creatures: “I’ll tell you, it drives (fill-in-the-blank manager) crazy when a reliever comes in and walks the first guy he faces.”

3. Not to mention these punk kids with their long hair, talking on their damn cellphones all day: “Pitching inside is a lost art.”

4. That’s what she said: “The key is to be strong up the middle.”

5. So if we win the first two games, we always try to lose the third: “We’re just trying to win series.”

6. The third one can be pretty important too, from what I’ve been taught: “The most important pitch in baseball is strike one.”

7. This is code for “he could bean anyone at any given time, but he’s got a decent ERA”: (Fill-in-the-blank pitcher) is effectively wild.”

8. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault: “He’s trying to hit a 10-run homer every time he steps into the batter’s box.”

9. What I mean is, he’s really slow and old: “(Fill-in-the-blank veteran) is a gamer.”

10. And… Sabeanisms: “We’re kicking the tires.” “Due-dilligence.”


1. Oh, and here I thought it was dancing and gossiping: “The name of the game is blocking and tackling.”

2. In case you forgot what game they’re playing or what they’re trying to do: “Football players make football plays. It’s time to make a football play in this football game, preferably with the football in the football player’s hand on the football field.” (OK, I threw in that last part. Probably needs more “National Football League” references, too.)

3. That’s why he avoids training camp like it’s a cold-sore covered prostitute suffering from leprosy: “Brett Favre just loves to play the game. You can tell by watching how he plays. He’s like a kid out there.” (Barely missing the cut: Brett Favre is a warrior/gunslinger.)

4. What gave you that idea, the fact that Phillip Rivers is putting up HOF numbers?: “With all the rule changes, the NFL has become a passing league.”

5. You mean he yells at his teammates and disregards the plays the actual coach calls?: “He’s like another coach out there on the field.”

6. Wow, I’ve never heard this metaphor for line play before!: “It’s like running into a brick wall at 25 mph, 50 times every Sunday.”

7. No, he has a major concussion: “He sure got his bell rung!”

8. Great, now my fantasy football team is screwed: “These days, coaches are leaning towards going with running back by committee.”

9. Wait…what?????: “In order for it to be considered a catch, he has to make a football move.”

10. Channeling Simmons: “(Fill in the blank) is out with a knee.”

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