To help with spellings and usage in coverage of the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis, The Associated Press has compiled a style guide of essential pro football terms, phrases and definitions. Some terms are from the AP Stylebook: http://www.apstylebook.com/. Others are common usage in AP sports stories. The terms include input from AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. See a list of terms below sent to AP members and subscribers in a Jan. 26 advisory.
Super Bowl 46
New York Giants vs. New England Patriots on Sunday, Feb. 5, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Spectators: 68,000. TV audience in U.S.: more than 100 million expected.
National Football League
Comprised of the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference.
The Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady, are AFC champions with 15 victories, 3 losses and no ties in regular season and playoff games. The Giants, led by quarterback Eli Manning, are NFC champions with a record of 12-7-0.
Postseason vs. playoffs
The terms aren't interchangeable. NFL postseason encompasses all the games after the regular season ends, including the Super Bowl. Playoffs refer only to the wild-card, divisional round and AFC and NFC conference championship games.
By the numbers
Use figures for yardages, scores, statistics, clock time, schedules:
4 seconds before halftime
8 for 18 for 200 yards and a touchdown.
gained 3 yards, not three yards
third-and-4, second-and-10, etc.
Week 4, Week 11, Game 12.
8½ sacks, not 8.5 sacks
day to day or day-to-day basis
defensive pass interference, not DPI
field goal, not FG
goal line, goal-line stand
interception, not INT
kick off (v.), kickoff (n., adj.)
sideline, on the sidelines
touchdown, TD acceptable on follow-ups.
Xs and Os, no apostrophes
wildcat, wildcat offense
Spell out a player's position on first reference. In follow-ups, mix in QB for quarterback, RB for running back, FB for fullback, WR for wide receiver, TE for tight end, DE for defensive end, DT for defensive tackle, LB for linebacker or CB for cornerback (though never just corner).
yards passing, yards receiving, touchdowns rushing, etc. Not passing yards, receiving yards, rushing touchdowns.
Descriptive vs. possessive
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, not Patriots' quarterback or Patriot quarterback. However, use the possessive in appositives: Tom Brady, the Patriots' quarterback.
For yard lines, Colts 31, not Colts' 31. Also Colts 31-yard line.
All-Pro is reserved for AP first-team All-Pros. If a player goes to the Pro Bowl, it does not make him an All-Pro.
Instead of former MVP or former Heisman Trophy winner, cite the year the honor was won.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, a capitalized title.
coach, owner, general manager are lowercase
Giants coach Tom Coughlin, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie.
offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator Don't abbreviate as OC or DC.
A field goal clears the crossbar, not the goal posts.
Avoid "Hail Mary.'' Use desperation pass instead.
Don't use "fumblerooski'' for a strange turnover. Describe the play.
It's end zone, not pay dirt.
No such thing as a "forward lateral.'' A lateral is tossed sideways or backward.
Only a quarterback gets sacked. Other ball carriers are tackled for a loss.