Celebrating the Trick Play, Football’s Great Deception

In this age of NFL scandals and league coverups, the trick play is a legal way to cheat.


The basic principles of offensive football are black and white. The quarterback has the ball, he’s throwing it. Running back, he’s running. Kicker is kicking. Easy. Simple. Comforting.

The trick play drops a cluster bomb onto this orderliness. It exists in an entirely different world than a formal play call, a combination magic trick and mean joke, turning a defense on its head, revealing mischievous genius and creative absurdity without a wink or a moment’s notice. It’s an equalizer, one of the game’s truest brains-versus-brawn propositions. Its existence plants that tiny, terrified tic in the back of every defensive coach’s mind that keeps them from playing it too safe, too aggressive — to not get caught with their pants down. In this age of scandals, league coverups and dirty college coaches, it’s a legal way to break the tactical “rules.” And, carried out perfectly and at the right time, it is an unstoppable weapon. If that doesn’t make it the coolest play in football, what does?

The Bouncing Lateral


Play to the whistle, gentlemen.

Fake Punt, Fake Reverse


Two trick plays in one! Who says punters have no fun.

Wrong Side, Guys…


Proof that simplicity is often the lynchpin of the best trickery.

Trick Field Goal


Can you see it? We can’t see it. Props to offensive coordinator David Blaine.

Punt… No Punt


1. Don’t give master of trickery Les Miles this opportunity; 2. It’s called back, because apparently there is no place for fun in football.

Give It the Ol’ College Fake


The fake in the clutch is perhaps the best fake there is.

The Puntrooskie


Old school, between the legs.

Brady’s Statue of Liberty


It was in 2007, which means the Patriots were probably cheating illegally while cheating legally.

Stafford’s Fake Spike


Marino did it first, but Stafford did it best.

The Fumblerooski


Perhaps the most classic of fakes, and for good reason. Purposeful fumbling is mad genius.

The Downside: They Don’t Always Work


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