Overused athlete clichés fans use

Woah, Zach decided to write a blog more than once a week? Yeah, I did, so shut up and read.

The Boston Celtics pulled off a July 4th miracle of sorts and signed free agent Gordon Hayward. If you don’t know him, he’s the dude that almost hit the greatest shot in basketball history:

…and once looked like this:


…but now looks like this:


Yeah, that guy.

Well, Celtics fans are all excited because they now believe their team is elite, can beat the Cavaliers, and win 17 more championships. Whether or not they’re built to win remains to be seen, but it’ll be a good team to watch going forward.

NBA free agency has brought out the best in fans. And by best, I mean insufferable opinions and hot takes online and on-air. Aside from imaginary trades and fans playing the role of make-believe general manager, the off-season is a time to release terrible clichés of players fans believe their favorite team is in need of acquiring.

These are terms used to describe a player’s game and how it fits into a certain team’s “system,” a cliché for a team’s game plan. Usually these originate from a media member reporting on potential signings, who’ll throw in a term or two to simplify a team’s needs. Boston’s signing of Hayward helped inspire this blog, so without further ado, here are the most cliché terms to describe players, written in the most cliché blog format:

“Create his own shot” – basketball

Prior to Hayward’s signing, it was a guarantee that every listener calling into Boston sports radio would desacribe the former Utah Jazz forward as a player who could “create his own shot.” This has been the term both fans and those on radio have used for weeks to describe both the Celtics’ needs and Gordon.

Quite frankly, I don’t fully understand it. Sure, teammates set screens, open lanes, and so on. But any player who puts the ball up is technically creating his own shot. If a player can’t create his own shot, is someone shooting for him? “No Zach you idiot! It means he can avoid the defense and get around guys to get open.” Oh, so he’s fast? He has great agility? Shaquille O’Neal is eighth all-time in points with 28,596, but I don’t think anyone describe him as someone who could “create his own shot” beause he was fat and slow. But I would argue he created enough shots to get into the hall of fame.

You can tell me I’m wrong, but your cliché sucks and sounds stupid.

“Ace/top of the rotation guy” -baseball

It’s not exactly the worst cliché, but something about it irritates me. The term “ace” sounds corny, like a secret weapon or tool that’ll be sure to take care of business. Yeah, I get the point, that’s what the best pitcher is supposed to be: a sure-thing pitcher that your team can rely on.

What’s comical is whenever fans say “we need an ace!”  Hey genius, no shit. Has anyone ever said they wanted a mediocre player? Every team needs the precious ace you desire so badly because that’s the goal of the game; to win with the best players.

A synonym is also “top of the rotation guy,” which doesn’t mean a thing when Clay Buchholz is being considered your team’s best pitcher. After reading through that article on one of the worst designed website out there, I now hate the term ace more than when I started writing this blog.

“Puck-moving defenseman” -hockey

It’s actually a pretty common term for offensive-minded defensemen, but I feel like it’s extremely overused by people who don’t know much about hockey.

*team loses 2-1*

“Dude, this team sucks! They need a puck-moving defenseman to get the offense going. And while they’re at it, our goalie sucks. I would’ve stop those two goals!”

It’s sort of like the hockey equivalent to a guy who can “create his own shot.” Plus, it’s not like defensemen stand in one spot the whole time. They do move the puck, but fans want them to move more and generate offense. So perhaps a . . . offensive-defenseman??


“Franchise QB” and “WR who can take the top off the defense” – football

The term “franchise quarterback” is similar to an ace in baseball, except football fans give it this deeper meaning. It’s always the question for quarterbacks picked early in the NFL Draft.

“Is this player potentially a franchise quarterback? Can he lead this team to a Super Bowl and be one of the greats?”

Thanks greased-up-hair-guy for yelling at me through my television with your questions of whether a 22-year-old football player will be the savior of a sports team. Just like an ace, if a quarterback is talented, then he’ll be a “franchise” quarterback. Simple enough.

But we never hear this term with other positions. When’s the last time a team had a franchise guard? Or a franchise punter? Obviously quarterback is the most important position in football, but that “franchise” label is the most over-hyped term in football. It’s like asking if Joe Flacco is a elite quarterback. If a quarterback is talented enough, you’ll have a good team.

While Batman had Robin, quarterbacks have wide receivers. And friends, nothing gets fans excited like a wide receiver who can “take the top off the defense.” This means the receiver is a “deep threat” or in simple terms, runs faster than the defense and can catch the ball. It’s such a corny cliché that’s said by fans who want to sound like football guys in the film room. It’s not a special term and fans will get pissed when the defense makes adjustments against the special-super-duper receiver and can’t “take the top off.”

Did I miss any clichés? Tweet me some @zacharyadamgray