American football is a game that is enjoyed by millions of people all over the world. It is a physically demanding sport that requires a great deal of skill, strategy, and teamwork.
One of the most important positions in American football is the center. In this article, we will take a closer look at what a center is, their role in the game, and what it takes to be a successful center.
The center is a position in football found on the offensive side of the football team.
As one of the offensive linemen, the center lines up in the middle of the offensive line on the line of scrimmage. They are often one of the shortest and most compact players on the team, as they need to have a low center of gravity in order to be able to push their opponents back. Centers are typically very strong and have a lot of power in their legs, which allows them to drive their opponents off the ball.
What are their responsibilities?
Let's take a closer look at exactly what a center is required to do:
Snap the ball: One of the primary responsibilities of a center in football is to snap the ball to the quarterback. This happens at the start of every offensive play, where he must pitch the ball between his legs to the quarterback which signals the play has begun.
Blocking: The center is responsible for blocking the opposing team's defensive line, particularly the nose tackle, who is lined up directly in front of the center. They may also be required to block other defensive players like linebackers and safeties, depending on the specific design of the play.
Read the defense: Centers need to have a good understanding of the opposing team's defensive strategy to adjust their blocking assignments on the fly.
What makes a good center?
One of the most important skills that a center needs to have is accurately and quickly snapping the ball to the quarterback. This is because the quarterback needs to be able to get the ball and make a decision quickly, whether it is to hand it off to a ball carrier or throw it to a receiver. A bad snap can result in a fumble or a loss of yards, which can be disastrous for the offense. When the center regularly snaps the football with precision and speed, the offense tends to run more smoothly.
In addition to snapping the ball, centers are also responsible for blocking their opponents. Centers also need to be able to block on the second level, which means they need to be able to get to the linebacker and stop them from making a tackle on run plays. Therefore centers need to be agile and quick on their feet, but also be able to hold their ground against some of the strongest players in the league.
When in pass protection, which is a different style of blocking to run-blocking. The entire offensive line - offensive tackles, centers and guards - are all responsible for stopping rushers reaching the quarterback before he can throw the ball. This requires a great sense of awareness, supreme balance and fantastic coordination.
Perhaps the most important skill for a center is a high football IQ. Centers are typically the leaders of the offensive line, meaning they will often call out different blocking assignments depending on the formation and look of the defense. The center will work very closely with the quarterback in deciding the block schemes, but the center certainly carries most of the workload when it comes to decision making for the offensive line.
Famous NFL Centers:
Mike Webster: A Pittsburgh Steelers legend, Webster played in the NFL from 1974 to 1990 and won four Super Bowls during his career. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.
Jim Otto: Otto played for the Oakland Raiders from 1960 to 1974 and was a three-time AFL champion and 10-time AFL All-Star. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
Mike Pouncey: Pouncey played for the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers from 2011 to 2020 and was a four-time Pro Bowler. He retired from the NFL in 2021.
Jeff Saturday: Saturday played for the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers from 1999 to 2012 and was a six-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro. He retired from the NFL in 2013.
Jason Kelce: Kelce has played for the Philadelphia Eagles since 2011 and has been a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro. He helped lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory in 2018 and is known for his passionate speeches and unique fashion sense.