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Flea flicker

Posted by Joe on January 04, 2009 at 17:06

In Reply to: Flea flicker posted by Steve on January 04, 2009 at 16:27:

: What is the derivation of the football term "flea flicker"?
3. How did football's flea-flicker get its name?

Answer: In a flea-flicker, the quarterback typically hands off or laterals to a running back, who after running several steps turns around and laterals back to the quarterback, who then heaves the ball downfield to a (hopefully) open receiver. The play and its name are both credited to legendary University of Illinois coach Bob Zuppke, who intended the phrase to evoke the quick, flicking action of a dog getting rid of fleas. (We got that from the 1967 book Football Lingo, co-authored by none other than's own Dr. Z, so you know it's right.) Zuppke wrote in a 1951 letter that he introduced the flea-flicker while coaching at Oak Park High in 1910 before he arrived in Champaign, though his description ("a short forward pass ending in a lateral, with interference for the ballcarrier") sounds more like a hook-and-ladder or hook-and-lateral. The prevailing modern version of the flea-flicker might actually be closer to another Zuppke innovation involving a "multiplicity of passes" that he dubbed the "flying trapeze." I'd ask Dr. Z myself, but frankly, the man terrifies me.

First use in print is 1943 in newspapers and books, some say it was first done in 1907.