The Code: Football's Unwritten Rules and Its Ignore-At-Your-Own-Risk Code of Honor
Football is a sport steeped in a culture of violence, intimidation, and brutality, but players have learned to navigate through the minefield of its ... Show synopsis Football is a sport steeped in a culture of violence, intimidation, and brutality, but players have learned to navigate through the minefield of its physical demands by adhering to an honor code of sportsmanship known simply as "the code." As mysterious as it is sacred, the code is an unwritten set of rules that has been handed down from generation to generation. While the code has been around since the early days of the National Football League, it remains a taboo subject shrouded in secrecy. Under the threat of penalties, fines, and suspensions, players have to use stealth and ingenuity when retaliating against dirty players out on the field. Sure, bench clearing brawls will occur from time to time, but most of the revenge that goes on is behind the scenes. Patience must be exercised when settling old scores, and the veterans will wait until the time is right to exact the justice they feel fits the crime. While the game has changed immensely over the years, one thing remains the same--the players still police themselves. They know that if they break the rules of the code, then there will be hell to pay. At its core, football is all about respect and disrespect, and if a teammate is cheap-shotted, blind-sided, or is chopped at the knees, then the wheels of retaliation will be set into motion. The code is not just about head-slaps, verbal taunting, and the many unseen horrors that can occur under the pile. It is also about running up the score late on a team, excessive celebrations, head-hunting after interceptions, bounties, eye-gouging, and rookie initiations. The old adage "if you ain't cheatin, you ain't tryin" has always applied out on the gridiron and includes things such as stick-um, siliconed jerseys, cold showers, and of course, steroids. And let's not forget all of the espionage that goes on both on and off the field as well. Everything from "Spygate" to dummy play-books to lip-reading is fair game--unless you get caught.