Run-Pass-Option: The Oldest Play in the Book!

I know it’s been a while since I posted here, but I promise to try to do so more often. There was a great story in the NYT today discussing the oldest play in the book – the run-pass-option, or as commonly called today, the “RPO.”  To read the full story, click here.  From the NYT article:

“It’s a heady time for a play that is at least 108 years old. In fact, the newly popular option pass is probably the oldest trick play in football still regularly in use.

In Kansas, however, a group of coaches and players from the 1910 College of Emporia football team laid claim to the first methodical, regular use of the halfback option under the direction of Coach Homer Woodson Hargiss. In recorded interviews from nearly 50 years ago, the 1910 Emporia team insisted that halfback Wayne B. Granger routinely faked a run and then threw the football. Granger’s nickname was “Twisty.”

How can you not believe any story with a protagonist named Twisty?

What is known unequivocally is that the option pass — almost always executed off an end-around play or a sweep to the left or right — was commonplace beginning in the 1920s. It was usually a slow developing play with the running back waiting for overeager linebackers and defensive backs to surge forward.”

There’s a great film clip of the RPO being used by the Dallas Cowboys against the Green Bay Packers in the “Ice Bowl,” one of the most famous games in NFL history.  And it just goes to show that there is rarely anything new in football – someone’s already thought of it.  For example, the “Wild Cat” offense is just the single wing offense from the early days of football.  Keep you eyes open when watching today’s NFL and you just might see some of its history.

That’s all for now football fans,

Sterling Miller

PS Get the full history of great NFL games in my book!

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