Stiff and straight: 15 January 2011

Another pet peeve when it comes to “slang creep” (see earlier post): the “straight arm,” when it’s actually “stiff arm.” I’m not sure how this age-old technique employed by ball carriers to resist, shed, repel or demolish a would-be tackler — known as a “stiff arm” — morphed into “straight arm,” but it’s used frequently by commentators, to the detriment of the technique.

Yes, Virginia, there is a difference between “straight” and “stiff.” A straight arm doesn’t connote power or resistance, or anything for that matter, other than straightness. In other words the phrase “straight arm” is pretty limp.  “Stiff arm,” however, is a whole nuther thing. “Stiff” connotes resistance, and unwillingness to bend, the power to protect, etc. Hence the name, “stiff arm.”

Here’s what I’m talking about: check out Earl Campbell demonstrating the highly successful stiff-arm technique as God intended it to be employed. Outta my way, punk.

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