Trick plays are the best kinds of sports plays

Published 8:00 am Thursday, March 1, 2018

It’s been a month since the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl with the aid of one of the most memorable trick plays in NFL history — a tight end reverse pass to the quarterback. They don’t get crazier than that, especially on the big stage.

Thinking about it got me pondering some of the best and worst trick plays in sports. Football seems to have the most, which is to be expected since the sport lends itself to scheming up ways to fool opponents.

Other sports have their share, though, and here’s a few of what I think are the best:

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• Flea flickers (football): The running back takes a handoff, sucks in the defense, then pitches back to the quarterback who throws the ball. These get bonus points for being fairly common and almost always leading to a deep pass. That split-second when you realize it’s a trick play, there is likely to be a receiver open way downfield, and it’s about to be a touchdown is a great mix of anticipation and dread, depending on which side you’re on.

• Hidden ball trick (baseball): Fake a throw back to the pitcher and hope to catch the runner leading off the base, where he is then tagged out. There are rules that everyone has to follow, such as the pitcher can’t be on the mound at all, that make it hard to pull off. This is great when it works, but that only happens once every few years.

• Half-court shot (basketball): Not a trick play, per se, but still one that’s rare and exciting. It’ll always be a buzzer-beater, you never expect it to go in, and even if it hits the rim it elicits a reaction from the crowd. That’s good stuff.

Those are the best. Here are a couple of the worst:

• The double reverse (football): A slow-developing play that is almost always doomed to failure. It’s also never called correctly by announcers. To be a double reverse, the action has to reverse twice. When a receiver takes a handoff from a running back, that’s only a reverse. Another player has to get the handoff from the receiver for it to be a double reverse.

• First-to-third pickoff move (baseball): The pitcher fakes a pickoff throw to either first or third base in the hopes of getting the other runner leaving the bag.
Has this thing ever worked past the Little League level? It’s just a colossal waste of everyone’s time, and those who attempt it should be forced to watch an hour’s worth of failed first-to-third moves.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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