By Kevin Wacker
April 5, 2009
ASL and Football
When the sport football is brought up and talked about it becomes very clear
that it is a well rounded and in a way complex game. From play to play and
whistle to whistle the game takes on its own path as the game is played. But
its own path falls under a relatively similar guideline to what it was when
it first originated. Yes, the gear has changed the speed of play and other
aspects as well.
With all the changes there are also a lot similarities, but one part of the
game that has been the same sense the 1890s that everyone knows but doesn’t
realize it is the huddle. Before the huddle was created teams would talk
back and forth and in the deaf schools sign to each other and this quickly
became a problem that had to be dealt with, and one man would come up with a
solution to this. The original huddle in the 1890s is relatively the same as
it is today, a circular formation made by players in which the captain,
either linebacker or quarterback calls the next play or formation.
But there is one thing different in the huddle of 1892, which is unlike the
deaf quarterback at Gallaudet University, most players, if not all of them
are non deaf or hearing. In 1892 a man named Paul Hubbard who attended
Gallaudet University for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and was the
quarterback of the football team, created what we refer to as the huddle.
Doing this simply because he did not want the opposing teams, who were also
schools of deaf, to see what the play was going to be. Hubbard ordered his
team to line up in a circular formation known as a huddle so he could
receive and relay information to his fellow teammates easily without any
worries. Sense then, just like the rest of the game itself, it has taken
turns and now is seen in many different styles.
The circular formation created in the fall of 1892 is still one of the most
widely used styles and most effective. I bet that when the idea of the
huddle came to Paul Hubbard he did not intend it to become his football
legacy. Nor the fact that it would help the game and teams that used it in
other ways such as to insulate the noise from the crowd so team conversation
could be heard. As the game of football became more concrete the growth and
use of the huddle became a needed asset to the game. The huddle was then
adopted by the American football league to help better the game play at the
Apart from Paul Hubbard deaf people have made statements in football. In the
National Football League alone there have been only two deaf players, but in
colleges it has been known that there have been more but never make it to
the professional level. The last known deaf college football player was
Martel Van Zant in 2008.
Cited Sources For Information
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