what is a bootleg in football

What Is A Bootleg In Football?

Football has different types of play that make it interesting and fun to watch. One of them is a bootleg. Perhaps you’ve heard about it and would want to know more about this type of play.

So, what’s a bootleg? It’s a play that starts with a pass to a receiver, and then the quarterback keeps the ball instead of handing it off. This can be advantageous to the offense—and it makes sense why they’d want to use it.

One of the most famous bootlegs happened in the Super Bowl XLIX. This was when Tom Brady ran for an 88-yard touchdown on third down and 20 yards in front of Malcolm Butler. 

Well, the bootleg play comes in handy when you want to fool defenses. When you look at it in a vacuum, it seems like an ordinary running play. But if you’re not paying attention, it can look like an ordinary running play and suddenly turn into something else entirely.

Let’s explore what bootleg play is and how offenses can use it to edge opponents.

What is a Bootleg Play?

Bootleg play is a type of play that allows the quarterback to run the ball and get out of bounds before the defense can make a tackle on them. It’s a technique where the quarterback will fake a handoff to a running back, then scramble around and find an open receiver. This tactic is often used by defensive teams forced to go on the offensive.

It’s most commonly used in college football, but it’s also used in high school and even some professional games.

When you see an offensive team bootleg, they’ll often line up in a spread formation with one or two receivers on each side. The quarterback will then hand off the ball, which causes him to be “bootlegged” at least once before he eventually runs back into his end zone.

What is a Naked Bootleg Play?

A “naked bootleg play” is when a player runs directly at the line of scrimmage, bypassing any blocking or other players. The player then attempts to make an open-field tackle independently without help from his teammates. 

football teams playing on the field

This tackle is often done as a last-ditch effort to stop the opposition’s drive and force them to punt or kick off. However, it can also create space for other players to run downfield. 

For example, when one defensive player is covering two others: He may decide that he has more chance at catching up with the ball carrier if he takes off running before everyone else can get back into their blocks.

This tactic has been used in traditional football since the game’s early history. 

Other Aspects of Bootlegs Play 

In football, other aspects of bootleg play include:

  • The ability to disguise your intentions and fool the opposing team.
  • The ability to make a defender think that they’ve got you cornered but suddenly change directions and escape in a different direction.
  • The Blocker will be responsible for blocking the defensive end. The Receiver will be responsible for catching the pass from the quarterback and getting down the field as fast as possible.


The blocker, or the person that lines up across from the defender, is the player who lines up in front of the ball carrier. A blocker does his job by preventing defenders from making tackles on the ball carrier and pushing them out of the way if they’re about to make a tackle.

player blocking a tackle from opposing team

The blocker’s job is to keep the defender from getting to the ball carrier. He can do this by holding him back or using their body mass to push him out of the way. Blockers also have an essential role in blocking passes.


The receiver’s role in football is to catch passes from the quarterback. The receiver can also run with the ball if a defender doesn’t tackle them. He needs to be able to catch the football and run with it while also stopping and waiting for the quarterback to throw the ball.

How Do You Run a Bootleg Play?

Running a Bootleg play in football is like running any other play. You must set up your offense and get your players lined up on the field. Then, when it’s time to go, you need to count down from 10 before you snap the ball.

When playing a Bootleg play, you have two main options: pass or run. 

The quarterback will hand the ball off or throw it back to the running back. The running back then takes off downfield and tries to score by dodging defenders and making them miss tackles.

If you want to run, you’ll need good blocking from your linemen. You may also need wide receivers who can help on the front side of your offense.

FAQs About Bootleg Play

What is a Waggle Pass?

A waggle pass is a pass the quarterback makes while he’s moving sideways. It’s a very effective way to get open, as it increases the speed at which the receiver can catch the ball. 

athlete in green jersey running with the football

What is the Difference Between Bootleg and Waggle?

Bootleg is a movement that starts with a set of different fake runs, while waggle is a particular movement play.

Both of these moves can be used for positive or negative results, depending on how well you execute them. 

Why is It Called Bootleg?

“Bootleg” is a slang term for foul play in football. It’s also used to describe anything unauthorized or smuggled. For instance, some items were smuggled into the tall boots’ legs to hide them.


The bootleg play is an excellent way for any football team to get their quarterback out in space.

A bootleg play is where the quarterback keeps the ball and runs with it. The quarterback can use his arms and legs to make it more difficult for defenders to stop him from getting through the line of scrimmage.

This play makes it especially effective outside the field, where mobile quarterbacks like to run. It’s helpful because they can do damage with both their arms and legs, making it harder for defenders to stop them.

Bootleg plays are especially effective on the outside of the field, opening up huge running holes on the outside of the field.

Read More: What is play action in football? Check this article and find out. Learn about its history, when to use it and how to defend against it.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *