Remembering the Simple Joys of Paper Football

Remembering the Simple Joys of Paper Football

By John Jannuzzi
Illustrations by Tara Jacoby

This weekend, throngs of Americans will sit down in front of the television snack, flanked by bowls of dip, guacamole, and their favorite people in the world to watch “The Big Game.” (You know the one we’re talking about, even if we can't legally say the thing that sounds like Duper Toll.) Even people who don’t like football will take a seat in front of the television. It’s a past time like no other — complete with touchdowns, celebrities, big-budget commercials, and snacks as far as the eye can see. Gather round the glowing pigskin, they say.

But even the most athletically-challenged among us can remember another kind of football. More specifically, a paper one! One that required no lower body strength, one that democratized the hallways of middle schools and study halls across the world. Who among us can forget the simple joy of a perfectly positioned flick of the fingers resulting in a touchdown through a four-finger goal post?

In advance of New England and Philadelphia facing off this weekend, we're suggesting you take a trip down memory lane and indulge your inner child for a bit. And in case you've forgotten just how to create a paper pigskin, here's a helpful guide.

1. Grab yourself a nice piece of paper. Old school three-hole-punch paper is best for those nostalgia vibes, but printer paper works just fine.


2. Fold it in half, longways. 


3. Do that again! Now you should have a pretty skinny column.


4. We’re gonna fold it again, but this time do it top to bottom. Your column should shrink by half its size.


5. Now unfold what you just did and you’ll see the crease in the middle. 

6. Take the bottom half and fold it towards the left, up to that crease. You should have a right angle on the inside of the paper and a 45-degree angle on the outside. 


7. Now, fold that entire bottom part up, you should be left with a right angle on both the inside and the outside.


8. Flip the whole thing over so the piece that was going to the left is now going to the right. Fold that piece over to the right. You should be left with a backward “L.”


9. Flip it one more time. Now, tuck the excess on the right into the triangle at the bottom of the paper. You should now be left with something that looks like half of that original skinny column.


10. Fold the top of the column down, and tuck it into the triangle. You should now have a little square.


11. Fold the square in half on a 45-degree angle, tucking one half into the envelope formed by the triangle.


12. Make an end zone by putting the tips of your thumbs together and pointing your index fingers upwards. (Reverse this for beginners, creating wider goal posts.)


Oh, also, please recycle.