The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

“No Way Should the Word ‘Nazi’ be in the Playbook”

Nicholson rejects former Brooklyn coach’s claim that “Nazi” is a common football term
Alyson Garfield
Head Coach Alex Nicholson, pictured Aug. 18 during the Raiders’ defeat of Willoughby South High School, said he has never heard the word “Nazi” used to indicate plays. Shaker football players choose the terms they will use, and coaches approve them, he said.

Shaker Head Football Coach Alex Nicholson says there is no place for words such as Nazi on the field. 

The Brooklyn High School head football coach resigned after admitting that his team used the term “Nazi” as a play call during a Sept. 22 game. Tim McFarland’s attorney said the team used the term as a way to warn the quarterback of an oncoming blitz, when additional defenders try to take down the quarterback before he can complete a pass.

The story reached national outlets such as The New York Times, ESPN and USA Today. “Coach McFarland and his team repeatedly used the word ‘Nazi’ as a play-call reference during a game on Friday night,” according to a Sept. 26  New York Times article. 

McFarland’s attorney, Peter Pattakos, told that schools all around Ohio use the term on the field, before adding that it is not an antisemitic slur in that situation.  

Nicholson said, “It wasn’t a thing where I went to school, and you should never use that as an excuse.”

Shaker football has a term for alerting the quarterback. “We use ‘smoke,’ or ‘alert.’ We would never say something like that,” said junior offensive lineman Andy Benincasa. “I don’t know why they would use that.”  

Beachwood quarterback, junior Jacob Thomas, was the starter during the Brooklyn game. “I heard it once or twice. At first I didn’t realize they were saying it, but as some of my teammates mentioned it, I realized they were using the term,” Thomas said in a text message.

“That was the first time I’ve heard comments like this during the game,” Thomas said. “But obviously, we hear about things like this in the news. We are a school filled with many Jewish people, some of which are on the football team.” 

Nicholson said that each team has its own way of identifying a blitz. “The coaches ask the kids what they would want to call certain plays, and then collectively approve the words or signals,” said Nicholson. “We have to be very conscious of what we say. In no way should the word ‘Nazi’ be in the playbook.” 

Sportswriting reporters Gabe Moulthrop and Max Resnick contributed reporting. 

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