- Dallas Cowboys offensive line coach Paul Alexander wrote in his 2011 book that he paid attention to how players try to get ketchup out of a bottle.
- Alexander wrote that if they couldn’t hit the “57” on a Heinz ketchup bottle – apparently the area to tap to get the ketchup out – he would know they couldn’t play for him.
- Alexander wrote that linemen must be smart, coordinated problem-solvers who can work together, not players who rely on brute force.
Ketchup factors into the Dallas Cowboys’ evaluation of offensive linemen.
Paul Alexander, who was hired as the team’s offensive line coach in January, wrote in his 2011 book, “Perform: A Journey for Athletes, Musicians, Coaches and Teachers,” that he liked to see how football players got ketchup out of a bottle.
In the passage, excerpted by SB Nation’s Bobby Belt, Alexander said that by tapping the “57” on a Heinz ketchup bottle, the ketchup flows out smoothly. Alexander said he would see if a player smacked the bottom of the bottle instead.
Alexander wrote: “When I see a large football player turn a bottle of ketchup upside down and pound at its heel with tremendous force yet with limited success, I immediately make the mental note: He must either play defensive line, or if he plays offensive line, he can’t play for me.”
Alexander explained that because defenses can throw so many looks at offensive lines, he wants his linemen to be smart, coordinated, and cohesive – he wants them to be problem-solvers.
“Offensive linemen need to be the smartest, most cohesive group on the football field because they are responsible for the combinations of problems that eleven coordinated defenders can cause,” he wrote. “In football, there are eleven defenders and eight gaps that they can charge. Assuming each man can choose one gap, there are 437,514 possible defensive alignments that the offensive line must deal with.
“Football strategy can be complicated much like an advanced level math problem. Offensive linemen and their coaches seek to solve complex problems with simple solutions.”
The debate is, of course, about linemen who try only to overpower opponents. That won’t work for Alexander.
Hopefully, NFL prospects will learn about the 57 on Heinz bottles before they meet the Cowboys.
Here’s the full excerpt:
Cowboys OL coach Paul Alexander wrote in his book "Perform" about how he can rule out certain offensive lineman playing for him by the way they dispense ketchup from a bottle. pic.twitter.com/zXDGT057jm
— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) May 17, 2018