alligator arms (al'-uh-gat'-uhr armz) noun. Describes those situations in which a wide receiver extends his arms timidly -- far less than full length -- because he sees an approaching defensive player or senses that he is about to be hit. Presumably, the player hopes that the halfhearted "catch attempt" will fool his coaches and teammates into believing he genuinely went after the ball. However, alligator arms fool no one and usually lead to extreme (and deserved) mockery.
Usage example:Todd Pinkston's career was defined by his infamous alligator arms.
Word trivia: Philadelphia Eagles fans probably haven't yet forgotten Todd Pinkston, who spent five moderately successful seasons with the team (2000-2004), catching 184 passes for 2,816 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was known for his ability to make big plays, but he was even more well known for aversion to contact. Any contact. To the point where I started to wonder whether he spent family holidays in a plastic bubble or else locked away in a panic room. This phobia for the touchy-feely led ESPN's Michael Irvin to dub him "Todd Stinkston," and it probably says something about Pinkston that the nickname stuck.
The absolute nadir of Pinkston's career occurred on December 12, 2004 in a MNF game against the Washington Redskins. Despite the fact that he had three catches for a team-high 99 yards, Pinkston was blasted for giving up on a catchable pass. And I mean "giving up" in a way that would make the French military blush in their bloomers. Pinkston claimed he lost the ball in the lights, but nobody -- not even Mama Pinkston -- believed him. And rightly so. Let's watch:
In case you're at work and have to keep the volume down, here's a full transcript of the play-by-play. Unfortunately, the written word cannot due justice to the broadcasters' outrage.
Mike Patrick: "Play action by McNabb, plenty of time, throwing down the middle, and Pinkston..."
Group: "Ohhhhh, unbelievable, uhhhhhh!"
Mike Patrick: "I don't know what happened on that play, Pinkston turned his shoulder away from it and didn't go after the ball!"
Joe Theismann: "You've heard of alligator arms; this is alligator body. Todd Pinkston has got a touchdown. Watch this! He now sees the safety coming from the left, that ball's in the air, he just, he does not want to get hit..."
Mike Patrick: "Holy cow."
Joe Theismann: "He, Ryan Clark, he sees Ryan Clark. This is a great way to lose your job as a receiver in the National Football League."
Mike Patrick: "That's unbelievable."
Joe Theismann -- who once said "Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein." -- is a complete douchebag, but I loved how he accused Pinkston of having an "alligator body." I only wish it was true, because then he could have used his large, muscular tail to batter Theismann to death. But I guess if this had happened to me, I'd be a cynical bastard too. Wait. I'm already a cynical bastard. Never mind, then.
Anyway, Pinkston's exploits made him the object of scorn nationwide, leading to this Pass To Pinky video game (in which the player throws passes to Pinkston, who either ducks or drops them) and this satrical article titled Todd Pinkston breaking barriers as NFL's first woman. Oh, and if you do a Google search for "Todd Pinkston" and "Alligator Arms"...well, let's just say you get a few results.
Update! Thanks to DDC for reminding me that, during Super Bowl XXXIX, Pinkston left the biggest game of his life during the third quarter due to...leg cramps. Or, as Theismann would probably say, "alligator legs."