Should Horses Be Allowed in the NFL?

Adam Jacobi wrote an opinion piece at SBNation on why horses should not be allowed to play football.

He says “our equine friends and neighbors need to stay the heck off our gridiron” and that he’d be “very, very upset if a horse was ever recruited to play wide receiver.

[Top image: Imgur]

Now, Jacobi raises some solid arguments and cites insightful Google stats. But I’m going to disagree on principal and state on record that I, for one, will be very upset if a horse isn’t recruited to play wide receiver. Or narrow receiver. Or whatever it is they call the guys in tights.

We’re taking this rebuttal point by point. Because this is important. And because everyone else in my house is watching the Big Game right now on the only working television. I may or may not have anything better to do than pick a fake argument.

Jacobi is first up:

1) Horses can’t catch. They have clippy-cloppy hooves, ones that may or may not have cleats nailed onto them depending on field conditions. All four of those hooves are not only feet (which is to say on the ground) but also completely lacking in prehensile appendages, meaning there’s no way for the horse to grip the football.

“Ah, but you can just put it in the horse’s mouth!” OK, look. Leaving aside the fact that that’s either terrible for the ball or the horse’s teeth, it’s also completely illegal. Mouthguards have been required by NCAA football since 1973, and we’ll be damned if we’ll let the NCAA throw away 40 great years of dental safety in the name of putting a horse in the field of play.

Have you seen horse teeth? THEY’RE HUGE. They’re also super strong. Horses have intertwined enamel and dentin layers, which means their mouth guards are built-in.

Dental superiority aside, if professional hockey has taught us anything, it’s that broken teeth are a right of passage for a professional athlete. Technically, horses would be doing humans a favor what with all the toothless street cred they’d be doling out. You’re welcome, football.

horse catching a frisbee

Frisbee today. Football tomorrow.


Next point, please.

2) Horses can’t understand football. Horses aren’t completely stupid, and their skills at dressage lead me to believe that an end zone celebration involving a horse hot-stepping could be PHENOMENAL, but football is a very complicated sport with rules and regulations governing virtually everything, and I just can’t imagine that a horse would be able to abide by the rules of the line of scrimmage and the snap. False start penalties everywhere, even for just a twitch of the tail. “Set” means “set,” horsie.

First, no one above the age three is allowed to call them “horsies,” Jacobi. It’s in the social contract. (See also: “clippy-cloppy.”) Second, if they’re good enough for the UN. They’re good enough for the NFL.

Moving on…

3) Tackling a horse is problematic at best. Here’s the deal with horsies: they’re roughly 1,000 pounds of well-crafted muscle racing on leg bones that are made of papier-mâché and wishes. So if you tackle high on a horse in full sprint or gallop or whatever people call it, you’re getting stampeded and maybe deaded.

But if you tackle LOW, you’re probably putting that horse down. Not as in tackled. As in it’s going to be hurt really bad in its legs, and everyone’s going to be horrified by what you just did and here’s the shotgun, pal, this one’s on you. You don’t want that horse blood on your hands, or your uniform, or your face.

Okay, this is actually quite insightful, especially the “papier-mâché and wishes” part. Not many non-equestrians know that. Still, the odds here are ever in the horse’s favor.

I watched five minutes of the Superbowl. I think I can say with an equal amount of certainty that the horse is going to come out on top 9.9 times out of a 10 in a head-to-head take down. And at a sprint, well, the likelihood of catching a determined equine escapist is pret-ty slim. Unless you have a pocket full of carrots. And I’m pretty sure food on the field is against the rules anyway. (With the possible exception of Gatrorade.)


4) Horses can’t qualify academically in the NCAA. Horses don’t have people brains and can’t take people tests. They are more interested in eating the SAT test sheet than writing bubbles on it in order to demonstrate their intelligence in a series of examinations. It’s all a foreign concept to them, and there’s only so much work the tutors can do. The NCAA Clearinghouse would never let it fly.

Nobody's asking because we all know the answer already.

Nobody’s asking because we all know the answer already.

You sure about that, Jacobi?

You may continue.

5) Horses doo-doo everywhere all the time and without warning or regard for those around them. You can’t just doo-doo on the field. Most fields don’t even use real grass anymore, Kinnick included, so don’t even give me this “it’s good for the field’ business. It’s just doo-doo. I don’t want that on the field and neither does anyone else. And flagging the horses until they stop isn’t going to do the trick either, because remember: horses don’t know rules.

Too words: Bun Bag. (And “Doo doo”?! Really? Let’s try to keep the language clean. This is a professional site.)

[Insert disapproving head shake]

And your final point?



Is it fake? Or is it a peak into the inevitable future of equine world domination? Time. Will. Tell.

You can read more of Jacobi’s misguided thoughts on equine participation in football at SBNation. (Horsist tendencies aside, it’s nice to see someone asking the hard hitting questions.) But I think I speak for horses everywhere when quote the comment by Buckettochicken: “Lay off the whip, rule-jockey.”

Carley Sparks covers showjumping and related ridiculousness at

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