Definition of Flea Flicker

What does the term "flea flicker" mean in the world of football? What is meant by a flea flicker?

The "flea flicker" is a rarely run "trick play" in football that can best be classified as high risk, high return.

The meaning of the term Flea Flicker is explained in this dictionary entry.  The sport is American Football.The flea flicker is typically run like this:

The quarterback hands the ball off to a running back or full back, who runs towards the line of scrimmage.

Before crossing the line of scrimmage, the ball carrier stops and tosses the ball back to the quarterback, who is careful to remain behind the line of scrimmage. By doing this, they maintain their eligibility to pass downfield.

The quarterback then usually attempts a long pass to a wide receiver.

The defenders usually give up their assignments and focus on the runner, which usually results in the wide receivers downfield being wide open.

Some of the more famous "flea flickers" to ever be completed include:

-St. Louis Rams (Kurt Warner to JJ Arrington to Larry Fitzgerald) in the 2009 NFC Championship
-New England Patriots (Tom Brady to Dion Lewis to Chris Hogan) in the 2017 AFC Championship
-New York Giants (Phil Simms to Phil McConkey) in Super Bowl XXI


Bob Zuppke, coach of Illinois, is credited with inventing the flea flicker all the way back in 1925.

In a game against Penn, Earl Britton, Red Grange and Chuck Kassell combined on a flea flicker that resulted in a 20-yard touchdown pass.

Imagine the surprise of the Penn defence as they attempted to defend a play that had NEVER been run before!


Here is an example of a flea flicker: