You might assume the idioms ‘armchair quarterback’ and ‘Monday morning quarterback’ apply solely to sports. You’d be incorrect.
The phrases armchair quarterback and Monday morning quarterback are idioms that essentially mean the same thing. An idiom is a phrase whose meaning may not be clear when you look at the words at face value.
For both of these phrases, that definition may well apply.
Both originated in the United States, where football means a different sport than most people outside the U.S. know. But the two idioms are not restricted to the world of sports.
An armchair quarterback is, according to Wiktionary, “a person who watches sports on television, typically American football, who often verbally suggests plays or critiques the players and coaches.” If you’ve ever tried to watch a football game with an armchair quarterback, you know it. It’s the guy — or gal — who’s yelling at the screen as if the coach or players can hear them. They have the plays in mind that will pull off the win. If their team loses, they believe, of course, it’s because the team didn’t listen to their great advice.
(If the team wins without taking their advice, well, you know, they don’t talk about that.)
A Monday morning quarterback is essentially the same thing. Most major football games have traditionally been played on Sundays, although that’s not always the case these days. The difference implies the criticism comes the day after Sunday’s big game, typically at a workplace. That’s where a group of co-workers who are sports fanatics might gather to criticize the action on the gridiron.
But don’t assume they only relate to sports.
The idioms pop up when football has no relevance to the context of their use.
It certainly began with football. Consider a 2016 opinion piece the Trussville Tribute carried called, “Everybody’s a Theologian:”
We call this epidemic, “Armchair Quarterback:” one who (like me) who doesn’t play the game, has no expertise in the game, and sits in a lazy-boy eating Doritos while telling others how to play the game.
But an armchair or Monday morning quarterback can still focus their opinion on any topic. Just as an armchair quarterback doesn’t need to be a football player — or even have ever picked one up — the non-sports-related armchair quarterback doesn’t need particular expertise in any other area of interest.
Focus Daily News recently ran a story about a barbecue restaurant owner in Midlothian, Texas. The owner decided to drive to Uvalde to serve food to first responders and law enforcement officers who responded to the deadly school shooting.
Check out this quote from the man:
“Everyone has been an armchair quarterback about what happened that day, but until I was there seeing it, I didn’t know.”
You surely have heard the phrase, “Hindsight is 20/20.” It means that anyone can look at a problem and the reaction to it after the crisis is over and critique what was and was not done. That’s easy.
Those quarterbacks assume the answer they so clearly see after the fact would have been the same answer they would have seen before the fact. If they ran things, they would make the right call that others failed to make.
It must be nice to be that confident with no experience.