Ask McFartnuggets: “Why Do Football Teams Have a Secondary But No Primary?”

Dear McFartnuggets: 
How come you always hear people call people the cornerbacks and safeties of a football team the “secondary”? Does that mean that the defensive linemen and linebackers are the “primary”? Why don’t people ever call it that? Are they afraid of labeling the linemen and linebackers as more important than the secondary? That’s already implied in calling them the secondary to begin with. Why isn’t the term “primary” used in football? -- Noelle from Tempe, Arizona

Dear Noelle:
Well, it’s football so you can’t expect any of the terminology to actually make sense. You have to remember that most of these terms were invented back when they played with little to no head padding. You can’t read too much into this kind of stuff.

The defensive line and linebackers are the first line of defense, but they're never explicitly called that.

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