A “Monday morning quarterback” is someone who can reflect on the Sunday National Football League games and offer the best analysis—in hindsight. College football games are usually played on a Saturday and “Sunday morning quarterback” is the earlier expression. “An appropriate occasion for a convention of Sunday morning quarterbacks, second guessing alumni and luncheon club coaches” was cited in November 1928.
“Nitt Witt, Famous Monday Morning Quarterback” was cited in print in November 1930. “Monday morning quarterback” was further popularized by Harvard University quarterback Barry Wood (1910-1971) in December 1931.
[This entry was assisted by research from Ben Zimmer.]
(Oxford English Dictionary)
Monday-morning quarterback n. chiefly N. Amer. (orig. U.S.) a person (esp. a journalist) who engages in ‘post-mortem’ analysis of a game; a person who assumes wisdom after the event; cf. quarterback n. 2b.
1931 N.Y. Times 5 Dec. 22/8 Barry Wood, Harvard’s all-America quarterback, mounted the ramparts in the role of a defender today… The answer to overemphasis was to be found not on the field, but in the stands, where sit what Wood called ‘the Monday morning quarterbacks’.
6 November 1928, Amarillo (TX) Daily News, “Ohio State and Iowa in Classic” by Dixon Stewart (United Press Staff Correspondent), pg. 9, col. 1:
CHICAGO, Nov. 5.—An appropriate occasion for a convention of Sunday morning quarterbacks, second guessing alumni and luncheon club coaches, will be provided next Saturday when Iowa and Ohio meet at Columbus in a game which is expected to decide the 1928 Big Ten football championship.
5 February 1929, The World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “The Sportolog,” pg. 14, col. 6:
A CONVINCING manifestation of the increasing interest in college basket ball is to be noted in the corps of assistant coaches who after every contest elaborately outline the way it should have been played. These gentlemen are not members of the pedagogical staffs at the various institutions that suffer their services. They seldom, if ever, offer their strategy before the game is played. They are, in sooth, close relatives of the Sunday morning quarterbacks of football.
31 October 1929, Evening World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “The Sportlog,” pg. 30, col. 1:
Sunday morning quarterbacks asked rather querulously why Dana Xenophon Bible shooed in a pastel of reserves during the fatal second quarter of the Pitt game.
26 April 1930, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. 9, col. 4:
“Huh!” snorted one of the Sunday-morning quarterbacks. “Wonder what the great managerial idea was to leave Baccht in until he was hammered for six runs in the sixth inning, and then with one on and two out lift him for a relief hurler?”
7 September 1930, Greensboro (NC) Daily News, “Breaks of the Game” by W. N. Cox, pg. D3, col. 2:
Several Sunday morning quarterbacks told me that the reason the Tar Heels lost to the Bulldogs could be found in the notices given the defeated team by the Atlanta newspapers when it won the preceeding Saturday over Georgia Tech.
16 October 1930, Syracuse (NY) Herald Journal, “Joan of Arkansas”, by Jerry Brondfield (NEA Service), pg. 17, col. 1:
As they moved slowly, foot by foot, down the long ramp they listened to the Sunday morning quarterbacks who were already replaying the game.
1 November 1930, Macon (GA) Telegraph, pg. 8, col. 4:
Witt’s Grid Irony
Analytical Prognostications of the Big Games of Saturday by Nitt Witt, Famous Monday Morning Quarterback and Unanimous Choice For All-American Pullman Team of 1919
By NITT WITT
(The Pullman “Pep Man")
24 January 1931, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. 8, col. 2:
However, that comes under the head of second guessing, just like Sunday morning quarterbacking.
30 October 1931, Arcadia (CA) Tribune, pg.5, col. 4:
But he found a Roman army there before him, with another close on his trail. He was licked, and he knew it. He didn’t spend any time in vain regrets. Spartacus was never a Sunday morning quarterback.
10 November 1931, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. II12 col. 2:
Some of the Saturday night and Sunday morning quarterbacks have been finding fault with Southern California strategy in kicking on third down when comparatively close to the Stanford goal line.
17 November 1931, Sheboygan (WI) Press, pg.4?, col. 3:
THERE ARE A LOT OF THEM
Are you one of those Saturday night and Sunday morning quarterbacks who knows what they “should have” done to win the game?
5 December 1931, New York (NY) Times, pg. 22:
CHIDED BY WOOD.
May Be Found in "Monday
Barry Wood, Harvard’s all-America quarterback, mounted the ramparts in the role of a defender today.
The answer to overemphasis was to be found not on the field, but in the stands, where sit what Wood called “the Monday morning quarterbacks.”
OCLC WorldCat record
Monday morning quarterback
Author: David S Neft
Publisher: New York : Grosset & Dunlap, ©1976.
Series: Tempo books
Edition/Format: Book : English