Patent application title: FOOTBALL COUNTING DEVICE
Robert Michael Glover (San Antonio, TX, US)
Michael Eamonn Yockey (San Antonio, TX, US)
IPC8 Class: AA63B4300FI
Class name: Games using tangible projectile projectile, per se; part thereof or accessory therefor with light-emitting, electrical, magnetic, or rotatable inertial means or having boundary-detector activating means
Publication date: 2012-06-21
Patent application number: 20120157246
The present invention is a football counting device that utilizes a
microcomputer so that a proper count can be given for backyard or sandlot
football games as to when the defense can rush the passer. A push-button
switch will start the sequence and the microcomputer (1) controls an
audio sound that counts "1 Mississippi", "2 Mississippi" and (2) gives a
visual display as to when the quarterback can be rushed. The length of
time delay and the voice utilized can be selected by the players. The
sequence repeats for each new down.
1. A football counting device for determining when defensive players may
rush a quarterback in an informal football game among players, said
football counting device comprising: a base; a flexible cover covering
said base and being secured thereon by a flexible outer rim; a control
circuit between said base and said flexible cover; a power supply; an
ON/OFF switch for connecting said power supply to said control circuit;
said control circuit including a push-button switch to program and/or
operate a microcomputer to give an audible count for a desired length of
time before said defensive players may rush said quarterback, said push
button switch being operated by pushing down on said flexible cover.
2. The football counting device for use in an informal football game as recited in claim 1 wherein said control circuit has an audio processor connected between said microcomputer and at least one speaker to give said audible count.
3. The football counting device for use in an informal football game as recited in claim 2 further including a display mounted in said flexible cover for visually indicating when said defensive players may rush said quarterback, said flexible cover being football-like.
4. The football counting device for use in an informal football game as recited in claim 3 wherein said microcomputer is programmed by one of said players by pressing said push-button switch in a first sequence to set said desired length of time.
5. The football counting device for use in an informal football game as recited in claim 4 wherein said microcomputer is also programmed by one of said players by pressing said push-button switch in a second sequence to give delay time before resetting.
6. The football counting device for use in an informal football game as recited in claim 5 wherein said microcomputer is further programmed by one of said players by pressing said push-button switch in a third sequence to allow recording of said audible count in said microcomputer.
7. The football counting device for use in an informal football game as recited in claim 6 wherein said recording includes a microphone connected to said microcomputer for said recording.
8. The football counting device for use in an informal football game as recited in claim 3 wherein said display is an alpha-numeric display.
9. The football counting device for use in an informal football game as recited in claim 8 wherein said alpha-numeric display is formed from light-emitting diodes and has a backlight.
10. The football counting device for use in an informal football game as recited in claim 9 wherein said backlight is red during said designed length of time and thereafter green until reset.
11. The football counting device for use in an informal football game as recited in claim 6 wherein said display indicates said first, second and/or third sequence during said programming.
12. The football counting device for use in an informal football game as recited in claim 6 wherein said recording includes a "RUSH" command after said audible count.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 1. Technical Field
 This invention relates to a counting device and, more particularly, an audio counter to determine when the defense can rush the passer during a pick-up game of football.
 2. Description of the Prior Art
 One of the favorite sports in the United States is football. Throughout the season, millions of Americans either go to football games are watch the football games on television. Millions of younger people, and some not so young, engage in pick-up games of football. These pick-up games of football may be played in vacant lots, open spaces or in the backyards of the participants.
 Normally in these pick-up games, the participants do not have pads and helmets or other protective gear to keep from getting hurt. As a result, these pick-up games are normally "touch" or "flag" football and do not involve tackling the runner with the ball. In probably its most common form, backyard football prohibits the quarterback from running with the ball. The game becomes entirely a passing game. In those cases, the number of players, which is usually less than the eleven per side as in a normal football game, are equally divided in number and/or skill level. In its most common form as played by millions of youth in America, the two teams line up and when the football is snapped, the defensive line has to wait for a predetermined amount of time before they can rush the quarterback. This gives the receivers a chance to run their routes before the quarterback has to throw the ball. A defensive line normally counts "1 Mississippi", "2 Mississippi", "3 Mississippi", etc. Each "Mississippi" is normally one second. The typical period of time prior to rushing the quarterback is five seconds, but it could be expanded or reduced depending upon the desire of the players.
 In this type of backyard football, disputes frequently erupt as to whether the defensive line rushed the quarterback too soon. Not everyone counts at the same speed. Hence if a slow counter provides the count the pass rush will be longer than if a fast counter provides the count. This results in frequent disputes between the two teams as to whether the pass-rush was too early.
 There are many variations of this type of backyard football, including who is ineligible as a receiver or can the offense run the football. Typically, there is no "punting" of the football so the offense has four downs to either score or make a first down. First downs may even be eliminated depending upon the length of the field.
 Applicant remembers when he was growing up and he would play backyard or sandlot football. There were always arguments about the pass rush with the offense saying "you rushed too soon" and the defense vehemently denying the allegations. As applicant has gotten older and watched his children play the same football game decades later, the same arguments still persist. The present invention is designed to reduce or eliminate those arguments.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 It is an object of the present invention to provide a football counting device.
 It is another object of the present invention to provide a counting device to be used in pick-up or backyard football games to determine when the passer can be rushed by the defensive line.
 It is another object of the present invention to provide a timing device that gives audible sounds to let the players know when the quarterback can be rushed in a game of backyard football.
 The timing device has a generally flat football-shaped device with a flexible football-shaped cover there over. Under the football-shaped cover is a control circuit that includes a microcomputer powered by batteries or other suitable power source. By pressing a push-button switch, a timer is started and audible counts are given until the defensive line is told it can rush the passer. A visual signal can also be given as well as the audible signal.
 The microcomputer may be preprogrammed with an audible voice or may have the option so the players can record their own audible voice. The timing sequence can then be set so that the players can rush after two seconds, three seconds, four seconds, five seconds, etc., as is determined by the participants in the football game.
 Because the football counting device has its own internal microcomputer, commands given to the microcomputer can be done with individual switches or by a timing sequence of the single push-button switch. All that is necessary is there be an ON/OFF switch in combination with the push-button switch to start the count.
 In the software program for the microcomputer, a player would select the desired pre-recorded voice sequence by pushing the push-button switch and holding it down until the numeric display identifies the desired voice selection. Next, the user selects the desired count while rapidly pushing the push-button switch until the numeric display indicates the desired value which can be anywhere from 1 to 7, representing 1 to 7 seconds.
 Then, the player places the football counting device at the line of scrimmage. By pressing down on the top of the football-shaped cover of the football counting device, the push-button switch is activated which begins the preselected count. Simultaneously, the seconds are indicated in the numeric display and a red light turns ON until the count has been completed. When the preselected count sequence has been completed, (1) the audio sound changes to "RUSH" and (2) the red light turns to green.
 After a pause for a few seconds, the football counting device resets and is ready for the next sequence.
 If the football counting device has an optional custom voice recorder, the user gives appropriate commands through the push-button switch to get to the custom voice recording. An audio sound of "Say 1 Mississippi" will be given. At that time, the individual says "1 Mississippi" into the microphone which is recorded in the microcomputer. This is repeated until the individual has counted up to "7 Mississippi". The recording will be completed with the audio sound of "RUSH". Thereafter, the sequence is ended. The recordings by the individual are then used in the microprocessor to the provide the count prior to rushing the passer.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of the football counting device with a flexible football-like cover being exploded from a base.
 FIGS. 2a-2e are left-end front side, right-end, top and bottom views, respectively of the football counting device.
 FIG. 3 is a pictorial block diagram of major internal components of the football counting device.
 FIG. 4 is a block diagram of the controls for the football counting device.
 FIG. 5 is a logic flow diagram of software in a microcomputer of the football counting device.
 FIG. 6 is an optional software routine for the microcomputer in a football counting device to provide a custom voice recording.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
 Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2 in combination, the football counting device is generally referred to with reference numeral 10. The football counting device 10 has a flexible cover 12 that interlocks over base 14 with a flexible outer rim 16. The base 14 has an outer retaining ring 18 (see FIG. 1) to receive the flexible outer rim 16 of the flexible cover 12 there over. The flexible cover 12 is made from a flexible, resilient material such as a polyurethane foam, also sometimes called foam rubber. The flexible cover 12 may be injection-molded with its external appearance and design resembling a football, complete with imitation football laces 20, strips 21, and other similar football imitating decor.
 In one side of the flexible cover 12 is mounted an alpha-numeric display 22 that is constructed from low power light-emitting diodes. In the bottom of the base 14 is ON/OFF switch 24 that will turn ON or OFF the power sent to the control circuit 26 mounted on base 14 as pictorially shown in FIG. 1.
 Referring now to FIG. 3, the control circuit 26 will be very broadly explained. A microcomputer is mounted inside of computer housing 28. Connected to the microcomputer inside of housing 28 is the ON/OFF switch 24 and a power supply such as batteries 30. Also connected to the microcomputer and computer housing 28 is the alpha-numeric display 22 and speakers 32 and 34. Located above the computer housing 28 and connected to the microcomputer is a push-button switch 36.
 Generally, when using the football counting device 10, the ON/OFF switch 24 is turned to the ON position and the football counting device 10 is placed at the line of scrimmage adjacent to where the football is located prior to being snapped at the start of another play. By pressing the flexible cover 12, the push-button switch 36 is depressed, which through the microcomputer in the computer housing 28 will start the alpha-numeric display 22 so that it begins to count. Simultaneously, the speakers 32 and 34 will give an audible indication of "1 Mississippi", "2 Mississippi", "3 Mississippi", up through the desired count, possibly as high as "7 Mississippi". As the count is occurring, the alpha-numeric display 22 counts up and the back-lit portion indicates red. Once the desired count has been reached, the alpha-numeric display 22 and the back-lit portion will change to green and the count will stop. Simultaneously, the speakers 32 and 34 will give the oral command of "RUSH". At that time, the defense can rush the quarterback. After a short time, the football counting device and the microcomputer will reset for the next play.
 Referring now to FIG. 4, the operation of the microcomputer 38 as it operates the control circuit 26 (see FIG. 3) is explained in more detail. The ON/OFF switch 24 will turn ON or OFF the microcomputer 38 by connecting it to the batteries 30 (see FIG. 3). Once the microcomputer 38 has been turned ON, push-button switch 36 may be pushed to start the sequence. Alpha-numeric display 22 will start the count with a red backlight 40. Simultaneously, the audio processor 42 is sending the count of "1 Mississippi", "2 Mississippi", "3 Mississippi", etc., to the speakers 32 and 34. Once the count is reached, the alpha-numeric display 22 will hold that count, the red backlight 40 will go OFF and the green backlight 44 will come ON. Simultaneously, the microcomputer 38 will send a signal to the audio processor 42 to give the command "RUSH" to speakers 32 and 34.
 The microcomputer 38, as explained in connection with FIG. 4, has the capability of doing additional things for the football counting device 10. Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5 in combination, FIG. 5 shows a program sequence for the microcomputer 38. The push-button switch 36 may be pushed in a sequential order to allow the user to select a desired prerecorded voice sequence 46. For example, the push-button switch 36 can be held down for a long time duration of several seconds and thereafter be momentarily pushed to move through a set of desired sequences. At one of the desired sequences, the user would select the desired prerecorded voice sequence as illustrated by block 46. The user selecting the desired prerecorded voice sequence 46 is illustrated in both FIG. 5 and FIG. 4. If desired, the momentary push-button switch 36 could be used to select the prerecorded voice versus going through the computer sequence as just described.
 Next, the user will select the 1 through 7 "Mississippi" ascending set points 48 in the same manner the prerecorded voice sequence was selected. In other words, the push-button switch 36 is held down for a long period of time. Thereafter, by a momentarily pushing the push-button switch 36, the microcomputer 38 is stepped through until the desired "Mississippi" count is reached. Again, the selecting of the "Mississippi" set point can be by a manual switch as pictorially illustrated in connection with FIG. 4 or by a computer sequence as illustration in connection with FIG. 5.
 After the prerecorded voice is selected and the count is set, the user places the football counting device 10 at the line of scrimmage as represented by block 50 in FIG. 5. Thereafter, the user begins the sequence by pushing push-button switch 36 indicated by block 52. The microcomputer 58 is programmed to (1) begin the audio sequence of counting up 54, (2) incrementally increase the alpha-numeric display 56 and (3) turn ON the red backlight 58. While the beginning of the audio sequence of counting up is representing in the logic diagram of FIG. 5 with the numeral 54, it occurs through the audio processor 42 and speakers 32 and 34 as shown in FIG. 4. Likewise, the incrementally increasing of the alpha-numeric display is indicated by logic block 56 in FIG. 5, but occurs in the alpha-numeric display 22 as shown in FIG. 4. Similarly, the turning ON of the red backlight is represented in FIG. 5 by logic block 58. It occurs by turning ON the red backlight 40 of the alpha-numeric display 22 as shown in FIG. 4.
 As the microcomputer 38 counts up, it increments the counter until it reaches the user set point 60 as previously described in logic step 48. When the counter has been incremented until it reaches the user set point 60, a signal indicates that it has "reached end of sequence count up" 62, which turns ON the green backlight 64 and announces "RUSH" 66. Simultaneously, with turning ON of the green backlight 64, the red backlight will be turned OFF. The announcing of RUSH 66 as shown in FIG. 5 occurs through the audio processor 42 and speakers 32 and 34 in FIG. 4. At that time, the defense is rushing the quarterback as the quarterback attempts to throw the football.
 Thereafter, the microcomputer 38 is programmed to pause for a certain number of seconds 68 then resets for the next down 70. The amount of pause that occurs in step 68 can be programmed in the microcomputer 38 in the same manner as the user selects prerecorded voice sequence 46 or user selects 1 through 7 "Mississippi" 48. For example, the user will hold down the push-button switch 36 for a predetermined length of time and thereafter sequence through steps until getting to the function that sets the length of pause as explained in connection with step 68 and then either extend or shorten the length of the pause.
 Also, the microcomputer 38 can either have a prerecorded voice message of "1 Mississippi", "2 Mississippi", "3 Mississippi", etc., and "RUSH" or as an option the user can record his or her voice. Again, as shown in FIGS. 6 and 4 in combination, the push-button switch 36 may be held down for a predetermined length of time and thereafter stepped through until the user gets custom voice record. Then the user presses custom voice record button 72, which is represented in the function sequence in FIG. 6, but requires pushing record voice 74 and using microphone 76 as shown in FIG. 4. While the record voice 74 and the microphone 76 are not illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, they could also be included in the base 14. Thereafter, in the program set in the microcomputer 38, it will control the audio processor 42 and speakers 32 and 34 so that it speaks "say 1 Mississippi" as indicated in logic step 78. Then, the user speaks the phrase "1 Mississippi" 80. The sequence will repeat until it reaches "7 Mississippi" 82. After it reaches "7 Mississippi", an end 84 will be indicated.
 While not illustrated in a logic flow diagram, the same can be used for recording "RUSH" in the microcomputer 38.
 It should be realized that the setting of the individual functions in the microcomputer 38 may be done with sequential steps and timing as is commonly done with a clock to set date, time, alarm, or other functions. On the other hand, the various functions could be set in by manual switches.
Patent applications in class With light-emitting, electrical, magnetic, or rotatable inertial means or having boundary-detector activating means
Patent applications in all subclasses With light-emitting, electrical, magnetic, or rotatable inertial means or having boundary-detector activating means