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The Hylian Gridiron Gang: The Ocarina of Time Football Team

by David Lopez

Do you like The Legend of Zelda? Do you like American football? See the two combined in this creative exploration of football in Hyrule!

Force, Hyrule's Football Team in Ocarina of Time (Image Source: David Lopez)


This is a fun blog that attempts to mix two of my biggest passions in life–football and Zelda. To give you background on myself, by day, I manage and oversee the creation of digital content at a local newspaper in Southern California. By night, I save Hyrule.

My first memory is of sitting on my dad's lap as a little boy and watching baseball with him. My love of sports at a young age grew quickly, and before I knew it, I was watching any sport that the four-letter sports network would broadcast. I mean anything (darts at 10 p.m.? I’d watch it). Before I knew it, I was obsessed with all sports, from football to fútbol (my father was born and raised in Mexico City, so “soccer” if that’s a more familiar word for you) and everything in between.

When I was 9 years old, a Nintendo 64 came into our house. I thought Mario was fun, but I’d get bored quickly. However, I couldn’t put the controller down when Ocarina of Time came into our house. The way it tells stories and progresses you through the game left such an impact on me that it was hard for me as a little boy to understand that I enjoyed it as much as watching and playing sports.

The Zelda franchise was the first activity in my life that challenged my love of sports, and I realized I could enjoy sports and playing video games. I was free of the idea that there was only one thing that should define you–you shouldn’t give your life to just that one thing. I don’t know… maybe that’s not a profound realization, but it felt massive as a little kid to understand life is never about just one interest.

With a certain football game in February on the horizon, I pitched the idea to AZP editor Celeste about breaking down what football in the Zelda franchise might look like. Below is an attempt to formulate a football team from my favorite Zelda game. All players and locations take place in the Ocarina of Time world.

I had a lot of fun developing character backstories and why they might play football. Enjoy!



Kingdom of the Goddess Stadium (Image Source: David Lopez)

Kingdom of the Goddess stadium is located on the edge of Lake Hylia. The stadium features a newly constructed dam, which allows Zoras to attend games and cheer for their favorite Hylian football team. The beverage of choice at the stadium is Lon Lon Milk. One of Talon’s greatest joys in life is watching the Force–this land’s football team–play every Sunday. He was so desperate to have his milk in the stadium that he guaranteed enough milk for every supporter to have five bottles a game. The workload on the ranch went through the roof at this time and is a big part of the reason Ingo went mad in the Adult Timeline. It’s also why Malon gives away cows for winning races at the farm; it’s just easier if fans can bring their own milk to the games.


Head Coach – Child Zelda

She’s the natural leader of Hyrule. Zelda has a knack for game planning against her opponents and being able to understand how her play calls affect time and space on the football field. Being such a young head coach isn’t an issue for Zelda. Despite laughter from some guards at her play calls, her royal lineage commands the respect of her team. She’s the Sean McVay of this league, young and innovative.


Offensive Coordinator - Happy Mask Salesman

This decision feels like a slam dunk to me. Anyone who is able to effectively run a pyramid scheme is a brilliant strategist. The Happy Mask Salesman is no exception. He runs an offense that is centered around a selfless and thoughtful quarterback. If the salesman needs his quarterback to throw for 400 yards, he will. If he needs him to hand off 40 times and run 10 times himself, he will. Whatever is needed, the quarterback must be disciplined enough to follow instructions and not take matters into their own hands.


Defensive Coordinator - Impa

Rushing out of Hyrule Castle Town, Impa shares an example of her ability to protect royalty. On Sunday she trades in protecting Zelda for protecting the endzone. You better bring a good kicker when you come to Hyrule because trips to the endzone are going to be few and far between.


Special Teams Coordinator - Lake Scientist

Everyone knows a special teams coordinator who’s just a little out there. They don’t see the game the same way as the rest of us. They probably get all excited for fried frog eyeballs. With an obsession for fitness, the Lake Scientist ensures all his special team players are able to dive at least 10 feet inside his lab (he says it’s to make sure his players can effectively cover the whole field on kickoffs and punts).


Quarterback (QB) - Adult Link

He’s everything you’d ever want in a quarterback. As a man of few words, he motivates his teammates by example. While his pregame speeches are non-existent, the team has no choice but to follow him after the way he prepares in the film room and on the practice field. Ocarina of Time Link is also one of the best athletes in the game. With Golden Gauntlets equipped, he can throw the ball 80 yards downfield and run through any would-be tacklers. He’s the ultimate dual-threat quarterback.


Running Back (RB) - Running Man

This is a pretty obvious choice. In the open field, the running man can’t be stopped. Although he can’t be caught, he doesn’t have the greatest hands. Fumbling is an issue with him if a defense can get to him in the backfield, but if he can get to the outside with his bunny ears on, you’ll never catch him… ever. In fact, he might only be available for one play. On more than one occasion, he has disappeared into Hyrule Field to enjoy a run across the land looking for the next racer to defeat.


Wide Receiver (WR) 1 - Buyer

The buyer has some of the quickest moves in all of football. His quick-twitch muscle fiber makes him a nightmare for opposing cornerbacks to deal with. Instead of asking Link to sell him something by pressing C, he’s always begging Link to throw him the ball (perhaps in a Zelda football video game he asks him to throw him by pressing C).


WR 2 - Medicine Shop Owner

He always struck me as a tall man who would make great target for a quarterback. He may be nice enough to let you use the hallway out of his shop in Kakariko Village, but don’t get it twisted–when he puts a helmet on, he’s a bad man.


Slot Receivers - Twin Jugglers

(Images' Sources: Red Juggler and Blue Juggler; Zelda Fandom Wiki)

They may not be able to reach Princess Zelda, but they’re able to find the endzone. These two slot receivers are a menace to opposing defenses. Their ability to understand what the other is going to do in any particular play makes them even more terrifying. They can both run option routes and space the field perfectly without communicating. In fact, Link doesn’t even give them route assignments on pass plays; he just lets them improvise and get open.


Center (C) - Death Mountain Trail Guard

No one passes unless the princess approves. With his Keaton mask equipped, he understands that none of the defensive players are capable of presenting a note to access the quarterback. He is the brains of the offensive line and is able to direct the offensive line’s blocking schemes.


Offensive Lineman (OL) - Bazaar Owner, Treasure Chest Shop Manager, and/or Bazaar Sidekick

The shop owner has the biggest hands I’ve ever seen. His ability to lock up defensive linemen with his massive hands makes him the ideal candidate to protect Link or open up running lanes for the Running Man. He also has tree-trunk legs that make him the perfect candidate for an offensive lineman.


OL 2 - Darunia

He’ll do whatever it takes to protect his sworn brother. His pregame snack in the locker room is an enormous boulder. Darunia doesn’t need a pregame speech to get going–he just plays “Saria’s Song” on repeat to get his juices flowing.


Defensive Lineman (DL) - Link (Goron)

It’s not fair that Hyrule can have Gorons on their team, but they can, and they do. Darunia and Link lead the league in sacks and tackles for loss every season. When they get rolling into the backfield, they can’t be stopped.


DL 2 - Jiro, Saburo, and/or Shiro

(Images' Sources: Jiro, Saburo, and Shiro; Zelda Fandom Wiki)

The construction workers have a motor that’s never ending. They may not be the fastest defensive linemen, but they never stop running. Now that I’ve made them football players, the lack of progress around Kakariko Village in Link’s childhood makes sense. They’re not concerned with building the town; they’re training for Sunday.


DL 3 - Bean Seller

Bean Seller (Image Source: Zelda Fandom Wiki)

All those beans make a man grow big, strong, and, most importantly, wide. Except for Link–Link buys his bean inventory to make sure the seller stays happy and motivated on game days.


Linebacker (LB) - Nabooru and Two Gerudo Warriors

(Images' Sources: Nabooru, Gerudo Warriors; Zelda Fandom Wiki)

Having a trio of warriors is any defensive coordinator’s dream come true. They’re the smartest warriors. They understand where they need to be on the field to be sure to punish any offensive player foolish enough to run across the middle.


Cornerback (CB) - Saria

Saria is short and fast. She loves Link like a brother and understands her assignment on the football field is to give the ball back to Link and the offense without surrendering any points. Link keeps his Fairy Ocarina on the sideline to communicate with her how the offense is planning to attack their defense.


CB 2 - Mido

No matter how hard you try, you can’t get around him. He proves his ability to stick to wide receivers like glue when Link tries to access the Deku Tree without a sword and shield. What this Kokiri lacks in size he makes up for in speed and instinct.


Safety (S) - Man on Roof

He likes to survey the field from afar. He’ll be able to identify where the play is progressing and attack accordingly.

S - Phonogram Man

When Link knows they’re about to play a big game, he makes the locker room DJ play the “Song of Storms” to ensure his best safety is in the proper mindset. Link needs a blood boiling, well-draining, hard-hitting, angry safety.


Kicker (K) - Graveyard Boy

He spends so much time imitating Dampe that his right leg becomes freakishly strong. He’s been known to hit 50-yard field goals with ease.


Punter (P) - Master Craftsman’s Son

Punters spend most of their time alone. They just show up to punt and then disappear. It’s a perfect job for Kakariko Village’s lonely soul.


Long Snapper (LS) - Shooting Gallery Owner

He owns a shooting gallery, which means he must have a good aim. He’s very accurate at snapping long distances, and as a big man, he’s also able to effectively block oncoming rushers.


Zelda Franchise Opponents

Skyloft Loftwings (Skyword Sword) In a nod to the late Mike Leach, the Loftwings run the air raid offense. Running backs need not apply.

Image Source: David Lopez

Windfall Islands Red Lions (The Wind Waker) The Red Lions run a methodical offense. Their offense is centered around underneath routes, a strong running game, and maintaining time of possession. Remember the Triforce pieces hunt? That’s brief compared to an 80-yard touchdown drive.

Image Source: David Lopez

Termina Giants (Majora’s Mask) The Giants use their size advantage to control the line of scrimmage and manage their run-first offense.

Image Source: David Lopez


You can find me on Twitter @LayoutLopez and let me know what you think of the OoT roster, my mascots, and descriptions from other Zelda games. What changes would you make? Let me know if there are any other rosters I can construct for other sports: bowling, soccer, field hockey–anything goes!

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy that big football game coming up.


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