A term used to refer to the arms of a pass receiver who does not fully extend them to make a catch, usually as a result of anticipating a tackle by a defensive player.
Typically used in broadcasting or journalism, alligator arms is a derogatory moniker applied to receivers who have a pattern of not making proper effort to extend their arms to make a difficult catch, especially when in the proximity of one or more defenders. As the name suggests, like alligators with short ineffective arms, such receivers’ arms are implied to not be adequate to the task of adjusting to catch difficult passes, whether by effort or talent.
“Alligator arm” commentary comes most often when receivers fail to demonstrate their ability in big moments. One example comes from Superbowl XLVII, in which Randy Moss was accused by Bill Romanowski of having alligator arms on a play in which Colin Kaepernick was intercepted by Ravens safety Ed Reed. The implication was that Randy Moss could have made a better attempt to catch or deflect the ball that sailed over his head.