There are a number of traditional plays in football that even the most casual viewer could describe, such as a hand-off or the Hail Mary pass. Occasionally, coaches or quarterbacks opt for a more nuanced play, or a trick play, such as the Statue of Liberty. During the Statue of Liberty play, the quarterback takes the hike and drops back from the offensive line as if preparing to pass the ball downfield. The quarterback subsequently fakes a throw to one side of the field and, as the throwing arm completes its motion, hands the ball off to a runner who runs in the opposite direction of the faked throw.
The play derives its name from the position the quarterback assumes during the fake pass, with his throwing arm raised high overhead and the opposite arm hanging down, similar to the posture of the actual Statue of Liberty. There are a number of slight variations on the play, such as the quarterback pretending to scan the field for an available receiver with his arm cocked back for a throw. In this version of the play, the runner goes behind the quarterback and takes the ball directly from the throwing hand before the quarterback releases.