Savage recalled the story of the song to WESA
"The first element of 'Total Football' to come to me was the intro and outro sections. In fact, it was probably the first new thing I had written for Parquet Courts since Human Performance. I remember coming up with it and playing it over and over again on guitar.
I like songs like Poison Idea's 'Made to Be Broken,' which have these catchy, mid-tempo intro and outro parts and a faster, hardcore song sandwiched between. 'Total Football' isn't exactly a hardcore song, but that's the imagery I see when I hear it. Kids stage-diving and creepy crawling. Definitely a lot of [hardcore punk] youth crew influence toward the end, with the gang vocals, and the vocals on the outro.
The bass line of the song was inspired by Devo. I had these parts written for the longest time before [adding] the pre-chorus and chorus bits. The lyrics take the form of a manifesto, which is fitting for the first song on this album I think. Bold and declarative."