United Football League (UFL) Announces Their 8 UFL Teams For 2024 | UFL Rules

United Football League (UFL) Rules

This edition of the Official Playing Rules of the UFL contains all current rules governing the playing of professional football that are in effect for the 2024 season. Any intra-League dispute or call for interpretation in connection with these rules will be decided by designated members of the Football Operations Department of the League, whose ruling will be final.

Where the word “illegal” appears in this rule book, it is an institutional term of art pertaining strictly to actions that violate UFL playing rules. It is not meant to connote illegality under any public law or the rules or regulations of any other organization.

The word “flagrant,” when used here to describe an action by a player, is meant to indicate that the degree of a violation of the rules—usually a personal foul or unnecessary roughness—is extremely objectionable, conspicuous, unnecessary, avoidable, or gratuitous. “Flagrant” in these rules does not necessarily imply malice on the part of the fouling player or an intention to injure an opponent.

RULE 1 | THE FIELD

DIMENSIONS

PLAYING LINES

The game shall be played upon a rectangular field, 360 feet in length and 160 feet in width. The lines at each end of the field are termed End Lines. Those on each side are termed Sidelines. Goal Lines shall be established in the field 10 yards from and parallel to each end line.

The area bounded by goal lines and sidelines is known as the Field of Play. The surface of the entire Field of Play must be a League-approved shade of green. The areas bounded by goal lines, end lines, and sidelines are known as the End Zones. The areas bounded by goal lines and lines parallel to, and 70 feet 9 inches inbounds, from each sideline, are known as the Side Zones. The lines parallel to sidelines are termed Inbound Lines. The end lines and the sidelines are also termed Boundary Lines.

FIELD

The Field includes the Field of Play and the End Zones. The Field will be rimmed by a solid white border a minimum of 6 feet wide along the end lines and sidelines. An additional broken limit line 6 feet further outside this border is to encompass the Field in the non-bench areas, and such broken line will be continued at an angle from each 25-yard line and pass behind the bench areas (all benches a minimum 30 feet back from the sidelines). In addition, within each bench area, a yellow line 6 feet behind the solid white border will delineate a special area for coaches, behind which all players, except one player charting the game, must remain. If a club’s solid white border is a minimum of 12 feet wide, there is no requirement that the broken restraining line also be added in the non-bench areas. However, the appropriate yellow line described above must be clearly marked within the bench areas.

In special circumstances (for example, an artificial surface in a multi-purpose stadium) and subject to prior approval from the League Office, a club may omit the 6-foot solid white border during a period while football overlaps with another sport, and substitute a single 4-inch white line at what normally would be the outer limit of the solid border (6 feet from the sidelines).

MARKINGS

LINE MARKINGS

At intervals of 5 yards, yard lines parallel to the goal lines shall be marked in the field of play. These lines are to stop 8 inches short of the 6-foot solid border. The 4-inch wide yard lines are to be extended 4 inches beyond the white 6-foot border along the sidelines. Each of these lines shall be intersected at right angles by short lines 70 feet, 9 inches long (23 yards, 1 foot, 9 inches) in from each side to indicate inbound lines.

INBOUND LINES

In line with the Inbound Lines there shall be marks at 1-yard intervals between each distance of 5 yards for the full length of the field. These lines are to begin 8 inches from the 6-foot solid border and are to measure 2 feet in length.

Bottoms of numbers indicating yard lines in multiples of 10 must be placed beginning 12 yards in from each sideline. These are to be 2 yards in length.

Two yards from the middle of each goal line and parallel to it, there shall be marked in the Field of Play, lines 1 yard in length. All boundary lines, goal lines, and marked lines are to be continuous lines. These, and any other specified markings, must be in white, and there shall be no exceptions without the authorization of the Football Operations Department. Field numerals must also be white.

Care must be exercised in any end-zone marking or decoration or club identification at the 50-yard line that said marking or decorations do not in any way cause confusion as to delineation of goal lines, sidelines, and end lines. Such markings or decorations must be approved by the Football Operations Department.

The four intersections of goal lines and sidelines must be marked, at inside corners, by weighted pylons. In addition, two such pylons shall be placed on each end line (four in all).

GOAL LINE

All measurements are to be made from the inside edges of the line marking the boundary lines. Each goal line marking is to be in its end zone so that the edge of the line toward the field of play (actual goal line) is 30 feet from the inside edge of the end line. Each goal line is to be eight inches wide.

All lines are to be marked with a material that is not injurious to eyes or skin. It is desirable that the yard line markers be flexible in order to prevent injury. No benches or rigid fixtures should be nearer than 10 yards from sidelines.

GROUND RULES

In League parks where ground rules are necessary, because of fixed conditions that cannot be changed, they will be made by the Football Operations Department.

GOAL

CROSSBAR

In the plane of each end line, there shall be a centrally placed horizontal crossbar 18 feet, 6 inches in length, the top face of which is 10 feet above the ground. The goal is the vertical plane extending indefinitely above the crossbar and between the lines indicated by the outer edges of the goal posts.

GOAL POSTS

All goal posts will be the single-standard type, offset from the end line and bright gold in color. The uprights will extend 35 feet above the crossbar and will be no less than 3 inches and no more than 4 inches in diameter. An orange-colored ribbon 4 inches by 42 inches is to be attached to the top of each post.

Note: Goal posts must be padded in a manner prescribed by the League.

PLAYERS’ BENCHES

At the option of the home team, both the players’ benches may be located on the same side of the field. In such a case, the end of each bench shall start at the 45-yard line and continue towards the adjacent goal line.

Note: When both benches are so located, the chain crew and linespersons are to operate during the entire game on the opposite side to the benches.

CHAIN CREW AND BALL PERSONNEL

Members of the chain crew and the ball personnel must be uniformly identifiable as specified by the Football Operations Department.

SIDELINE MARKERS

The home club must provide and use the standard set of sideline markers that have been approved by the Football Operations Department

RULE 2 | THE BALL

DIMENSIONS

The Ball must be approved by the Football Operations Department.

The ball shall be made up of an inflated (12½ to 13½ pounds) urethane bladder enclosed in a pebble grained, leather case (natural tan color) without corrugations of any kind. It shall have the form of a prolate spheroid, and the size and weight shall be: long axis, 11 to 11¼ inches; long circumference, 28 to 28½ inches; short circumference, 21 to 21¼ inches; weight, 14 to 15 ounces.

The Referee shall be the sole judge as to whether all balls offered for play comply with these specifications. A pump is to be furnished by the home club, and the balls shall remain under the supervision of the Referee until they are delivered to the ball attendant just prior to the start of the game.

SUPPLY

Each team will make the appropriate number of primary and backup balls available for testing by the Referee no later than two hours and 30 minutes prior to the starting time of the game to meet League requirements.

In case of rain or a wet, muddy, or slippery field, a playable ball shall be used at the request of the offensive team’s center. The Game Clock shall not stop for such action (unless undue delay occurs).

Note: It is the responsibility of the home team to furnish playable balls at all times by attendants from either side of the playing field.

RULE 3 | DEFINITIONS

APPROVED RULING (A.R.)

An Approved Ruling (A.R.) is a written decision on a given statement of facts and serves to illustrate the intent and application of a rule. Supplemental notes are used to amplify a rule. A Note is more specific and applies to a particular situation. It is also used to indicate pertinent references to other rules.

An Official Ruling (O.R.) is a ruling made in the interim between the annual rules meetings and is official only during the current season.

Technical Terms are such terms that have a fixed and defined meaning throughout the Playing Rules. Because of their alphabetical arrangement in Rule 2, certain ones are used prior to being defined. In such cases, they appear in bold type only the first time they are used.

THE BALL AND POSSESSION OF THE BALL

DEAD BALL

A Dead Ball is one that is not in play. The time period during which the ball is dead is Between Downs. This includes the interval during all timeouts, including intermission, and from the time the ball becomes dead until it is legally put in play.

BALL READY FOR PLAY

A Dead Ball is Ready for Play when the ball is placed down at the spot where the ball will next be put in play, or when the Referee signals for the 25-second Play Clock to start after an administrative stoppage.

LIVE BALL

A Live Ball is a ball that is in play. A Dead Ball becomes a live ball when it is:

(a) legally kicked on a Free Kick Down;
(b) legally snapped on a Scrimmage Down; or
(c) legally kicked on a Fair Catch Kick Down.

It continues in play until the down ends.

LOOSE BALL

A Loose Ball is a live ball that is not in player possession, i.e., any ball that has been kicked, passed, or fumbled. A Loose Ball is considered to be in possession of the team (offense) whose player kicked, passed, or fumbled it. It is a Loose Ball until a player secures possession or until the ball becomes dead. If it has not yet struck the ground, a Loose Ball is In Flight.

FUMBLE

A Fumble is any act, other than passing, successful handing, or legally kicking the ball, which results in a loss of player possession. It is not a fumble if the player immediately regains control of the ball. The use of the term Fumble always means that the ball was in possession of a player when the act occurred.

Note: An intentional fumble that causes the ball to go forward is a forward pass and may be illegal.

MUFF

A Muff is the touching of a loose ball by a player in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain possession of it.

Note: Any ball intentionally muffed forward is a bat and may be a foul.

Touching the Ball refers to any contact with the ball. There is no distinction between a player touching the ball with his hands, or with any other part of his body, including his hair, except as specifically provided for.

Note: The result of the touching is sometimes influenced by the intent or the location.

(a) See Rule 6 for touching a free kick.
(c) See Rule 8 for ineligible offensive player touching a forward pass on, behind, or beyond the line.
(d) See Rule 9 for touching a scrimmage kick on or behind the line, and for being pushed into a kick by an opponent.
(e) See Rule 11 for touching a kick during an attempted field goal.
(f) Simultaneous touching by two opponents in an attempt to establish possession of a ball that has been kicked is treated as a first touch by the kicking team.

PLAYER POSSESSION

A player is in possession when he is inbounds and has control of the ball with his hands or arms.

To gain possession of a loose ball that has been caught, intercepted, or recovered, a player (a must have complete control of the ball with his hands or arms and (b) have both feet or any other part of his body, other than his hands, completely on the ground inbounds, and, after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, perform any act common to the game (e.g., tuck the ball away, extend it forward, take an additional step, turn up field, or avoid or ward off an opponent.) It is not necessary that he commits such an act, provided that he maintains control of the ball long enough to do so. This rule applies in the field of play, at the sideline, and in the end zone.

Notes:

  1. Movement of the ball does not automatically result in loss of control.
  2. If a player who has completed the first two, but not the third requirement for possession, contacts the ground and loses control of the ball, there is no possession if the ball hits the ground before he regains control, or if he regains control out of bounds. If a player would have caught, intercepted, or recovered a ball inbounds, but is clearly carried out of bounds, player possession will be granted.

The terms catch, intercept, recover, advance, and fumble denote player possession (as distinguished from touching or muffing).

A catch is made when a player inbounds secures possession of a pass, kick, or fumble that is in flight. An interception is made when an opponent who is inbounds catches a forward or backward pass or a fumble that has not touched the ground.

Notes:

(1) It is a catch, or an interception, if, in the process of attempting to possess the ball, a player secures control of the ball prior to it touching the ground, and that control is maintained during and after the ball has touched the ground.
(2) In the field of play, if a catch or interception has been completed, and the ball comes loose before the player is down by contact, it is a fumble, and the ball remains alive. It is also a fumble if the action occurs in the end zone of the player who caught the loose ball. If the action occurs in the opponent’s end zone, it is a touchdown or a touchback.
(3) If there is any question by the covering official(s) as to whether a forward pass is complete, intercepted, or incomplete, it always will be ruled incomplete.

A recovery is made when a player inbounds secures possession of a loose ball after it has touched the ground.

If a Loose Ball is controlled simultaneously by two opponents, and both players retain it, it is simultaneous possession, and the ball belongs to the team last in possession, or to the receiving team when there has been a Free Kick, Scrimmage Kick, or Fair Catch Kick. It is not simultaneous possession if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control.

BAT

A Bat is the intentional striking of the ball with any part of the hand or arm.

BLOCKING

Blocking is the act of obstructing or impeding an opponent by contacting him with a part of the blocker’s body.

A Block in the Back is a block that is delivered from behind an opponent above his waist. It is not a block in the back:

(a) if a player is making a personal attempt to recover a loose ball;
(b) if the opponent turns away from the blocker when contact is imminent;
(c) if both of the blocker’s hands are on the opponent’s side. (If either hand is on the back, it is a foul.)

A Block Below the Waist is when the initial contact with any part of the blocker’s body is below the waist of an opponent, other than the runner, who has one or both feet on the ground. A blocker who makes contact above the waist and then slides below the waist while maintaining continuous contact has not blocked below the waist. If an opponent uses his hands to ward off a block creating contact below the waist, it is not a block below the waist.

CHUCKING

Chucking is intentionally contacting an eligible receiver who is in front of a defender.

CLIPPING

Clipping is blocking an opponent from behind below the waist, provided the opponent is not a runner. It is not clipping if an opponent turns his back as the block is delivered or about to be delivered.

Notes:

(1) It is clipping (including in close line play) if an offensive player’s block (legal or illegal) is followed by the blocker rolling up on the side or back of the legs of the defender.
(2) See Rule 12 for additional interpretations or restrictions concerning clipping in close-line play.

CLOSE-LINE PLAY, LOW BLOCK ZONE, POCKET, TACKLE BOX

CLOSE LINE PLAY

Close-Line Play is contact that occurs in an area extending between the outside edges of the normal tackle positions and three yards on either side of the line of scrimmage. Close-line play no longer exists after the ball leaves the area.

LOW BLOCK ZONE

The Low Block Zone is the area between both sidelines extending five yards from the line of scrimmage in either direction.

POCKET AREA

The Pocket Area is the area between the outside edges of the normal tackle positions on each side of the center extending backward to the offensive team’s end line. After the ball leaves the pocket area, this area no longer exists.

DISQUALIFIED PLAYER

A Disqualified Player is one who is prohibited from further participation in the game. He must return to his dressing room within a reasonable period of time and is not permitted to reappear in his team uniform or return to any area other than to which spectators have access.

DOWN

DOWN

A Down is a period of action that starts when the ball is put in play and ends when the ball is
declared dead.

A down that starts with a snap is a Scrimmage Down.
A down that starts with a free kick is a Free Kick Down.
A down that starts with a fair catch kick is a Fair Catch Kick Down.

SERIES OF DOWNS

A Series of Downs is the four consecutive charged scrimmage downs allotted to the offensive team during which it must advance the ball to a yard line called “the line to gain” in order to retain possession.

LINE TO GAIN

The Line to Gain is the spot 10 yards in advance of the spot of the snap that starts a series, except when a goal line is less than 10 yards from this spot. In that case, the Line to Gain is the goal line.

CHARGED DOWN

A Charged Down is a scrimmage down that is not nullified by a penalty, or during which there is not a change of possession. It counts as a down in a Series of Downs.

FIRST DOWN

The initial down in each series is the First Down. If it is a charged down, subsequent charged downs are numbered consecutively (i.e., second down, third down, or fourth down) until a new series is declared for either team.

FAIR CATCH

A Fair Catch is an unhindered catch of a scrimmage kick (provided that it has crossed the line of scrimmage), or of a free kick, that is in flight by a player of the receiving team who has legally signaled his intention of attempting such a catch.

Note: For fair-catch kick, see Rule 10.

FIELD GOAL

A Field Goal is made by kicking the ball from the field of play through the plane of the opponents’ Goal, which is an area either between the goal posts and above the cross bar, or, if above the goal posts, between the outside edges of the goal posts. A Field Goal is made by a drop kick or a placekick from  (a) on or behind the line on a play from scrimmage or (b) during a fair catch kick.

THE FIELD

BOUNDARY LINES

The Boundary Lines are the End Lines and the Sidelines and enclose the field upon which the game is played.

END LINES

The End Lines are the lines at each end of the field and are perpendicular to the Sidelines. The End Line is 10 yards from the Goal Line and at the back of the End Zone.

END ZONE

The End Zone is the rectangle formed by the Goal Line, the End Line, and the Sidelines. The Goal Line and the pylons are in the End Zone.

FIELD OF PLAY

The Field of Play is the rectangle formed by the Goal Lines and the Sidelines. It does not include the End Zone.

GOAL

The goal is the area above the crossbar between the uprights, or, if above the uprights, the area between the outside edges of the uprights. A team’s Own Goal is the one it is defending. The adjacent goal line is known as its goal line.

GOAL LINES

The Goal Lines are the lines between the Sidelines that separate the End Zone from the field of play. The Goal Lines are vertical planes that are parallel to and 10 yards from the End Lines.

INBOUNDS LINES

The Inbounds Lines are hash marks on the Field of Play that are 70 feet nine inches from and parallel to each sideline.

SIDELINES

The Sidelines are the lines on each side of the field and are perpendicular to the End Lines. The Sidelines separate the Field of Play from the area that is out of bounds.

YARD LINE

A Yard Line is any line and its vertical plane parallel to the end line. The Yard Lines (marked or unmarked) in the field of play are named by number in yards from a team’s goal line to the center of the field.

Note: The yard line 19 yards from Team A’s goal line is called A’s 19-yard line. The yard line 51 yards from A’s goal line is called B’s 49-yard line. For brevity, these are referred to as A’s 19 and B’s 49 or A19 and B49.

FORWARD PROGRESS

FORWARD PROGRESS

The Forward Progress of a runner or airborne receiver is the point at which his advance toward his opponent’s goal ends and is the spot at which the ball is declared dead by rule, irrespective of the runner or receiver being pushed or carried backward by an opponent.

FORWARD, BEYOND, OR IN ADVANCE

Forward, Beyond, or In Advance Of are terms that designate a point nearer the goal line of the defense. Backward or Behind designate a point nearer the goal line of the offense. A pass parallel to a yard line, or an offensive player moving parallel to it at the snap, is considered backward.

FOULS AND SPOTS OF ENFORCEMENT, VIOLATION

TYPES OF FOULS

A Foul is any infraction of a playing rule for which a penalty is prescribed.

(a) A Live Ball Foul is a foul that occurs during the period after the snap until the ball is dead.

(b) A Dead Ball Foul is a foul that occurs in the continuing action after a down ends, or a taunting foul that occurs at any time.

(c) A Foul Between Downs is a foul that occurs after the end of the down and after any continuing action resulting from the down, but prior to the next snap or free kick.

(d) A Multiple Foul is one of two or more fouls by the same team during the same down, including dead ball fouls.

(e) A Double Foul is a foul by either team during the same down during which both teams commit at least one foul, including dead ball fouls.

BASIC SPOT

The Basic Spot is a reference point for specific types of plays that is used to determine the Spot of Enforcement.

SPOTS OF ENFORCEMENT

The Spot of Enforcement is the spot at which a penalty is enforced. Six such spots are commonly used.

(a) The Previous Spot: The spot at which the ball was last put in play.

(b) The Spot of the Foul: The spot at which a foul was committed or, by rule, is considered to have been committed.

(c) The Spot of a Backward Pass or a Fumble: The spot at which the backward pass or fumble occurred during the down in which there was a foul.

(d) The Dead Ball Spot: The spot at which the ball became dead.

(e) The Succeeding Spot: The spot at which the ball will next be put in play (i.e., the spot of the ball after enforcement for a foul, or, if there has been no foul, the spot at which the ball became dead.)

(f) The Spot of a Change of Possession: The spot at which possession is gained by or awarded to the opponent.

VIOLATION

A violation is an infraction of a playing rule for which a penalty is not prescribed. A violation does not offset a foul.

HANDING THE BALL

Handing the ball is transferring player possession from one teammate to another without passing or kicking it.

(a) Except where permitted by rule, handing the ball forward to a teammate is illegal.

(b) Loss of player possession by unsuccessful execution of attempted handing is a fumble charged to the player that last had possession. A muffed handoff (legal or illegal) is a fumble, and the ball remains alive, unless either player immediately regains control of the ball.

(c) A forward handoff occurs when the ball is handed (regardless of the direction of the movement of the ball) to a player who is in advance of a teammate from whose hands he takes or receives it.

HUDDLE

A Huddle is the action of two or more players in the field of play or in the end zone who, instead of assuming their normal position for the snap, free kick, or Fair Catch kick form a group for receiving instructions for the next play or for any other reason.

IMPETUS

Impetus is the action of a player who carries the ball or provides the force (i.e., a pass, kick, snap, or fumble) that causes a ball in the field of play to touch or cross a goal line. If a Loose Ball touches or crosses a goal line, the impetus is attributed to the team whose player passed, kicked, snapped, or fumbled the ball, unless an opponent:

(a) muffs a ball that is at rest, or nearly at rest;

(b) bats a ball that has been kicked or fumbled;

(c) bats a backward pass after it has struck the ground; or

(d) illegally kicks any ball.

Notes:

  1. A loose ball retains its original status (as a pass, kick, fumble, etc.) even if new impetus is added.
  2. The impetus is always attributed to the offense, unless the defense creates a new force that sends the ball behind its own goal line by muffing a ball which is at rest or nearly at rest, or by batting a loose ball on the ground or kicking any loose ball.
  3. If a passive player is pushed or blocked into any kicked or fumbled ball or into a backward pass after it has struck the ground, causing the Loose Ball to touch a goal line or anything on or behind a goal line, the impetus is attributed to the pusher or blocker, provided that the pushed (blocked) player was not making an attempt to block an opponent.

KICKS

KICK

A Kick is intentionally striking the ball with the knee, lower leg, or foot. A kick ends when a player of either team possesses the ball, or when the ball is dead.

Item 1. Drop Kick. A Drop Kick is a kick by a player who drops the ball and kicks it as, or immediately after, it touches the ground.

Item 2. Placekick. A Placekick is a kick made by a player while the ball is in a fixed position on the ground. The ball may be held in position by a teammate. If it is a kickoff, it is permissible to use an approved manufactured tee.

Item 3. Punt. A Punt is a kick made by a player who drops the ball and kicks it before it strikes the ground.

KICKER

A Kicker is the player of Team A who legally drop kicks, placekicks, or punts the ball. Team A is identified as the kickers during a down in which there is a scrimmage kick, free kick, or fair catch kick.

RECEIVER

A Receiver is any Team B player during a down in which there is a scrimmage kick, free kick, or fair catch kick. Team B is identified as the receiving team during the entire down.

FAIR CATCH KICK

A Fair Catch Kick is a drop kick or placekick without a tee from the spot of a Fair Catch in an attempt to score a Field Goal.

FREE KICK

A Free Kick is a kickoff or safety kick that puts the ball in play to start a Free Kick down.

Item 1. Kickoff. A Kickoff is a kick that puts the ball in play at the start of each half, after each Try, and after a successful field goal.

Item 2. Safety Kick. A Safety Kick is a kick that puts the ball in play after a safety.

RESTRAINING LINES

The Restraining Lines are lines which restrict the alignment of the kicking and receiving teams during a Free Kick and Fair Catch Kick.

SCRIMMAGE KICK

A Scrimmage Kick is a punt, drop kick, or placekick from on or behind the line of scrimmage.

TEE

A Tee is an approved device that is used to elevate the ball for a placekick during a kickoff.

LINE OF SCRIMMAGE, NEUTRAL ZONE

SCRIMMAGE LINE

The Line of Scrimmage is the vertical plane of the yard line that passes through the forward point of the ball after it has been made ready for play. The term scrimmage line, or line, implies a play from scrimmage.

NEUTRAL ZONE

The Neutral Zone is the space between the forward and backward points of the ball (planes) and extends to the sidelines. It starts when the ball is ready for play.

PLAYER ON LINE OF SCRIMMAGE

A player of Team A, who is on the line of scrimmage, must have his shoulders facing Team B’s goal line.

Item 1. Non-Snapper. If he is not the snapper, no part of his body is permitted to be in the neutral zone at the snap, and his helmet must break a vertical plane that passes through the beltline of the snapper.

Item 2. Snapper. If he is the snapper, no part of his body may be beyond the Neutral Zone.

Note: Interlocking of legs is permissible.

Item 3. Team B. A Team B player is considered to be on the line of scrimmage if he is within one yard of the neutral zone.

ENCROACHING

A player is encroaching on the Neutral Zone when any part of his body is in it, and he contacts an offensive player or the ball prior to the snap.

LOOSE BALL CROSSES LINE OF SCRIMMAGE

A Loose Ball has crossed the line of scrimmage when, as the result of a fumble, pass, or legal kick by a Team A player, it touches the ground or any player or official beyond the neutral zone.

OFFSIDE

A player is Offside when any part of his body is in the Neutral Zone, or is beyond his free kick line, or fair catch kick line when the ball is put in play, unless he is a holder of a placekick for a free kick or fair catch kick, or a kicker. The snapper is offside if any part of his body is beyond the neutral zone. The kicker is not offside unless his kicking foot is beyond his Restraining Line when the ball is kicked.

OUT OF BOUNDS, INBOUNDS, AND INBOUNDS SPOT

PLAYER OR OFFICIAL OUT OF BOUNDS

A player or an Official is Out of Bounds when he touches a boundary line, or when he touches anything that is on or outside a boundary line, except a player, an official, or a pylon.

PLAYER INBOUNDS

A player who has been out of bounds re-establishes himself as an inbounds player when any part of his body touches the ground within the boundary lines, provided that no part of his body is touching a boundary line or anything other than a player, an official, or a pylon on or outside a boundary line.

BALL OUT OF BOUNDS

Item 1. Ball in Player Possession. A ball that is in player possession is out of bounds when the runner is out of bounds, or when the ball touches a boundary line or anything that is on or outside such line, except another player or an official.

Item 2. Loose Ball. A loose ball that is not in player control is out of bounds when it touches a boundary line or anything that is on or outside such line, including a player, an official, or a pylon.

OUT-OF-BOUNDS SPOT

Item 1. Loose Ball. If a Loose Ball touches anything on or outside a boundary line, the Out-of Bounds Spot is the forward point of the ball when the ball crosses the sideline.

Item 2. Runner Out of Bounds. If the ball is in player possession when that player goes out of bounds, the out-of-bounds spot is the forward point of the ball when the ball crosses the sideline, or, if the ball does not cross the sideline, the forward point of the ball at the instant the player is out of bounds.

Item 3. Runner Inbounds. If the ball, while in possession of a player who is inbounds, is declared out of bounds because of touching anything that is out of bounds, the out-of-bounds spot is the yard line through the forward point of the ball at the instant of such touching.

INBOUNDS SPOT

The Inbounds Spot is a spot on the Inbounds Line (the hash marks) that passes through the spot where the ball went out of bounds between the goal lines.

PASS

PASS

A pass is the movement caused by a player intentionally handing, throwing, shoveling (shovel pass), or pushing (push pass) the ball.

PASSER AND PASSING TEAM

A player who makes a legal forward pass is known as the Passer until the play ends. The teammates of any player who passes the ball forward (legally or illegally) are known collectively as the Passing Team or Passers.

PASS PLAY

A Pass Play begins with the snap and ends when a forward pass thrown from behind the line of scrimmage is caught by a player of either team or is incomplete. After the pass is caught, a Running Play begins.

FORWARD PASS

It is a forward pass if:

(a) the ball initially moves forward (to a point nearer the opponent’s goal line) after leaving the passer’s hand(s); or

(b) the ball first touches the ground, a player, an official, or anything else at a point that is nearer the opponent’s goal line than the point at which the ball leaves the passer’s hand(s).

(c) When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional movement forward of his hand starts a forward pass.

Item 1. Contact by Team B Player. If contact by an opponent materially affects a passer after the passer begins his throwing motion, it is a forward pass if he passes the ball, regardless of where the ball strikes the ground, a player, an official, or anything else. When this occurs, intentional grounding rules do not apply.

When a passer is contacted by an opponent before beginning his throwing motion, the direction of the pass is the responsibility of the passer, and grounding rules apply.

Item 2. Passer Tucks Ball. If the player loses possession of the ball during an attempt to bring it back toward his body, or if the player loses possession after he has tucked the ball into his body, it is a fumble.

Item 3. Passer re-cocks his arm. If the player loses possession of the ball while attempting to re-cock his arm, it is a fumble.

Item 4. Fumbled or Muffed Ball Goes Forward. The fact that a fumbled or muffed ball goes forward is disregarded unless the act is ruled intentional. If it is intentional, a fumbled ball that goes forward is a forward pass, and a muff is a bat.

BACKWARD PASS

It is a Backward Pass if the yard line at which the ball touches the ground, a player, an official or anything else is parallel to or behind the yard line at which the ball leaves the passer’s hand unless the passer or ball is materially affected by defensive contact after forward movement of the passer’s hand begins. A snap becomes a backward pass when the snapper releases the ball.

Note: If a pass is batted, muffed, punched, or kicked in any direction, its original designation as a Forward Pass or a Backward Pass does not change.

PENALTY

PENALTY

A Penalty is imposed upon a team that has committed a foul and may result in loss of down, loss of yardage, an automatic first down, a charged timeout, a loss of playing time, withdrawal or disqualification of a player, extension of a period, the award of a score, or a combination of the preceding.

LOSS OF DOWN

The phrase Loss of Down indicates that a team committing a foul will not have the opportunity to repeat the down after enforcement of any yardage penalty.

PLAYER

A Player is a participant of either team who is in the game.

PLAYS

FREE KICK PLAY

A Free Kick Play begins with a legal or illegal free kick and ends when a player of either team establishes possession of the ball, or when the ball is dead by rule. A Running Play begins when a player of Team B establishes possession.

PASSING PLAY

A Pass Play begins with the snap and ends when a forward pass thrown from behind the line of scrimmage is caught by a player of either team or is incomplete. At the instant that a pass is caught, a Running Play begins.

RUNNING PLAY

A Running Play begins in the following situations:

(a) If there is not a subsequent kick or legal or illegal forward pass from behind the line of scrimmage, a Running Play begins with the Snap.

(b) If there is a legal or illegal forward pass thrown from behind the line of scrimmage, a Running Play begins when the forward pass is caught by a player of either team.

(c) If there is a running play followed by an illegal forward pass thrown from beyond the line of scrimmage, or by an illegal forward pass not from scrimmage, a new Running Play begins when the pass is caught by a player of either team.

(d) If there is a Free Kick, a Running Play begins when Team B establishes possession of the ball.

(e) If there is a scrimmage kick, a Running Play begins when Team B establishes possession of the ball, or when Team A establishes possession of a kicked ball behind the line of scrimmage.

(f) If there is a running play followed by a fumble or a backward pass, a new Running Play begins when a player of either team establishes possession of the ball.

A Running Play ends:

(a) When the ball is declared dead;

(b) When a runner loses or relinquishes possession by a Fumble or a backward pass; or

(c) When a player of either team throws an illegal forward pass beyond the line of scrimmage or when there is not a line of scrimmage.

Note: The running play includes the loose-ball action before a player gains or regains possession or the ball is declared dead.

SCRIMMAGE KICK PLAY

A Scrimmage Kick Play begins with the snap. It ends when a player of either team establishes possession of a kicked ball, or when the ball is dead by rule.

FAIR CATCH KICK PLAY

A Fair Catch Kick Play begins when the ball is kicked. It ends when a player of either team establishes possession of the ball or when the ball is dead by rule.

COMBINATIONS OF PLAYS

There may be a combination of a Running Play and a Passing Play, Free Kick Play, Scrimmage Kick Play, or Fair Catch Kick Play during the same down, and there may be more than one Running Play or Scrimmage Kick Play during the same down.

POST-POSSESSION FOUL

A foul by the receiving team is a post-possession foul if it occurs during a scrimmage kick that crosses the line of scrimmage, provided that the receiving team does not lose possession during the rest of the down.

RUNNER

A Runner is the offensive player who is in possession of a live ball, i.e., holding the ball or carrying it in any direction.

Note: The statement that a player may advance means that he may become a runner, make a legal kick, make a backward pass, or throw a forward pass from behind the line of scrimmage.

SAFETY

It is a Safety if the spot of enforcement for a foul by the offense is behind its own goal line, or if the ball is dead in possession of a team on or behind its own goal line when the impetus comes from the team defending that goal line. If the offense commits a foul behind its own goal line, it is a safety if the defense elects to enforce the penalty at that spot.

SCRIMMAGE DOWN, FROM SCRIMMAGE, NOT FROM SCRIMMAGE

A Scrimmage Down is one that starts with a snap. From Scrimmage refers to any action from the start of the snap until the down ends or until Team B secures possession. Any action that occurs during the down after a change of team possession is not from Scrimmage.

SHIFT

A Shift is any simultaneous change of position or stance by two or more offensive players before the snap after the ball has been made ready for play for a scrimmage down, including movement to the line of scrimmage by the offensive team prior to the snap.

SNAP AND THE SNAPPER

A Snap is a backward pass that puts the ball in play to start a scrimmage down, either by handing it or passing it backward from its position on the ground. The Snapper is the offensive player who initiates this action. See Rule 5 for conditions pertaining to a legal snap.

SUSPENDED PLAYER

A Suspended Player is one who must be withdrawn, in accordance with Rule 4, for correction of illegal equipment.

TACKLING

Tackling is an attempt by a defensive player to hold a runner to halt his advance or bring him to the ground.

TEAM A AND B, OFFENSE AND DEFENSE

OFFENSE AND DEFENSE

Whenever a team is in possession of the ball, it is the Offense, and its opponent is the Defense. The team that is the Offense becomes the Defense, and vice versa, when there is a change of possession during the down.

TEAM A AND TEAM B

The team that puts the ball in play is Team A, and its opponent is Team B. They remain Team A and Team B until a down ends, even though there may be one or more changes of possession during the down. Team A is always the Offense when a down starts but becomes the Defense if Team B secures possession during the down. A player of Team A is referred to as A1 and his teammates as A2, A3, etc. The opponents are B1, B2, etc.

CHANGE OF POSSESSION

A change of possession occurs when a player of the defensive team secures possession of a ball that has been kicked, passed, or fumbled by a player of the offensive team, or when the ball is awarded to the opposing team by rule. A change of possession includes, but is not limited to:

(a) An interception of a forward pass;

(b) A catch or recovery of a fumble or backward pass;

(c) A catch or recovery of a Scrimmage Kick, Free Kick, or Fair-Catch Kick;

(d) When the offensive team fails to reach the line to gain on fourth down; or

(e) When the offensive team misses a field-goal attempt

TIMEOUT OR TIME IN

TIMEOUT

A Timeout is any interval during which the Game Clock is stopped and includes the intermission.

During any timeout, including an intermission, all playing rules continue in effect. Representatives of either team are prohibited from entering the field, unless they are incoming substitutes, or team attendants or trainers entering to provide for the welfare of a player, and any game-type activities are prohibited on the Field of Play. The Head Coach may enter the field to check on the welfare of a player who is injured, but no assistant coach may enter the field.

CHARGED TEAM TIMEOUT

A Charged Team Timeout is an interval during which the Game Clock is stopped, and play is suspended at the request of one of the teams or when it is charged to one of the teams by rule. A Timeout may be granted only when the ball is dead.

TIME IN

Time In is any interval during which the Game Clock is running.

TOUCHBACK

It is a Touchback if the ball is dead on or behind the goal line a team is defending, provided that the impetus comes from an opponent, and that it is not a touchdown or an incomplete pass.

TOUCHDOWN

It is a Touchdown if any part of the ball is on, above, or behind the opponent’s goal line while legally in possession of an inbounds player, provided it is not a touchback.

TRIPPING

Tripping is the use of the leg or foot to obstruct any opponent (including a runner).

TRY

A Try is the attempt by a team that has scored a touchdown to add one point (from the two-yard line), two points (from the five-yard line), or three points (from the 10-yard line) during one untimed scrimmage down. The team attempting the Try must do so by run or pass. A kick is not allowed during a Try.

TWO-MINUTE WARNING

The two-minute warning is an automatic timeout that occurs at the conclusion of the last down for which the ball is legally snapped or kicked prior to two minutes remaining on the game clock in the second and fourth periods.

T-FORMATION QUARTERBACK

A “T-Formation Quarterback” is defined as a player aligned one yard or less behind the snapper.

RULE 4 |GAME TIMING

PERIODS, INTERMISSIONS, HALFTIME

LENGTH OF GAME

The length of the game is 60 minutes, divided into four periods of 15 minutes each. In the event the score is tied at the end of four periods, the game is extended by an overtime period (or periods) as prescribed in Rule 15.

INTERMISSIONS

There will be intervals of at least two minutes and 45 seconds between the first and second periods (first half) and between the third and fourth periods (second half). During these intermissions all playing rules continue in force, and no representative of either team shall enter the field unless he is an incoming substitute, or a team attendant or trainer, entering to see to the welfare of a player. The Head Coach may enter the field to check on the welfare of a player who is injured, but no assistant coach may enter the field.

Penalty: For illegally entering the field: Loss of 15 yards from the succeeding spot.

The Back Judge times the intermissions and shall signal visibly (and sound whistle if necessary) when 10 seconds remain. The Referee shall sound the whistle immediately thereafter for play to start and for the play clock operator to start the 25-second clock.

HALFTIME

Between the second and third periods, there shall be an intermission of 10 minutes. During this intermission, play is suspended, and teams may leave the field. The Back Judge will time halftime.

OFFICIAL TIME

The stadium electronic clock shall be the official time. The game clock operator shall start and stop the clock upon the signal of any official in accordance with the rules. The Side Judge shall supervise the timing of the game, and in case the stadium clock becomes inoperative, or if it is not being operated correctly, the Side Judge shall take over official timing on the field.

Note: Game officials can correct the game clock only before the next legal snap or kick, including an untimed down or try.

STARTING A PERIOD OR HALF

KICKOFF ON SCHEDULE

Both teams must be on the field to kick off at the scheduled time for the start of each half. Prior to the start of the game, both teams are required to appear on the field at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled kickoff to ensure sufficient time for proper warm-up. Designated members of the officiating crew must notify both head coaches personally of the scheduled time for kickoff prior to the start of each half.

Penalties:

(a) For delaying the start of a half: Loss of 15 yards from the spot of the kickoff.

(b) For failure to appear on the field at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled kickoff of the first half: Loss of the possession option for both halves and overtime, and loss of 10 yards from the spot of the kickoff.

POSSESSION OPTION

Not more than twenty minutes before the kickoff of the first half, the Referee will meet with the head coaches from both teams to determine the possession options. Unless they defer their choice to the second half, the home team coach must choose one of two privileges, and the visiting team coach is given the other. The two privileges are:

(a) The opportunity to receive the kickoff, or to kick off; or

(b) The choice of goal his team will defend.
The coach’s original decision may not be changed.

Penalty: For failure to comply: Loss of possession option for both halves and overtime, and loss of 10 yards from the spot of the kickoff for the first half only.

For the second half, the visiting team coach is to have the first choice of the two privileges listed in (a) or (b), unless one of the teams lost its first and second half options, or the home team coach deferred his choice to the second half, in which case he must choose (a) or (b) above. Immediately prior to the start of the second half, the coaches of both teams must inform the Referee of their respective choices.

A coach’s first choice from any alternative privileges listed above is final and not subject to change.

See Rule 16, Section 1, Article 2 for possession option in overtime.

CHANGE OF GOALS

At the end of the first and third periods, the teams must change goals. Team possession, the number of the succeeding down, the relative position of the ball on the field of play, and the line to gain remain the same.

STARTING THE GAME CLOCK

FREE KICK DOWN

The game clock operator shall start the game clock (time in) after a free kick when the ball is legally touched in the field of play. The game clock shall not start if:

(a) the receiving team recovers the ball in the end zone and does not carry the ball into the field of play;

(b) the kicking team recovers the ball in the field of play (prior to any other legal touching);

(c) the receiving team signals for and makes a fair catch

SCRIMMAGE DOWN

Following any timeout, the game clock shall be started on a scrimmage down when the ball is next snapped, except in the following situations:

(a) Whenever a pass is incomplete or a runner goes out of bounds on a play from scrimmage, the game clock is started when the play clock reaches 30 seconds, except that the clock will start on the snap:

  1. after a change of possession; or
  2. after the two-minute warning of ether half.

(b) Whenever a runner is down in bounds beyond the line to gain after the two-minute warning of either half.

(c) If there is an injury timeout prior to the two-minute warning, the game clock is started as if the injury timeout had not occurred.

(d) If there is an excess team timeout after the two-minute warning, the game clock is started as if the excess timeout had not occurred.

(e) If there is a Referee’s timeout, the game clock is started as if the Referee’s timeout had not occurred.

(f) If the game clock is stopped after a down in which there was a foul by either team, following enforcement or declination of a penalty, the game clock will start, except that the clock will start on the snap if:

  1. the foul occurs after the two-minute warning of either half;
  2. the offense commits a foul after the ball is made ready for play, and causes the clock to stop before a snap, during the fourth quarter; or
  3. a specific rule prescribes otherwise.

(g) If a fumble or backward pass by any player goes out of bounds, the game clock starts on the Referee’s signal that a ball has been returned to the field of play.

(h) When there is a 10-second runoff, the game clock starts when the Referee signals that the ball is ready for play.

(i) During the Try, which is an untimed down.

(j) When a specific rule prescribes otherwise.

FAIR CATCH KICK DOWN

The game clock operator shall start the game clock for a fair-catch kick down when the ball is
kicked.

STOPPING THE GAME CLOCK

OUTSIDE TWO MINUTES

Prior to the two-minute warning of either half, the game clock operator shall stop the game clock (timeout) upon a signal by any official or upon the operator’s own positive knowledge:

(a) at the end of a down in which there is a free kick or fair-catch kick;

(b) when the kicking team recovers a scrimmage kick beyond the line of scrimmage;

(c) when the ball is out of bounds,

(d) when the ball is dead on or behind a goal line;

(e) at the end of a down during which a foul occurs;

(f) when a forward pass is incomplete:

(g) at the time of a foul for which the ball remains dead or is dead immediately;

(h) when the Referee signals the two-minute warning for a half;

(i) when a down is completed during which or after there is a change of possession; or

(j) when any official signals a timeout for any other reason including a team timeout, replay review or injured player.

INSIDE TWO MINUTES

After the two-minute warning of either half, in addition to the items listed in Article 1 above, the game clock operator shall stop the game clock (timeout) upon a signal by any official or upon the operator’s own positive knowledge at the end of a scrimmage down when the runner is down in bounds beyond the line to gain.

Note: No extension of the automatic timeouts in this section shall be allowed unless any
player requests a team timeout, or the Referee orders a team timeout or suspends play.

TIMEOUTS

CHARGED TEAM TIMEOUTS

The Referee shall suspend play while the ball is dead and declare a charged team timeout upon the request for a timeout by the head coach or any player (not a substitute) to any official. If an assistant coach signals for a timeout and it is inadvertently granted, the timeout will stand.

Item 1. Three Timeouts Allowed. A team is allowed three charged team timeouts during each half.

Item 2. Length of Timeouts. Charged team timeouts shall be two minutes in length unless the timeout is not used by television for a commercial break. Timeouts shall be 30 seconds in length when the designated number of television commercials have been exhausted in a quarter, if it is a second charged team timeout in the same dead-ball period, or when the Referee so indicates.

Item 3. Consecutive Team Timeouts. Each team may be granted a charged team timeout during the same dead-ball period, but a second charged team timeout by either team during the same dead-ball period is prohibited. Such team timeouts may follow a Referee’s timeout or any automatic timeouts.

Penalty: When a team is granted a second timeout during the same dead-ball period, or a timeout after exhausting its three timeouts during a half: Loss of five yards.

Note: If an attempt is made to call a timeout in such situations, the officials shall not grant it, and play will continue. A penalty shall be enforced only if the timeout is erroneously granted. If a timeout is inadvertently granted, it shall be charged to the team, and the penalty shall also be enforced. After enforcement, all normal rules regarding the game and play clock will apply, except that if time is in, the game clock shall start with the ready-for-play signal. For a timeout charged to the defense, the play clock is reset to 35 seconds.

Item 4. Unsportsmanlike Conduct. An attempt to call an excess team timeout or to call a second timeout in the same dead-ball period by Team B in an attempt to “freeze” a kicker prior to a field goal attempt, will be considered unsportsmanlike conduct and will subject the offending team to a 15-yard penalty.

Note: If an attempt is made to call a timeout in such situations, the officials shall not grant a timeout; instead, play will continue, and a penalty will be called, with customary enforcement. If a timeout is inadvertently granted, and charged, the penalty shall also be enforced.

INJURY TIMEOUTS

If an official determines a player to be injured, or if attendants from the bench come on the field to assist an injured player, an injury timeout will be called by the Referee. If the ATC Spotter identifies a player for medical attention, the rules pertaining to Injury Timeouts in Article 3, and Article 4 (c) apply.

INJURY TIMEOUTS PRIOR TO TWO-MINUTE WARNING

When an injury timeout is called, the injured player must leave the game for the completion of one down. The player will be permitted to remain in the game if:

(a) either team calls a charged team timeout;

(b) the injury is the result of a foul by an opponent; or

(c) the period ends, or the two-minute warning occurs before the next snap.

At the conclusion of an injury timeout, the game clock will start as if the injury timeout had not occurred. If either team takes, or is charged with, a timeout, the clock will start on the snap.

INJURY TIMEOUTS AFTER TWO-MINUTE WARNING

After the two-minute warning of a half, the following shall apply:

(a) If a team has not used its three charged team timeouts, the team of the injured player will be charged a team timeout, unless:

  1. the injury is the result of a foul by an opponent; or
  2. the injury occurs during a down in which there is a change of possession, a touchdown, a safety, a successful field goal, or an attempted Try.

(b) If a team has used its three charged team timeouts, an excess team timeout shall be called by the Referee, unless:

  1. the injury is the result of a foul by an opponent; or
  2. the injury occurs during a down in which there is a change of possession, a touchdown, a safety, a successful field goal, or an attempted Try.

(c) The player must leave the game for the completion of one down, unless:

  1. the injury is the result of a foul by an opponent; or
  2. either team calls a charged team timeout other than an excess timeout.

Penalty: For the second and each subsequent excess team timeout after the two-minute warning: Loss of five yards from the succeeding spot for delay of the game.

Notes:

  1. No yardage penalty will be assessed for the first excess team timeout, but a 10-second runoff of the game clock may be applicable pursuant to Note 3 below. At the conclusion of an excess timeout taken while time is in, the game clock shall start with the ready-for play signal. For any excess timeout charged to the defense, the play clock is reset to 35 seconds.
  2. If the Referee has already called an excess team timeout in that half for a team, any subsequent excess timeout for that team will result in a five-yard penalty, and a 10-second runoff of the game clock may be applicable pursuant to Note 3 below. (Such penalty shall be considered a foul between downs and will not offset a foul or be part of a multiple foul.)
  3. If an excess team timeout is charged against a team in possession of the ball, and the timeout causes the clock to stop or delays the clock from starting on the ready for play signal, the ball shall not be put in play until the time on the game clock has been reduced by 10 seconds if the defense so chooses.

Supplemental Notes:

  1. Either half can end as the result of the 10-second runoff referenced above.
  2. If an injury timeout is called for both teams during or after a down, charged team timeouts and/or excess team timeouts are charged as appropriate, but no yardage or 10-second runoff penalties shall be enforced.
  3. If a foul by either team occurs during a down in which there is also an injury, such foul does not affect the charging of an excess timeout, but it does prevent a 10-second runoff that may result from the excess timeout, because the foul stopped the clock.
  4. The UFL deprecates feigning injuries, with subsequent withdrawal, to obtain a timeout without penalty. Coaches are urged to cooperate in discouraging this practice.
  5. There can never be a 10-second runoff against the defensive team.
  6. See Rule 16 (Sudden-Death Procedures) for application to overtime games.

REFEREE’S TIMEOUT

Provided that calling timeout is not in conflict with another rule, the Referee may suspend play and stop the clock (Referee’s timeout) at any time without penalty to either team when playing time is being consumed because of an unintentional delay. Such situations include, but are not limited to:

(a) when there is the possibility of a measurement for a first down, or if the Referee is consulting with a captain about one;

(b) when there is an undue pileup on the runner, or while determining possession after a fumble while time is in;

(c) when there is an undue delay by officials in spotting the ball for the next snap;

(d) if the snap is made before the officials can assume their positions;

(e) when there is an injury to an official or member of the chain crew;
(f) during an officials’ conference; or

(g) while repairing or replacing game equipment, except player equipment.

After a Referee’s timeout, the game clock will start pursuant to Rule 4, Section 3, as if the Referee’s timeout had not occurred.

The time remaining on the play clock shall be the same as when it stopped.

DELAY OF GAME

35-SECOND PLAY CLOCK

It is a delay of the game if the ball is not put in play by a snap within 35 seconds after the start of the play clock. The play clock operator shall time the interval between plays upon signals from game officials. The 35-second interval starts when a play ends, unless Article 2 below applies.

25-SECOND PLAY CLOCK

In the event of certain administrative stoppages or other delays, a team will have 25 seconds, beginning with the Referee’s whistle, to put the ball in play next by a snap or a kick. Such stoppages include, but are not limited to:

(a) a change of possession;

(b) a charged team timeout;

(c) the two-minute warning;

(d) the expiration of a period;

(e) a penalty enforcement;

(f) a Try;

(g) a Free Kick;

(h) a Fair Catch Kick; or

(i) replay administration pursuant to Rule 13, Section 3, Article 9, if the play clock is under 25 seconds.

A 25-second interval will be used in these situations, even if the 35-second clock is already counting down.

Note: Following a Try or successful field-goal attempt, unless there is a commercial break, the teams will have 35 seconds to align prior to the ball being made ready for play. When the 35 seconds have elapsed, the 25-second play clock will begin.

INTERRUPTION OF PLAY CLOCK

If the play clock is stopped prior to the snap for any reason, after the stoppage has concluded, the time remaining on the play clock shall be the same as when it stopped, unless:

(a) the stoppage has been for a charged team timeout, the two-minute warning, the expiration of a period, a penalty enforcement, or an Instant Replay review prior to the two-minute warning, in which case the play clock shall be reset to 25 seconds;

(b) the stoppage has been for an Instant Replay review that results in a reversal, in which case the play clock shall be reset to 35 seconds, unless another rule requires otherwise;

(c) the stoppage has been for an excess timeout while time is in that is charged to the defense, in which case the play clock shall be reset to 35 seconds; or

(d) fewer than 10 seconds remain on the play clock, in which case it shall be reset to 10 seconds, or the exact time on the play clock at the discretion of the Referee.

BALL REMAINS DEAD

If the ball is not put in play within the applicable period, the Back Judge shall blow his whistle for the foul, and the ball remains dead.

OTHER DELAY OF GAME FOULS

Other examples of action or inaction that are to be construed as delay of the game include, but are not limited to:

(a) a player unnecessarily remains on a dead ball or on a runner who has been downed;

(b) the snapper repeatedly snaps the ball after the neutral zone is established and before all the officials have had a reasonable time to assume their positions;

(c) undue delay by either team in assembling after a timeout;

(d) a defensive player aligned in a stationary position within one yard of the line of scrimmage makes quick and abrupt actions that are not a part of normal defensive player movement and are an obvious attempt to cause an offensive player(s) to foul (false start). (The officials shall blow their whistles immediately.) If the defender is walking or running toward the line of scrimmage in an effort to time the snap, but stops abruptly because the snap is not made, it is not a foul for delay of game;

(e) spiking or throwing the ball in the field of play after a down has ended, except after a score;

(f) intentional contact with the football to delay the snap or the officials’ ability to make the ball ready for play; or

(g) when a timeout is erroneously granted.

Penalty: For delay of the game: Loss of five yards:

(a) from the succeeding spot if it occurs between downs. The ball remains dead; or

(b) from the previous spot if the ball was in play.

ACTIONS TO CONSERVE TIME

ILLEGAL ACTS

A team is not permitted to conserve time after the two-minute warning of either half by committing any of these acts:

(a) a foul by either team that prevents the snap (i.e., false start, encroachment, etc.);

(b) intentional grounding;

(c) an illegal forward pass;

(d) throwing a backward pass out of bounds;

(e) spiking or throwing the ball in the field of play after a down has ended, except after a touchdown; or

(f) any other intentional foul that causes the clock to stop.

Penalty: For Illegally Conserving Time: Loss of five yards unless a larger distance penalty is applicable.

When actions referred to above are committed by the offensive team while time is in, officials will run off 10 seconds from the game clock before permitting the ball to be put in play on the ready-for-play signal. The game clock will start on the ready-for-play signal unless another rule prescribes otherwise. If the offensive team has timeouts remaining, it will have the option of using a timeout in lieu of a 10-second runoff, in which case the game clock will start on the snap after the timeout. The defense always has the option to decline the 10-second runoff and have the yardage penalty enforced, but if the yardage penalty is declined, the 10-second runoff is also declined.

If the action is by the defense, the play clock will be reset to 35 seconds, and the game clock will start on the ready signal, unless the offense chooses to have the clock start on the snap. If the defense has timeouts remaining, it will have the option of using a timeout in lieu of the game clock being started.

Notes:

  1. Two successive penalties when time is in is unsportsmanlike conduct. After enforcement of the 15-yard penalty, the game clock shall start on the snap.
  2. Certain acts of delay may involve stopping the game clock immediately. Repeated violations of the substitution rule to conserve time are unsportsmanlike conduct.

SUBSTITUTION VIOLATION AFTER TWO-MINUTE WARNING

After the two-minute warning of either half, if there is a violation of the substitution rule while the ball is dead and time is in, in addition to the applicable yardage penalty for illegal substitution, there will be a 10-second runoff pursuant to Article 1 above, unless it is obvious that the offensive team is not attempting to conserve time.

Penalty: For Illegal Substitution: Loss of five yards (unless a larger distance penalty is applicable) and a 10-second runoff.

DEFENSIVE FOULS DURING LAST 35 SECONDS

In the last 35 seconds of either half, if there is a defensive foul prior to the snap while time is in, the half will end, unless the defense has timeouts remaining, or the offense chooses to have the Game Clock start on the snap.

REPLAY REVIEW AFTER TWO-MINUTE WARNING OF HALF

If a replay review after the two-minute warning of either half results in the on-field ruling being reversed and the correct ruling would not have stopped the game clock, the officials will run 10 seconds off the game clock and reset the play clock to 25 seconds before making the ball ready for play. Neither team can decline the runoff, but either team can use a remaining timeout to prevent it.

EXTENSION OF A PERIOD OR A HALF

BALL IN PLAY

If time expires at the end of any period while the ball is in play, the period continues until the down ends.

PERIOD EXTENDED

At the election of the opponent, a period may be extended for one untimed down, if any of the following occurs during a down during which time in the period expires, or during which the period had been extended pursuant to this article:

(a) If there is a live-ball foul by the defensive team that is accepted, the offensive team may choose to extend the period by an untimed down after enforcement of the penalty. If the first or third period is not so extended, any accepted penalty is enforced before the start of the succeeding period.

(b) If there is a foul by the offense, there shall be no extension of the period. If the foul occurs on the last play of the half, a score by the offense is not counted. However, the period may be extended for an untimed down, upon the request of the defense, if the offensive team’s foul is for:

  1. illegal touching of a kick;
    Note: The period may also be extended for a “first touching” violation.
  2. fair-catch interference;
  3. a palpably unfair act;
  4. a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct foul committed during a down prior to a safety, an interception of a forward pass, the recovery of a backward pass or fumble, or the offensive team failing to reach the line to gain on fourth down; or
  5. a foul by the kicking team prior to a player of the receiving team securing possession of
    the ball during a down in which there is a safety kick, a scrimmage kick, or a free kick.

(c) If a touchdown is made on the last play of a period, the Try attempt shall be made unless the touchdown is scored during a down in which time in the fourth period expires, and a successful Try would not affect the outcome of the game.

(d) If no fair-catch signal is given and the kickers interfere with the receiver’s opportunity to catch a kick, the receiving team may extend the period by a down from scrimmage.

(e) If a fair-catch is signaled and made, the receivers may choose to extend the period by a fair catch kick down. If the first or third period is not so extended, the receivers may start the succeeding period by either a down from scrimmage or fair-catch kick.

(f) If a fair catch is signaled and the kickers interfere with a receiver’s opportunity to catch a kick, the receiving team may extend the period by either a down from scrimmage or a fair catch kick.

(g) If a safety results from a foul during the last play of a half, the score counts. A safety kick is made if requested by the receivers.

(h) If a double foul occurs during the last down of either half, the period shall be extended by an untimed down.
Exceptions: The half is not extended if:

  1. both fouls are dead-ball fouls
  2. there is a major-minor double foul (“5 vs. 15”), and the major foul is by the offense, or if the major foul is a dead ball foul by the defense.
    Note: Dead ball, personal, unsportsmanlike conduct, or taunting fouls by either team at the end of a half are enforced on the ensuing kickoff. No penalties carry over to an overtime period, but a player who commits a personal or unsportsmanlike conduct foul at the end of regulation with the score tied will be suspended for the next Try attempt series.
  3. The only foul by the defense is a dead ball foul (“clean hands end of half,”); or
  4. there is a double foul with a change of possession (“clean hands” rule) that does not involve a replay of the down. If a double foul occurs on the last play of the first or third periods, the period is not extended. If the first or third period is extended for any reason, or if a touchdown occurs during the last play of such a period, any additional play, including a Try attempt, shall be completed before the teams change goals. There may be more than one untimed down at the end of a period pursuant to this article.

RULE 5 | PLAYERS, SUBSTITUTES, AND EQUIPMENT

PLAYERS

NUMBER OF PLAYERS

The game is played by two teams of 11 players each. If Team A has more than 11 players in its formation for more than three seconds, or if Team B has more than 11 players in its formation and the snap is imminent, it is a foul. Once the ball is made ready for play, if either team has more than 11 players in its formation prior to a free kick, it is also a foul. In these instances, game officials shall blow their whistles immediately and not allow the snap or kick to occur.

Penalty: For more than 11 players in the formation prior to the snap or free kick: Loss of five yards from the succeeding spot.

If a team has more than 11 players on the field of play or the end zone when a snap, free kick, or fair-catch kick is made, the ball is in play, and it is a foul.

Penalty: For more than 11 players on the field of play or the end zone while the ball is in play: Loss of five yards from the previous spot.

Note: It is not a foul if a team has fewer than 11 players on the field of play or the end zone when a snap, free kick, or fair-catch kick is made.

PLAYERS NUMBERED BY POSITION

All players must wear numerals on their jerseys in accordance with Rule 5, Section 4, Article 3, Item 3. Such numerals must be by playing position, as follows:

(a) quarterbacks: 0-19
(b) punters and placekickers: 0–49 and 90-99;
(b) defensive backs: 0–49;
(c) running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, H-backs, and wide receivers: 0-49 and 80-89
(d) offensive linemen: 50–79;
(e) defensive linemen: 50–79 and 90–99;
(f) linebackers: 0–59 and 90–99.

If a player changes his position during his playing career in the UFL, and such change moves him from a position as an ineligible pass receiver to that of an eligible pass receiver, or from a position as an eligible pass receiver to that of an ineligible pass receiver, he must be issued an appropriate new jersey numeral. A change in jersey numeral is not required if the change is from an ineligible position to another ineligible position, or from an eligible position to another eligible position, provided that the player has participated at least one season at his position prior to the change.

Any request to wear a numeral for a special position not specified above (e.g., H-back) must be made to the Football Operations Department.

SECTION 2 SUBSTITUTES AND WITHDRAWN PLAYERS (5-2)

ARTICLE 1. NUMBER OF PLAYERS IN HUDDLE. (5-2-1)

There can never be more than 11 players in the offensive huddle while the play clock is running.
It is a foul, the whistle is blown immediately, and the ball remains dead.
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ARTICLE 2. SUBSTITUTE BECOMES PLAYER. (5-2-2)
A substitute becomes a player when he:
(a) participates in at least one play (including a play negated by penalty prior to the snap or
during the play)
(b) is on the field of play or the end zone when a snap, fair-catch kick, or free kick is made, or
when a snap, fair-catch kick, or free kick is imminent.
A player becomes a substitute when he is withdrawn from the game and does not participate in
at least one play. A play negated by penalty prior to the snap or during the play counts as a
missed play.
ARTICLE 3. LEGAL SUBSTITUTIONS. (5-2-3)
Any number of substitutes may enter the field of play or the end zone while the ball is dead.
ARTICLE 4. ILLEGAL SUBSTITUTIONS. (5-2-4)
If a substitute enters the field of play or the end zone while the ball is in play, it is an illegal
substitution. If an illegal substitute interferes with the play, it may be a palpably unfair act.
ARTICLE 5. OFFENSIVE SUBSTITUTIONS. (5-2-5)
The following are applicable to any offensive substitute who is entering the game:
(a) He must move onto the field of play or the end zone as far as the inside of the field numerals
prior to the snap to be a legal substitution. If he does not and is on the field of play or end
zone at the time of a legal snap, he is an illegal substitute.
(b) If he approaches the huddle and communicates with a teammate, he is required to
participate in at least one play before being withdrawn. After a warning, subsequent
violations of this rule shall be penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Note: The intent of the rule is to prevent teams from using simulated substitutions to confuse
an opponent, while still permitting a player (or players) to enter and leave without
participating in a play in certain situations, such as a change in a coaching decision on fourth
down, even though he has approached the huddle and communicated with a teammate.
Similarly, if a player who participated in the previous play leaves the playing field by mistake,
and returns to the playing field prior to the snap, he is not required to reach the inside of the
field numerals, provided the defense has the opportunity to match up with him. However, a
substitute (i.e., someone who did not participate in the previous play) is required to reach the
inside of the field numerals.
ARTICLE 6. WITHDRAWN PLAYERS. (5-2-6)
A player or players who have been replaced must leave the playing field or end zone on their
own team’s side between the end lines prior to the next snap, free kick, or fair-catch kick.
ARTICLE 7. DISQUALIFIED AND SUSPENDED PLAYERS. (5-2-7)
A player must be withdrawn and substituted for when he is disqualified. A suspended player
may re-enter after at least one legal snap, provided that the reason for his suspension has been
corrected. A disqualified player must leave the playing field enclosure and go to the team locker
room within a reasonable time.
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ARTICLE 8. PENALTIES FOR ILLEGAL SUBSTITUTION OR WITHDRAWAL. (5-2-8)
Penalties are:
(a) For 12 or more players in the offensive huddle (whistle blown immediately and ball remains
dead): Loss of five yards from the succeeding spot.
(b) For a substitute entering the field during a live ball: Loss of five yards.
(c) For interference with the play by a substitute who enters the field during a live ball: Palpably
unfair act.
(d) For an offensive substitute who does not move onto the field as far as the inside of the field
numerals: Loss of five yards from the previous spot.
(e) For a withdrawn player clearing the field on the opponents’ side or across an end line: Loss
of five yards from the previous spot.
(f) For illegal return of a suspended player: Loss of five yards from the previous spot if
discovery is made while the ball is in play, or five yards from the succeeding spot if
discovered between downs, in which case the ball remains dead.
(g) For return of a disqualified player: Loss of 15 yards from the previous spot if discovery is
made while the ball is in play, or 15 yards from the succeeding spot if discovered between
downs, in which case the ball remains dead, and, in either case, exclusion from the playing
field enclosure.
Note: If the illegal return of a player is not discovered until the end of a down, but prior to the
start of the next one, enforcement is from the previous spot when definitely known.
Otherwise, enforcement is from the succeeding spot as a foul between downs.
ARTICLE 9. FOLLOWING TIMEOUT OR CHANGE OF POSSESSION. (5-2-9)
Following a timeout or change of possession, the offense may huddle outside the numbers near
its bench area but will not be allowed to line up and snap the ball before the defense has an
opportunity to match personnel. If the offense snaps the ball before the defense has had an
opportunity to complete its substitutions, and a defensive foul for too many players on the field
results, no penalties will be enforced, except for personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct
fouls, and the down will be replayed. At this time, the Referee will notify the head coach that any
further use of this tactic will result in a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Penalty: For Unsportsmanlike Conduct after a warning: Loss of 15 yards from the
succeeding spot.
ARTICLE 10. DEFENSIVE MATCHUPS FOLLOWING SUBSTITUTIONS. (5-2-10)
If a substitution is made by the offense, the offense shall not be permitted to snap the ball until
the defense has been permitted to respond with its substitutions. While in the process of a
substitution (or simulated substitution), the offense is prohibited from rushing quickly to the line
of scrimmage and snapping the ball in an obvious attempt to cause a defensive foul (i.e., too
many men on the field). If the offense substitutes, the following procedure will apply:
(a) The Umpire will stand over the ball until the Referee deems that the defense has had a
reasonable time to complete its substitutions.
(b) If the offense snaps the ball before the defense has had an opportunity to complete its
substitutions, and a defensive foul for too many players on the field results, no penalties will
be enforced, except for personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct, and the down will be
replayed. At this time, the Referee will notify the head coach that any further use of this tactic
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will result in a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. The game clock will be reset to the time
remaining when the snap occurred, and the clock will start on the snap.
Note: The quick-snap rule does not apply after the two-minute warning of either half, or if
there is not a substitution by the offense.
(c) On a fourth-down punting situation, the Referee and the Umpire will not allow a quick snap
that prevents the defense from having a reasonable time to complete its substitutions. This
applies throughout the entire game.
(d) If the play clock expires before the defense has completed its substitution, it is delay of game
by the offense.
ARTICLE 11. UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT. (5-2-11)
Using entering substitutes, legally returning players, substitutes on sidelines, or withdrawn
players to confuse opponents, or lingering by players leaving the field when being replaced by a
substitute, is unsportsmanlike conduct. The offense is prevented from sending simulated
substitutions onto the field toward its huddle and returning them to the sideline without
completing the substitution in an attempt to confuse the defense.
Penalty: For Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Loss of 15 yards from the succeeding spot.
SECTION 3 CHANGES IN POSITION (5-3)
ARTICLE 1. REPORTING CHANGE OF POSITION. (5-3-1)
An offensive player wearing the number of an ineligible pass receiver (50–79 and 90–99) is
permitted to line up in the position of an eligible pass receiver (1–49 and 80–89), and an
offensive player wearing the number of an eligible pass receiver is permitted to line up in the
position of an ineligible pass receiver, provided that he immediately reports the change in his
eligibility status to the Referee, who will inform the defensive team.
He must participate in such eligible or ineligible position as long as he is continuously in the
game, but prior to each play he must again report his status to the Referee, who will inform the
defensive team. The game clock shall not be stopped, and the ball shall not be put in play until
the Referee takes his normal position.
Note: An offensive player wearing the number of an eligible pass receiver who reports as
ineligible must line up within the normal five-player core formed by ineligible players. The
player cannot be more than two players removed from the middle player of a seven-player
line.
ARTICLE 2. RETURNING TO ORIGINAL POSITION. (5-3-2)
A player who has reported a change in his eligibility status to the Referee is permitted to return
to a position indicated by the eligibility status of his number provided he reports the position
change to the Referee or after:
(a) a team time out;
(b) the end of a quarter;
(c) the two-minute warning;
(d) a foul;
(e) a replay review;
(f) a touchdown;
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(g) a completed kick from scrimmage;
(h) a change of possession; or
(i) if the player has been withdrawn for one legal snap. A player withdrawn for one legal snap
may re-enter at a position indicated by the eligibility status of his number, unless he again
reports to the Referee that he is assuming a position other than that designated by the
eligibility status of his number.
Penalty: If a player fails to notify the Referee of a change in his status when required, or
an offensive player with an eligible number reports as ineligible and lines up outside the
tackle box: Loss of five yards for illegal substitution.
ARTICLE 3. SPEAKERS IN HELMETS. (5-3-3)
The Coach-to-Player system allows a member of the coaching staff in the bench area or the
coaches’ booth to communicate with designated offensive or defensive players with speakers in
their helmet. The communication may occur at any point throughout the game.
Penalty: If a player fails to notify the Referee of a change in his status when required:
Loss of five yards for illegal substitution.
SECTION 4 EQUIPMENT, UNIFORMS, PLAYER APPEARANCE (5-4)
ARTICLE 1. GENERAL POLICY. (5-4-1)
Throughout the game-day period while in view of the stadium and television audience, including
during team pregame warm-ups, all players must dress in a professional manner under the
uniform standards. The helmet and mandatory padding referenced in Article 3 below are
intended to provide reasonable protection to a player while reasonably avoiding risk of injury to
other players. The development of Playing Rules should be governed by this Article. Players
generally must present an appearance that is appropriate to representing their individual clubs
and the UFL. The term uniform, as used in this policy, applies to every piece of equipment worn
by a player, including helmet, shoulder pads, thigh pads, knee pads, and any other item of
protective gear, and to every visible item of apparel, including but not limited to pants, jerseys,
wristbands, gloves, game socks and/or leg coverings, shoes, visible undergarments, and
accessories such as headwear worn under helmets and hand towels. All visible items worn on
game day by players must be issued by the club or the League, or, if from outside sources, must
have approval in advance by the League office.
ARTICLE 2. MANDATORY EQUIPMENT, APPAREL. (5-4-2)
Pursuant to the official colors established for each UFL club in the League guidelines, playing
squads are permitted to wear only those colors or a combination of those colors for helmets,
jerseys, pants, and game socks and/or leg coverings; provided that white is also an available
color for jerseys and mandatory color for the lower portion of game socks and/or leg coverings.
Each player on a given team must wear the same colors on his uniform as all other players on
his team in the same game. Home clubs shall choose their jersey color (either white or official
team color) and visiting clubs must wear the opposite. For preseason, regular season, or
postseason games, the two competing teams may wear jerseys in their official colors (nonwhite), provided the Football Operations Department determines that such colors are of
sufficient contrast.
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ARTICLE 3. (5-4-3)
All players must wear the equipment and uniform apparel listed below, which must be of a
suitably protective nature, must be designed and produced by a professional manufacturer, and
must not be cut, reduced in size, or otherwise altered unless for medical reasons approved in
advance by the Football Operations Department . During pregame team warm-ups, players may
omit certain protective equipment at their option, except that helmets, shoulder pads, thigh pads,
and knee pads must be worn.
Item 1. Helmet, Face Protectors. Helmet with all points of the chin strap (white only) fastened
and facemask attached. Facemasks must not be more than ⅝-inch in diameter and must be
made of rounded material; transparent materials are prohibited. Clear (transparent) plastic eye
shields are optional. Tinted eye shields may be worn only after the League office is supplied
with appropriate medical documentation and approval is subsequently granted. The League
office has final approval. No visible identification of a manufacturer’s name or logo on the
exterior of a helmet or on any attachment to a helmet is permitted unless provided for under a
commercial arrangement between the League and manufacturer; in no event is identification of
any helmet manufacturer permitted on the visible surface of a rear cervical pad. All helmets
must carry a small UFL shield logo on the rear lower-left exterior, and an approved warning
label on the rear lower-right exterior. Both labels will be supplied in quantity by the League
office.
Item 2. Jerseys. Jersey must cover all pads and other protective equipment worn on the torso
and upper arms and must be appropriately tailored to remain tucked into the uniform pants
throughout the game. Jerseys are permitted to be hemmed but the length must be long enough
to cover the waist area. Skin exposure due to improperly wearing jerseys is prohibited at all
times throughout the game. Tear-away jerseys are prohibited. Mesh jerseys with large fishnet
material (commonly referred to as “bullet-hole” or “port-hole” mesh) are also prohibited.
Surnames of players in letters a minimum of 2½ inches high must be affixed to the exterior of
jerseys across the upper back above the numerals; nicknames are prohibited. All jerseys must
carry a small UFL Shield logo at the middle of the yoke of the neck on the front of the garment.
All fabrics must be approved by the League office prior to production.
Item 3. Numerals. Numerals on the back and front of jerseys as specified under UFL rules for
the player’s specific position. Such numerals must be a minimum of 8 inches high and 4 inches
wide, and their color must be in sharp contrast with the color of the jersey. Smaller numerals
should be worn on the tops of the shoulders or upper arms of the jersey. Small numerals on the
back of the helmet or on the uniform pants are optional.
Item 4. Pants. Pants must be worn over the entire knee area; pants shortened or rolled up to
meet the stockings above the knee are prohibited. No part of the pants may be cut away unless
an appropriate gusset or other device is used to replace the removed material. All pants must
carry a small UFL Shield logo on the front left groin area of the pants, midway between the fly
opening and side seam, and ½-inch below the belt.
Item 5. Shoulder Pads, Thigh Pads, and Knee Pads. Shoulder pads, thigh pads, and knee
pads which have been approved by the League office. All pads must be covered by the outer
uniform. Knee pads must be at least ¼-inch thick and must cover the knees. Basketball-type
knee pads are permitted, but must be covered by the outer uniform. Punters and placekickers
may omit thigh and knee pads.
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Item 6. Game Socks and/or Leg Coverings. Game socks and/or leg coverings must cover the
entire area from the shoe to the bottom of the pants and must meet the pants below the knee.
Players are permitted to wear as many layers of game socks and/or leg coverings and tape on
the lower leg as they prefer, provided the exterior is either a: (a) one-piece game sock and/or
leg covering that includes solid white from the top of the shoe to the mid-point of the lower leg,
and approved team color or colors (non-white) from that point to the top of the game sock and/or
leg covering; or (b) solid color game sock and/or leg covering (i.e., entire covering from bottom
of pant leg to top of shoe), but all players must be in the same covering style and color in any
particular game. Solid game socks and/or leg coverings must be a consistent color from the
bottom of the pant leg to the top of the shoe. Uniform game socks and/or leg coverings may not
be altered (e.g., over-stretched, cut at the toes, or sewn short) in order to bring the line between
solid white and team colors lower or higher than the mid-point of the lower leg. Skin exposure of
the lower leg and ankle area due to improper wear of game socks and/or leg coverings is
prohibited at all times throughout the game. No other game socks and/or leg coverings, and/or
opaque tape, may be worn over the one-piece, two-color uniform game socks. Barefoot punters
and placekickers may omit the game sock and/or leg covering of the kicking foot in preparation
for and during kicking plays.
Item 7. Shoes. Shoes must be of standard football design, including “sneaker” type shoes such
as basketball shoes, cross-training shoes, etc. Each team must designate a dominant base
color for its shoes, either black or white (with shoelace color conforming to the dominant base
color of the tongue area of the shoe). Each team must also designate one of its Constitutional
uniform colors as a dominant team color for its shoes. Each team must also designate one of its
Constitutional uniform colors as a secondary team color for its shoes. Each team may also
designate a third uniform color as a tertiary team color that may be used for accents on its
shoes. The designation of team shoe colors as described above must be reported by each team
to the League office no later than July 1 each year. Each player may select from shoe styles
previously approved by the League office. All players on the same team must wear shoes with
the same dominant base color. A player may wear an unapproved standard football shoe style
as long as the player tapes over the entire shoe to conform to his team’s selected dominant
base color (i.e., white or black). Logos, names, or other commercial identification on shoes are
not permitted to be visible unless advance approval is granted by the League office. Size and
location of logos and names on shoes must be approved by the League office. When a shoe
logo or name approved by the League is covered with an appropriate use of tape, players will be
allowed to cut out the tape covering the original logo or name, provided the cut is clean and is
the exact size of the logo or name. The logo or name of the shoe manufacturer must not be reapplied to the exterior of taped shoes unless advance approval is granted by the League office.
Kicking shoes must not be modified (including using a shoelace wrapped around toe and/or
bottom of the shoe), and any shoe that is worn by a player with an artificial limb on his kicking
leg must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe. Punters and
placekickers may omit the shoe from the kicking foot in preparation for and during kicking plays.
Punters and placekickers may wear any combination of the tri-colored shoes provided that the
colors are consistent with those selected by the team and with the policy listed above.
ARTICLE 4. OTHER PROHIBITED EQUIPMENT, APPAREL. (5-4-4)
In addition to the prohibited items of equipment and apparel specified above, the following also
are prohibited:
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Item 1. Projecting Objects. Metal or other hard objects that project from a player’s person or
uniform, including from his shoes.
Item 2. Uncovered Hard objects, Substances. Hard objects, exposed jewelry, and
substances, including but not limited to casts, guards or braces for hand, wrist, forearm, elbow,
hip, thigh, knee, and shin, unless such items are appropriately covered on all edges and
surfaces by a minimum of ⅜-inch foam rubber or similar soft material. Any such item worn to
protect an injury must not contain colors, designs, logos, or personal messages that are not
approved by the UFL, and must be reported by the applicable coaching staff to the Umpire in
advance of the game, and a description of the injury must be provided.
Item 3. Detachable Kicking Toe.
Item 4. Torn Items. Torn or improperly fitting equipment creating a risk of injury to other
players, e.g., the hard surfaces of shoulder pads exposed by a damaged jersey.
Item 5. Improper Cleats. Shoe cleats made of metal or other material that may chip, fracture,
or develop a cutting edge. Conical cleats with concave sides or points which measure less than
⅜-inch in diameter at the tips, or cleats with oblong ends which measure less than ¼ by ¾-inch
at the end tips are also prohibited. Nylon cleats with flat steel tips are permitted.
Item 6. Improper Tape. Opaque, contrasting-color tape that covers any part of the helmet,
jersey, pants, game socks and/or leg coverings, or shoes; transparent tape or tape of the same
color as the background material is permissible for use on these items of apparel. Players may
use opaque white, black or one dominant club color tape on hands and arms, provided it
conforms to above (“Uncovered Hard Objects, Substances”) and below (“Approved Glove
Color”). Opaque tape, either black or white on shoes, is permitted, provided it is black or white to
match the selected dominant shoe choice of the Club, and provided it does not carry up into the
game sock and/or leg covering area.
Item 7. Items Colored Like Football. Headgear or any other equipment or apparel which, in
the opinion of the Referee, may confuse an opponent because of its similarity in color to that of
the game football. If such color is worn, it must be broken by stripes or other patterns of sharply
contrasting color or colors.
Item 8. Adhesive, Slippery Substances. Adhesive or slippery substances on the body,
equipment, or uniform of any player; provided, however, that players may wear gloves with a
tackified surface if such tacky substance does not adhere to the football or otherwise cause
handling problems for players.
ARTICLE 5. RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT. (5-4-5)
It is recommended that all players wear hip pads designed to reasonably avoid the risk of injury.
Unless otherwise provided by individual team policy, it is the players’ responsibility and decision
whether to follow this recommendation and use such pads. If worn, such pads must be covered
by the outer uniform.
ARTICLE 6. OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT. (5-4-6)
Among the types of optional equipment that are permitted to be worn by players are the
following:
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Item 1. Garments Under Jerseys. Quarterbacks will be allowed to wear under the game jersey
a solid-colored T-shirt, turtleneck, or sweatshirt (consistent with team undergarment color) with
sleeves cut to any length, as long as both sleeves are evenly trimmed, and the edges are sewn
and hemmed. All other players may wear garments under game jerseys only if the
undergarment sleeves either (a) are full length to the wrist; or (b) are the half sleeve length as
provided by the licensee each of which must be approved by the UFL. Players may not wear
long-sleeved undergarments that include pebble-grip sleeves. Undergarments should be tucked
in the uniform pants. Any undergarment that is untucked must not hang out from the bottom of
the jersey, or the undergarment must be tucked in the uniform pants. Any garments under
jerseys that are exposed at any point throughout the game and that carry an exposed logo or
commercial name/identification must be licensed and approved by the League office for wear on
the field. Any garments under jerseys that are exposed at the neck or sleeve area and that carry
an exposed logo or commercial name/identification must be licensed and approved by the
League office for wear on the field. Undergarments must be tucked in and not hanging out from
the bottom of the jersey. All members of the same team who wear approved undergarments
with exposed necks or sleeves must wear the same color on a given day, which color must be
white or a solid color that is an official team color (solid means that sleeves must not carry
stripes, designs, or team names). Players may not wear undergarments with an exposed hood
hanging outside the collar of the jersey.
Item 2. Approved Glove Color. Gloves, wrappings, elbow pads, and other items worn on the
arms below or over the jersey sleeves must be white, black or an official uniform color of the
applicable team.
Item 3. Rib Protectors. Rib protectors (“flak jackets”) under the jersey.
Item 4. Wristbands. Wristbands, provided they are white, black, or an official uniform color of
the applicable team.
Item 5. Towels. Towels, provided they are white licensed towels approved by the League office
for use on the playing field. Players are prohibited from adding to these towels personal
messages, logos, names, symbols, or illustrations. Such towels also must be attached to or
tucked into the front waist of the pants and must be no longer than 6 by 8 inches (slightly larger
size may be issued to quarterbacks or may be folded to these limits for wearing in games). A
player may wear no more than one towel. Players are prohibited from discarding on the playing
field any loose towels or other materials used for wiping hands and the football. Streamers or
ribbons, regardless of length, hanging from any part of the uniform, including the helmet, are
prohibited.
Item 6. Headwear. When players are on the field, during the pregame, game, and postgame
periods, they may wear approved caps, skull caps and bands, approved cold weather gear, or
other approved headwear for medical purposes only, as determined by the Football Operations
Department . Any permissible headwear must be approved by the League office, and if worn
under the helmet, no portion may hang from or otherwise be visible outside the helmet. Players
are not permitted to wear bandannas, stockings, or other unapproved headwear anywhere on
the field during the pregame, game, or postgame periods, even if such items are worn under
their helmets.
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ARTICLE 7. LOGOS AND COMMERCIAL IDENTIFICATION. (5-4-7)
Throughout the period on game-day that a player is visible to the stadium and television
audience (including in pregame warm-ups, in the bench area, and during postgame interviews in
the locker room or on the field), players are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or orally
promoting equipment, apparel, or other items that carry commercial names or
logos/identifications of companies, unless such commercial identification has been approved in
advance by the League office. The size of any approved logo or other commercial identification
involved in an agreement between a manufacturer and the League will be modest and
unobtrusive, and there is no assurance that it will be visible to the television audience.
ARTICLE 8. PERSONAL MESSAGES. (5-4-8)
Throughout the period on game-day that a player is visible to the stadium and television
audience (including in pregame warm-ups, in the bench area, and during postgame interviews in
the locker room or on the field), players are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or otherwise
conveying personal messages either in writing or illustration, unless such message has been
approved in advance by the League office. Items to celebrate anniversaries or memorable
events, or to honor or commemorate individuals, such as helmet decals, and arm bands and
jersey patches on players’ uniforms, are prohibited unless approved in advance by the League
office. All such items approved by the League office, if any, must relate to team or League
events or personages. The League will not grant permission for any club or player to wear,
display, or otherwise convey messages, through helmet decals, arm bands, jersey patches,
mouthpieces, or other items affixed to game uniforms or equipment, which relate to political
activities or causes, other non-football events, causes or campaigns, or charitable causes or
campaigns. Further, any such approved items must be modest in size, tasteful, non-commercial,
and non-controversial; must not be worn for more than one football season; and if approved for
use by a specific team, must not be worn by players on other teams in the League.
ARTICLE 9. GENERAL APPEARANCE. (5-4-9)
Consistent with the equipment and uniform rules, players must otherwise present a professional
and appropriate appearance before the public on game-day. Among the types of activity that are
prohibited are use of tobacco products (smokeless included) while in the bench area and use of
facial makeup.
Penalties:
a) For violation of this Section 4 discovered during pregame warm-ups or at other times
prior to the game, player will be advised to make appropriate correction; if the
violation is not corrected, player will not be permitted to enter the game.
b) For violation of this Section 4 that is discovered while player is in the game, and
which involves the competitive or player safety aspects of the game (e.g., illegal
kicking toe of shoe, an adhesive or slippery substance, failure to wear mandatory
equipment), player will be removed from the game until he has complied.
c) For any other violation of this Section 4 (e.g., wristbands and mouthpieces that are
not League-approved, towel with a personal message, impermissible headwear under
the helmet) that is discovered while the player is in the game, player will be advised to
make appropriate correction at the next change of possession; if the violation is not
corrected, player will not be permitted to enter the game.
d) For violation of this Section 4 detected in the bench area: Player and head coach will
be asked to remove the objectionable item, properly equip the player, or otherwise
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correct the violation. The involved player or players will not be permitted to enter the
game until the player has complied.
e) For illegal entry or return of a player suspended under this Section 4: Loss of five
yards from succeeding spot and removal until properly equipped after one down.
f) For repeat violation: Disqualification from game.
Notes:
(1) In addition to the game-day penalties specified above, the League may subsequently
impose independent disciplinary action on the club and involved player, up to and
including suspension from the team’s next game—preseason, regular season, or
postseason, whichever is applicable.
(2) If a player is suspended for having adhesive or slippery substances on his body,
equipment, or uniform, he must remain out of the game for one play, even if there is a
team time out, the two-minute warning, or the end of a period.
(3) If a player (kicker) is suspended for having an illegal kicking shoe, he must remain out of
the game for one play, unless there is a team time out, the two-minute warning, or the
end of the period.
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RULE 6 FREE KICKS
SECTION 1 PROCEDURES FOR A FREE KICK (6-1)
ARTICLE 1. FREE KICK. (6-1-1)
A free kick is a kickoff or safety kick that puts the ball in play to start a free kick down. It must be
made from any point on the kicking team’s restraining line and between the inbounds lines.
(a) A kickoff puts the ball in play at the start of each half, after a try, and after a successful field
goal. A dropkick or placekick may be used for a kickoff.
Note: During a placekick on a kickoff, the kicking team may use a manufactured tee that is
one inch in height and approved by the League. Once the ball has been placed on the
kicking tee, the kicking tee cannot be moved. If the ball falls off the tee, the covering officials
must stop play and restart the timing process without penalty to the kicking team. If the ball
falls off the tee a second time during the same free kick down, the kicking team then must
either use a player to hold the ball or must kick it off the ground. The ball may be placed on
the ground leaning against the tee, provided the tee is in its normal upright position.
(b) A safety kick puts the ball in play after a safety. A dropkick, placekick or punt may be used
for a safety kick. A tee cannot be used for a safety kick.
ARTICLE 2. RESTRAINING LINES. (6-1-2)
The restraining lines for a free kick shall be as follows, unless they are adjusted because of a
distance penalty:
(a) The restraining line for the kicking team shall be its own 20-yard line for a kickoff and a
safety kick.
(b) The restraining line for the receiving team shall be the yard line 10 yards in advance of the
kicking team’s restraining line.
ARTICLE 3. FREE KICK FORMATION. (6-1-3)
When the ball is kicked on a free kick down:
(a) From the time the kicker begins his approach to the ball and until the ball is kicked,
(1) all kicking team players other than the kicker must be lined up with at least one foot on
the yard line that is one yard behind their restraining line, and both feet must remain on
the ground; and
(2) no more than five players of the kicking team may be on either side of the ball with a
holder counting as one of the five on either side.
(b) All kicking team players must be inbounds and behind the ball when it is kicked, except:
(1) the holder of a placekick may be beyond the line, and
(2) the kicker may be beyond the line, provided that his kicking foot is not beyond the line.
(c) Until the ball is kicked, all receiving team (Team B) players must be inbounds and behind
their restraining line, and at least eight, but no more than nine, players must be positioned
between their restraining line and a spot 10 yards behind their restraining line (the “setup
zone”).
Penalty: For a player being beyond the restraining line when the ball is kicked (offside), a
player being out of bounds when the ball is kicked, or either team being in an illegal
formation when the ball is kicked: Loss of five yards.
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(d) Prior to the ball being touched by the receiving team or the end of the kick, it is a foul if a
kicking team player voluntarily goes out of bounds (without being contacted by a receiving
team player) to avoid a block.
Penalty: For voluntarily going out of bounds without contact: Loss of 5 yards.
ARTICLE 4. CATCH OR RECOVERY OF A FREE KICK. (6-1-4)
The following applies to the catch or recovery of a free kick:
(a) If a player of the receiving team catches or recovers the ball he may advance.
(b) If the ball is declared dead while in the simultaneous possession of two opposing players,
the ball is awarded to the receiving team.
(c) A player of the kicking team may legally touch, catch, or recover the ball if:
(1) it first touches a receiving team player; or
(2) it reaches the receiving team’s restraining line.
Exception: If the ball reaches the yard line 20 yards in advance of the kicking team’s
restraining line untouched by the receiving team, any first touch by the kicking team is a
violation (see 9-2-2).
(d) The ball is dead if:
(1) it is caught or recovered by a player of the kicking team. If the catch or recovery is legal,
the ball belongs to the kicking team at the dead-ball spot.
(2) it is not touched by the receiving team and touches the ground in the end zone
(touchback).
(e) If the ball comes to rest anywhere on the field, and no player attempts to possess it, the ball
becomes dead and belongs to the receiving team at the dead-ball spot.
Note: A player is deemed to have not touched the ball if it is batted or illegally kicked into
him by an opponent. Such touching is ignored, though the bat or kick could be a foul
for an Illegal Bat or Illegal Kick.
ARTICLE 5. FREE KICK CROSSES GOAL LINE. (6-1-5)
It is a touchback, and the dead ball spot is the 25-yard line if a free kick:
(a) touches the ground in the end zone before being touched by the receiving team.
(b) goes out of bounds behind the receiving team’s goal line;
(c) strikes the receiving team’s goal post, uprights, or cross bar; or
(d) is downed in the end zone by the receiving team.
ARTICLE 6. END OF FREE KICK. (6-1-6)
A free kick ends when either team possesses the ball, or when the ball is dead, if that precedes
possession. A running play begins when the receiving team establishes possession of the ball.
SECTION 2 OTHER FREE KICK FOULS (6-2)
ARTICLE 1. BLOCKING. (6-2-1)
Item 1. Kicking Team.
(a) Between the Restraining Lines (10 Yards). Until the ball is legally touched, a kicking team
player may not block or use his hands or arms against an opponent between the restraining
lines, except to push or pull aside a receiver who is actively attempting to obstruct his
attempt to proceed downfield. After the ball is legally touched, a kicking team player may
43
legally block an opponent, and he may use his hands and arms to push or pull an opponent
out of the way in a personal attempt to recover the ball.
(b) At or Five Yards Beyond Receiving Team’s Restraining Line (Next Five Yards). Until
the ball is legally touched or touches the ground, a kicking team player may not block or use
his hands or arms against an opponent in the area that is at or no more than five yards
beyond the receiving team’s restraining line, except to push or pull aside a receiver who is
actively attempting to obstruct his attempt to proceed downfield. After the ball is legally
touched or touches the ground, a kicking team player may legally block an opponent
anywhere, and he may use his hands and arms to push or pull an opponent out of the way
in a personal attempt to recover the ball.
(c) More than 15 Yards Beyond Kicking Team’s Restraining Line. The kicking team may
legally block more than 15 yards beyond its restraining line.
During the kick, the kicking team is subject to the blocking restrictions of the defense.
Item 2. Receiving Team.
(a) First 15 Yards. Until the ball is legally touched or the ball hits the ground, no player on the
receiving team may initiate a block against the kicking team in the 15-yard area between the
kicking team’s restraining line and five yards behind the receiving team’s restraining line.
(b) More than 15 Yards Beyond Kicking Team’s Restraining Line. The receiving team may
legally block more than 15 yards beyond the kicking team’s restraining line.
(c) After the ball is kicked, receiving team players are subject to the blocking restrictions of the
offense and they may use their hands/arms legally to push or pull an opponent out of the way
in a personal attempt to recover the ball.
Penalty: For illegal blocking or use of hands by either team: Loss of 10 yards.
(d) A “double team block” is permissible only by players who were initially lined up in the setup
zone at the time of the kick. A double team block is defined as two or more players who
contact an opponent at the same time. Any other players may not participate in a double
team block at any time during a kick or during a return.
(e) A “wedge block” is not permitted by any players at any time. A wedge block is defined as two
or more players intentionally aligning shoulder-to-shoulder within two yards of each other,
and who move forward together. The foul for a wedge block occurs at that point; actual
contact with an opponent is not necessary.
Penalty: For an illegal wedge block or an illegal double team block: Loss of 15 yards. If
the foul occurs during the kick, enforcement is from the spot of the foul. If the foul
occurs during the return, the penalty is enforced as customary. If the foul occurs in the
receiving team’s end zone during the kick, it is enforced from the previous spot.
ARTICLE 2. RUNNING INTO FREE KICKER. (6-2-2)
A player of the receiving team is not permitted to run into the kicker before he recovers his
balance. See also 12-2-8-i for personal fouls against the kicker.
Penalty: For running into the kicker: Loss of five yards.
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ARTICLE 3. FREE KICK OUT OF BOUNDS. (6-2-3)
The kicking team may not kick the ball out of bounds or be the last to touch the ball before it
goes out of bounds between the goal lines. If the receiving team is the last to touch the ball
before it goes out of bounds, the receiving team puts the ball in play at the inbounds spot.
Penalty: For a kickoff out of bounds: The receiving team may elect to take possession of
the ball 30 yards from the spot of the kick at the inbounds line on the side of the field
where the ball went out of bounds, or at the out-of-bounds spot.
ARTICLE 4. FREE KICK ILLEGALLY TOUCHED. (6-2-4)
Item 1. Ball Reaches Restraining Line. A player of the kicking team may not touch, catch, or
recover the ball before it has reached the receiving team’s restraining line, unless it has first
been touched by a receiving team player.
Penalty: For illegal touching of a free kick by the kicking team: Loss of five yards, or the
receiving team takes possession of the ball at the spot of the illegal touch.
Item 2. Player Out of Bounds. If a kicking team player goes out of bounds during the kick,
either of his own volition or by being legally forced out of bounds, he may not touch or recover
the ball beyond the receiving team’s restraining line, unless it has first been touched by a
receiving team player. If a kicking team player touches the ball before re-establishing himself
legally inbounds, it is a free kick out of bounds.
Penalty: For illegal touching of a free kick by the kicking team: Loss of five yards.
SECTION 3 ENFORCEMENT OF FOULS (6-3)
ARTICLE 1. ENFORCEMENT FROM PREVIOUS SPOT. (6-3-1)
If there is a foul during a free kick, enforcement is from the previous spot, and the free kick is
made again. However, if the kicking team commits a foul prior to the end of the kick, and the
receiving team retains possession throughout the down, it will have the option of enforcing the
penalty at the previous spot and replaying the down or adding the penalty yardage to the deadball spot. The dead ball spot for free kicks that result in a touchback is the 25-yard line.
Exceptions:
(a) A personal foul (blocking) after a fair catch signal is enforced from the spot of the foul or the
previous spot if it occurs in Team B’s end zone;
(b) A foul for fair catch interference is enforced from the spot of the foul;
(c) A foul for interference with the opportunity to make a catch is enforced from the spot of the
foul;
(d) A foul for an invalid fair catch signal is enforced from the spot of the foul or the previous spot
if it occurs in Team B’s end zone;
(e) A foul for an illegal double team block, or an illegal wedge block, during the kick is enforced
from the spot of the foul or the previous spot if it occurs in Team B’s end zone;
(f) For a free kick out of bounds, see Section 2, Article 3; or
(g) For a free kick illegally touched, see Section 2, Article 4.
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Note: In (a), (b), (c), and (e) above, if the foul is not part of a double foul and the opponent has
possession at the end of the down, the foul may be enforced from the dead ball spot.
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RULE 7 BALL IN PLAY
SECTION 1 BALL IN PLAY (7-1)
ARTICLE 1. LIVE BALL. (7-1-1)
After the ball has been declared ready for play, it becomes a live ball when it is legally snapped
or legally kicked (a free kick or fair catch kick). The ball remains dead if it is snapped or kicked
before it is made ready for play.
SECTION 2 DEAD BALL (7-2)
ARTICLE 1. DEAD BALL DECLARED. (7-2-1)
An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended:
(a) when a runner is contacted by an opponent and touches the ground with any part of his body
other than his hands or feet. The ball is dead the instant the runner touches the ground. A
runner touching the ground with his hands or feet while in the grasp of an opponent may
continue to advance; or
Note: If, after contact by an opponent, any part of a runner’s leg above the ankle or any part
of his arm above the wrist touches the ground, the runner is down.
(b) when a runner is held or otherwise restrained so that his forward progress ends;
(c) when a quarterback immediately drops to his knee (or simulates dropping to his knee)
behind the line of scrimmage;
Note: If a quarterback does not immediately drop to a knee, and contact from a rushing
defender is unavoidable, it is not a foul unless the defender commits some other act that
would constitute unnecessary roughness.
(d) when a runner declares himself down by:
(1) falling to the ground, or kneeling, and clearly making no immediate effort to advance.
Note: Any time it is clear a player with possession of the ball is making no attempt to
advance it, he will be deemed to have given himself up and the game officials should
blow the play dead immediately.
(2) sliding. When a runner slides feet first or simulates sliding, the ball is dead the instant he
touches the ground with anything other than his hands or his feet or begins to simulate
touching the ground.
(3) diving. When a runner dives headfirst, the ball is dead when he is down by contact or hits
the ground and comes to a complete stop.
Notes:
(1) Defenders are required to treat a sliding runner as they would a runner who is down by
contact.
(2) A defender must pull up when a runner begins a feet-first slide. This does not mean that
all contact by a defender is illegal. If a defender has already committed himself, and the
contact is unavoidable, it is not a foul unless the defender makes forcible contact into the
head or neck area of the runner with the helmet, shoulder, or forearm, or commits some
other act that is unnecessary roughness.
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(3) A runner who desires to take advantage of this protection is responsible for starting his
slide before contact by a defensive player is imminent; if he does not and waits until the
last moment to begin his slide, he puts himself in jeopardy of being contacted.
(e) when a runner is out of bounds;
(f) when an opponent takes a ball that is in the possession of a runner who is on the ground;
Note: An opponent may take or grab a ball (hand to hand) in possession of a runner who is
on his feet or is airborne.
(g) when a forward pass (legal or illegal) is incomplete;
(h) when any legal or illegal kick touches the receivers’ goal posts or crossbar, unless it scores a
field goal;
(i) when a loose ball comes to rest anywhere in the field, and no player attempts to recover it;
the official covering the play should pause momentarily before signaling that the ball is dead.
Any legal (or illegal) kick is awarded to the receivers, and any other ball is awarded to the
team last in possession. When awarded to a team behind a goal line, the ball is placed on
the one-yard line;
(j) when any legal or illegal kick is caught or recovered by the kickers, except a scrimmage kick
that is kicked from behind the line and is recovered behind the line (not a Try kick);
(k) when a touchdown, touchback, safety, field goal, or Try has been made;
(l) when any receiver catches or recovers the ball after a fair catch signal (valid or invalid) has
been made, provided the ball has not been touched by an opponent, before or after it strikes
the ground;
(m)when an official sounds the whistle erroneously while the ball is still in play, the ball becomes
dead immediately;
(1) If the ball is in player possession, the team in possession may elect to put the ball in play
where it has been declared dead or to replay the down.
(2) If the ball is a loose ball resulting from a fumble, backward pass, or illegal forward pass,
the team last in possession may elect to put the ball in play at the spot where possession
was lost or to replay the down.
(3) If the ball is a loose ball resulting from a legal forward pass, a free kick, a fair-catch kick,
or a scrimmage kick, the ball is returned to the previous spot, and the down is replayed.
(4) If there is a foul by either team during any of the above, and the team in possession at
the time of the erroneous whistle elects not to replay the down, penalty enforcement is
the same as for fouls during a run, forward pass, kick, fumble, and backward pass. If the
team in possession elects to replay the down, all penalties will be disregarded, except for
personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, which will be administered prior to the
replaying of the down. If the down is replayed, the game clock will be reset to the time
remaining when the snap occurred, and the clock will start on the snap.
(n) when a fumble is recovered or caught by a teammate of the fumbling player, and the fumble
occurs on a play that is subject to the “two-minute” or “fourth-down” fumble provisions;
(o) when the ball is out of bounds;
(p) if a loose ball in play strikes a video board, guide wire, sky cam, or any other object, the ball
will be dead immediately, and the down will be replayed at the previous spot; or
Notes:
(1) If there is not an on-field ruling that the ball struck an object, the ruling may be reviewed
by Instant Replay.
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(2) In the event the down is replayed, the game clock will be reset to the time remaining
when the snap occurred, and the clock will start on the snap. All penalties will be
disregarded, except for personal fouls or Unsportsmanlike Conduct fouls, which will be
administered prior to the replaying of the down.
(q) when a runner’s helmet comes completely off.
Note: The game clock will not stop when this occurs, and the play clock will be reset to 35
seconds. Penalty enforcement following the play is as ordinary for fouls during runs or kicks.
ARTICLE 2. BALL TOUCHES OFFICIAL. (7-2-2)
The ball is not dead because it touches an official who is inbounds, or because of a signal by an
official other than a whistle.
SECTION 3 NEW SERIES OF DOWNS (7-3)
ARTICLE 1. NEW SERIES FOR TEAM A. (7-3-1)
A new series of four scrimmage downs is awarded to Team A when the following conditions
exist:
(a) During a given series, the ball is declared dead in possession of Team A while at or beyond
the line to gain.
(b) Enforcement of a foul by Team B results in the placement of the ball at or beyond the line to
gain,
or if the enforcement of a foul awards an automatic first down to Team A.
(c) If there is a change of possession during the down, and Team A has possession at the end
of the down.
(d) The kicking team recovers a scrimmage kick anywhere in the field of play after it first has
been touched beyond the line of scrimmage by the receivers.
(e) The kicking team legally recovers a free kick.
ARTICLE 2. NEW SERIES FOR TEAM B. (7-3-2)
A new series of four scrimmage downs is awarded to Team B when the following conditions
exist:
(a) Team A fails to advance the ball to the line to gain during a series of downs; or
(b) There is a change of possession during the down, and Team B has possession at the end of
the down, or has been awarded possession at the end of the down; or
(c) When the ball is declared dead in possession of the receiving team after a free kick,
scrimmage kick, or fair-catch kick.
ARTICLE 3. FORWARD PART OF BALL. (7-3-3)
The forward part of the ball in its position when it is declared dead in the field of play shall be the
determining point in measuring any distance gained or lost. The ball shall be rotated so that its
long axis is parallel to the sidelines before measuring, while maintaining the forward most point.
Note: When an airborne player of either team completes a catch or interception inbounds
after an opponent has driven him backward, the ball is declared dead, and forward progress
is awarded at the spot where initial contact by the opponent was made after the player
established firm grip and control of the ball while in the air.
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SECTION 4 ACTION AT OR BEFORE THE SNAP (7-4)
ARTICLE 1. BALL READY FOR PLAY. (7-4-1)
After the neutral zone has been established (ball is made or declared ready for play), an
offensive player may not make a false start, a defensive player may not encroach (initiate
contact with a member of the offensive team) or commit a neutral zone infraction, and no player
of either team may be offside when the ball is put in play.
ARTICLE 2. FALSE START. (7-4-2)
It is a False Start if the ball has been placed ready for play, and, prior to the snap, an offensive
player who has assumed a set position charges or moves in such a way as to simulate the start
of a play, or if an offensive player who is in motion makes a sudden movement toward the line of
scrimmage. Any quick abrupt movement by a single offensive player, or by several offensive
players in unison, which simulates the start of the snap, is a false start.
Item 1. Interior Lineman. It is a False Start if an interior lineman (tackle to tackle) takes or
simulates a three-point stance, and then changes his position or moves the hand that is on the
ground.
An interior lineman who is in a two-point stance is permitted to reset in a three-point stance or
change his position, provided that he comes to a complete stop prior to the snap. If he does not
come to a complete stop prior to the snap, it is a False Start.
Item 2. Eligible Receiver. If all 11 offensive players have been set for at least one full second,
and an eligible receiver who is on the line of scrimmage moves forward, it is a False Start,
regardless of whether the action is quick and abrupt or slow and deliberate.
Any eligible receiver is permitted to change from a two-point stance to a three-point stance, or
from a three-point stance to a two-point stance, provided he comes to a complete stop prior to
the snap. If he does not come to a complete stop, it is a False Start.
Item 3. Player Under Center. It is legal for a player who has taken a position under or behind
the center to go in motion, whether he has placed his hands under center, on his knees, or on
the body of the center. However, it is a False Start if the action is quick and abrupt. If the player
fails to come to a complete stop for at least one full second prior to the ball being snapped, it is
Illegal Motion.
Item 4. Shotgun Formation. A player who is in position to receive the snap in shotgun
formation is permitted to shift his feet prior to the snap, but any quick and abrupt movement is a
False Start. This includes thrusting his hands forward when there is not a simultaneous snap.
Item 5. Attempt to Draw Offside. Any obvious attempt by the quarterback or other player in
position to receive the snap to draw an opponent offside is a False Start.
Item 6. Offense Not Set. With the game clock running after the two-minute warning of either
half, if all 11 offensive players are not set simultaneously for one full second prior to the snap, it
is a False Start.
Penalty: For a False Start: Loss of five yards from the line of scrimmage. The foul is
enforced prior to the snap.
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Note: The official shall blow the whistle immediately. The penalty for a False Start shall be
enforced regardless of whether the snap is made or there is a reaction by the defense.
ARTICLE 3. ENCROACHMENT. (7-4-3)
It is Encroachment if a defensive player enters the neutral zone and contacts an offensive player
or the ball prior to the snap, or if he interferes with the ball during the snap. The play is dead
immediately.
Penalty: For Encroachment: Loss of five yards from the line of scrimmage. The foul is
enforced prior to the snap.
ARTICLE 4. NEUTRAL ZONE INFRACTION. (7-4-4)
It is a Neutral Zone Infraction when:
(a) a defender moves beyond the neutral zone prior to the snap and is parallel to or beyond an
offensive lineman, with an unimpeded path to the quarterback or kicker, even though no
contact is made by a blocker; officials are to blow their whistles immediately
(b) a defender enters the neutral zone prior to the snap, causing the offensive player(s) in close
proximity (including a quarterback who is under center) to react (move) immediately to
protect himself (themselves) against impending contact; officials are to blow their whistles
immediately. If there is no immediate reaction by the offensive player(s) in close proximity,
and the defensive player returns to a legal position prior to the snap without contacting an
opponent, there is no foul. A flexed or split receiver is considered to be in close proximity if
he is lined up on the side of the ball on which the violation occurs; other offensive players are
considered to be in close proximity if they are within two-and-one-half positions of the
defender who enters the neutral zone. If the defender is directly over the center, a
quarterback under center, the center, and the guards and tackles on both sides of the center
are considered to be within close proximity; if the defender is in a gap, the two offensive
players on either side of the gap are considered to be within close proximity (including a
quarterback under center, if applicable)
(c) a player, after he has received a warning, enters the neutral zone. It is a foul, even if he
returns to a legal position prior to the snap without contacting an opponent or causing a
reaction (movement) by an offensive player in close proximity.
Note: During the last two minutes of a half, after the ball has been spotted for the
succeeding down at the line of scrimmage and the offense is legally set, if the ball is
snapped before all members of the defensive team are on their side of the line of
scrimmage, play shall be stopped immediately, and the defensive team penalized five yards
for a neutral zone infraction.
Penalty: For a Neutral Zone Infraction: Loss of five yards from line of scrimmage. Foul is
enforced prior to snap.
ARTICLE 5. OFFSIDE. (7-4-5)
A player is offside when any part of his body is in or beyond the neutral zone or beyond a
restraining line when the ball is put in play.
Penalty: For offside: Loss of five yards.
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ARTICLE 6. COMPLETE STOP. (7-4-6)
All offensive players are required to come to a complete stop and be in a set position
simultaneously for at least one full second prior to the snap. Failure to do so is an Illegal Shift.
(See Article 2-Item 6 above for such a foul after the two-minute warning of either half.)
ARTICLE 7. SHIFTS. (7-4-7)
The offensive team is permitted to shift and have two or more players in motion multiple times
before the snap. However, after the last shift, all players must come to a complete stop and be
in a set position simultaneously for at least one full second.
If any eligible backfield player goes in motion (one at a time) after the last shift and comes to a
complete stop, there is no requirement for a full second pause before a second player can
legally go in motion.
However, if the first player has not come to a complete stop when the second player goes in
motion, it is another shift and requires another simultaneous stop for at least one full second by
all players.
It is also an illegal shift if a player under or behind center goes in motion and fails to come to a
complete stop for at least one full second before a second player goes in motion.
Note: The offensive team must present a legal formation both before and after a shift.
Penalty: For an illegal shift: Loss of five yards.
ARTICLE 8. ILLEGAL MOTION. (7-4-8)
When the ball is snapped, one player who is lined up in the backfield may be in motion, provided
that he is moving parallel to or away from the line of scrimmage. No player is permitted to be
moving toward the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. All other players must be
stationary in their positions.
If an eligible receiver who is on the line moves to another position on the line (not forward), he
must come to a complete stop prior to the snap. If he does not come to a complete stop, it is
Illegal Motion.
It is also Illegal Motion if a player under or behind center goes in motion and fails to come to a
complete stop for at least one full second prior to the snap.
Penalty: For a player illegally in motion at the snap: Loss of five yards.
SECTION 5 POSITION OF PLAYERS AT THE SNAP (7-5)
ARTICLE 1. OFFENSIVE TEAM. (7-5-1)
The offensive team must be in compliance with the following at the snap:
(a) It must have seven or more players on the line
(b) Eligible receivers must be on both ends of the line, and all of the players on the line between
them must be ineligible receivers
(c) No player may be out of bounds
Note: Offensive linemen may lock legs.
Penalty: For illegal formation by the offense: Loss of five yards.
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SECTION 6 PUTTING THE BALL IN PLAY (7-6)
ARTICLE 1. BALL IN PLAY. (7-6-1)
The offensive team must put the ball in play with a snap at the spot where the previous down
ended unless the enforcement of a penalty moves the ball to another spot, or the down ended
outside the inbounds lines.
ARTICLE 2. SNAP AT INBOUNDS SPOT. (7-6-2)
The ball is next put in play (snap) at the inbounds spot by the team entitled to possession when:
(a) a loose ball is out of bounds between the goal lines
Exception: The ball is next put in play at the previous spot if a forward pass is incomplete.
(b) a runner is out of bounds between the goal lines
(c) the ball is dead in a side zone
(d) the ball is placed in the side zone as the result of a penalty enforcement
(e) a fair catch is made or awarded in a side zone
ARTICLE 3. RESTRICTIONS FOR SNAPPER. (7-6-3)
The snap may be made by any offensive player who is on the line of scrimmage but must
conform to the following provisions:
(a) The snap must start with the ball on the ground, with its long axis horizontal and at right
angles to the line.
(b) It is not necessary that the snap be between the snapper’s legs, but it must be one quick and
continuous motion of the hand or hands of the snapper. The ball must leave or be taken from
his hands during this motion.
(c) The snapper may not snap the ball after it is ready for play until all of the officials have had a
reasonable time to assume their normal positions. If this occurs, the ball remains dead, and
no penalty is assessed unless it is a repeated act after a warning (delay of game).
Penalty: For illegally snapping the ball: Loss of five yards from the line of scrimmage.
ARTICLE 4. LEGAL SNAP. (7-6-4)
A snap is a backward pass. The snap must be received by a player who is not on the line at the
snap unless the ball first strikes the ground. If the ball first strikes the ground, or is muffed by an
eligible backfield receiver, or quarterback under center, it can be recovered and advanced by
any player.
Penalty: For snapping the ball to an ineligible snap receiver: Loss of five yards from the
line of scrimmage. The whistle shall be blown immediately.
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RULE 8 POSSESSION AND PASSING
SECTION 1 FORWARD PASS (8-1)
ARTICLE 1. DEFINITION. (8-1-1)
It is a forward pass if:
(a) the ball initially moves forward (to a point nearer the opponent’s goal line) after leaving the
passer’s hand(s)
(b) the ball first strikes the ground, a player, an official, or anything else at a point that is nearer
the opponent’s goal line than the point at which the ball leaves the passer’s hand(s).
Note: A ball that is intentionally fumbled and goes forward is a forward pass. A ball that is
intentionally muffed, and goes forward or backward, is a batted ball
Item 1. Forward Movement of Hand. When a player is in control of the ball and is attempting to
pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his hand starts a forward pass.
(a) If contact by an opponent materially affects a passer after the passer begins his throwing
motion, it is a forward pass if he passes the ball, regardless of where the ball strikes the
ground, a player, an official, or anything else. When this occurs, intentional grounding rules
do not apply.
(b) When a passer intends to throw a forward pass and is contacted by an opponent before
beginning his throwing motion, the direction of the pass is the responsibility of the passer if
he passes the ball, and intentional grounding rules apply.
(c) If, after intentional forward movement of his hand, the passer loses possession of the ball
during an attempt to bring it back toward his body, it is a fumble.
(d) If the passer loses possession of the ball while attempting to re-cock his arm, it is a fumble.
ARTICLE 2. LEGAL FORWARD PASS. (8-1-2)
The offensive team may make two forward passes from behind the line during each down. If the
ball, whether in player possession or loose, crosses the line of scrimmage, a forward pass is not
permissible, regardless of whether the ball returns behind the line of scrimmage before the pass
is thrown.
Item 1. Illegal Passes. Any other forward pass by either team is illegal and is a foul by the
passing team, including:
(a) A forward pass thrown when the passer is beyond the line of scrimmage.
Note: It is a forward pass from beyond the line of scrimmage if the passer’s entire body and
the ball are beyond the line of scrimmage when the ball is released, whether the passer is
airborne or touching the ground. The penalty for a forward pass thrown from beyond the line
is enforced from the spot where the ball is released.
(b) A forward pass thrown after the ball has crossed the line of scrimmage and has returned
behind it.
(c) A forward pass thrown after there has been a change of possession.
Item 2. Intercepted Illegal Pass. If an illegal pass is caught or intercepted, the ball may be
advanced, and the penalty declined.
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Penalties:
(a) For a forward pass from beyond the line: Loss of down and five yards from the spot
of the pass. See S.N. below.
(b) For a forward pass that was thrown after the ball returned behind the line or a third
forward pass from behind the line: Loss of down and five yards from the previous
spot.
(c) For a forward pass that is thrown after a change of possession: Loss of five yards
from the spot of the pass.
Notes:
(1) Eligibility, pass interference, and intentional grounding rules apply when a forward pass is
thrown from behind the line, regardless of whether the pass is an illegal forward pass.
Eligibility, pass interference, and intentional grounding rules do not apply if a forward
pass is thrown (a) from beyond the line, (b) on a Free Kick play, (c) on a Fair Catch kick
play, or (d) after a change of possession.
(2) Roughing the passer rules apply on all passes (legal or illegal) thrown from behind the
line of scrimmage. If a pass is thrown from beyond the line of scrimmage, unnecessary
roughness may apply for action against the passer.
(3) When a distance penalty in Penalty (a) leaves the ball in advance of the necessary line to
gain, it is first-and-10 for the offensive team.
ARTICLE 3. COMPLETED OR INTERCEPTED PASS. (8-1-3)
A player who makes a catch may advance the ball. A forward pass is complete (by the offense)
or intercepted (by the defense) in the field of play, at the sideline, or in the end zone if a player,
who is inbounds:
(a) secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and
(b) touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands;
and
(c) after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, performs any act common to the game (e.g., tuck the
ball away, extend it forward, take an additional step, turn up field, or avoid or ward off an
opponent), or he maintains control of the ball long enough to do so.
Notes:
(1) Movement of the ball does not automatically result in loss of control.
(2) If a player, who satisfied (a) and (b), but has not satisfied (c), contacts the ground and
loses control of the ball, it is an incomplete pass if the ball hits the ground before he
regains control, or if he regains control out of bounds.
(3) A receiver is considered a player in a defenseless posture throughout the entire process
of the catch and until the player is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending
contact of an opponent.
(4) If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it,
the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first
and an opponent subsequently gains joint control. If the ball is muffed after simultaneous
touching by two such players, all the players of the passing team become eligible to catch
the loose ball.
(5) If a player, who is in possession of the ball, is held up and carried out of bounds by an
opponent before any part of his body touches the ground inbounds, it is a completed or
intercepted pass. It is not necessary for the player to maintain control of the ball when he
lands out of bounds.
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ARTICLE 4. INCOMPLETE PASS. (8-1-4)
An incomplete pass is a loss of down, and the ball returns to the previous spot. Any forward
pass (legal or illegal) is incomplete, and the ball is dead immediately if:
(a) The process of the catch in 8-1-3 is not completed;
(b) The ball goes out of bounds; or
(c) A player touches a pass while out of bounds, or after having been out of bounds, but prior
to re-establishing himself inbounds with both feet or any other body part other than his
hands. This is not a foul for illegal touching.
Note: If there is any question whether a forward pass is complete, intercepted, or
incomplete, it is to be ruled incomplete.
ARTICLE 5. ELIGIBLE RECEIVERS. (8-1-5)
The following players are eligible to catch a forward pass that is thrown from behind the line of
scrimmage.
(a) Defensive players;
(b) Offensive players who are on either end of the line, provided they either have the numbers of
eligible players (0–49 and 80–89) or have legally reported to play a position on the end of the
line;
(c) Offensive players who are legally at least one yard behind the line at the snap, provided they
either have the numbers of eligible players (0–49 and 80–89) or have legally reported to play
a position in the backfield;
(d) All other offensive players after the ball has been touched by any defensive player or any
eligible offensive player; or
(e) An eligible receiver who is forced out of bounds by an opponent’s foul, provided he attempts
to return inbounds immediately and re-establishes inbounds with both feet or with any body
part other than his hands, without prior touching.
ARTICLE 6. INELIGIBLE RECEIVERS. (8-1-6)
All offensive players other than those identified in Article 5 above are ineligible to catch a legal
or illegal forward pass thrown from behind the line of scrimmage, including:
(a) Players who are not on either end of their line or at least one yard behind it when the ball is
snapped.
(b) Offensive players wearing numbers 50–79, unless they have reported a change in their
eligibility status to the Referee and have assumed a position on the end of their line or in
their backfield as required by Article 5;
(c) Players who fail to notify the Referee of being eligible when required;
(d) An eligible receiver who has been out of bounds prior to or during a pass, even if he has reestablished himself inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands.
(e) A player who takes his stance behind center as a T-formation quarterback is not an eligible
receiver unless, before the ball is snapped, he legally moves to a position at least one yard
behind the line of scrimmage or on the end of the line and is stationary in that position for at
least one second before the snap.
ARTICLE 7. LEGAL TOUCHING. (8-1-7)
A forward pass (legal or illegal) thrown from behind the line may be touched by any eligible
player. A pass in flight may be tipped, batted, or deflected in any direction by any eligible player
at any time, including such a pass in the end zone.
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ARTICLE 8. ILLEGAL TOUCHING OF A FORWARD PASS. (8-1-8)
It is a foul for illegal touching of a forward pass (legal or illegal) thrown from behind the line of
scrimmage:
(a) is first touched intentionally or is caught by an originally ineligible offensive player; or
Penalty: For illegal touching of a forward pass: Loss of five yards at the previous spot.
(b) first touches or is caught by an offensive eligible receiver who has gone out of bounds, either
of his own volition or by being legally forced out of bounds and has re-established himself
inbounds.
Penalty: For illegal touching of a forward pass after being out of bounds: Loss of down at
the previous spot.
SECTION 2 INTENTIONAL GROUNDING (8-2)
ARTICLE 1. DEFINITION. (8-2-1)
It is a foul for intentional grounding if a passer, facing an imminent loss of yardage because of
pressure from the defense, throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of completion. A
realistic chance of completion is defined as a pass that is thrown in the direction of and lands in
the vicinity of an originally offensive eligible receiver.
Item 1. Passer or Ball Outside Tackle Position. Intentional grounding will not be called when
a passer, who is outside, or has been outside, the tackle position, throws a forward pass that
lands at or beyond the line of scrimmage, even if no offensive player(s) have a realistic chance
to catch the ball (including when the ball lands out of bounds over the sideline or endline). If the
ball crosses the line of scrimmage (extended) beyond the sideline, there is no intentional
grounding. If a loose ball leaves the area bordered by the tackles, this area no longer exists; if
the ball is recovered, all intentional grounding rules apply as if the passer is outside this area.
Item 2. Physical Contact. Intentional grounding should not be called if:
(a) the passer initiates his passing motion toward an eligible receiver and then is significantly
affected by physical contact from a defensive player that causes the pass to land in an area
that is not in the direction and vicinity of an eligible receiver; or
(b) the passer is out of the pocket, and his passing motion is significantly affected by physical
contact from a defensive player that causes the ball to land short of the line of scrimmage.
Item 3. Stopping Clock. A player under center is permitted to stop the game clock legally to
save time if, immediately upon receiving the snap, he begins a continuous throwing motion and
throws the ball directly into the ground.
Item 4. Delayed Spike. A passer, after delaying his passing action for strategic purposes, is
prohibited from throwing the ball to the ground in front of him, even though he is under no
pressure from defensive rusher(s).
Penalty: For intentional grounding:
(a) loss of down and 10 yards from the previous spot; or
(b) loss of down at the spot of the pass if the spot is more than 10 yards from the
previous spot or more than half the distance to the goal line; or
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(c) a safety if the passer’s entire body and the ball are in his end zone when the ball is
thrown.
SECTION 3 INELIGIBLE PLAYER DOWNFIELD (8-3)
ARTICLE 1. ILLEGAL ACTS. (8-3-1)
No originally ineligible player shall be or have been more than three yards beyond the line of
scrimmage until a passer throws a legal forward pass that crosses the line of scrimmage. A
player is in violation of this rule if his entire body is beyond the three-yard limit.
Exceptions:
(a) the passer legally throws the ball away and it lands near or beyond the sideline.
(b) on an attempted screen pass the passer legally throws the ball away and it crosses the line
of scrimmage.
Penalty: For ineligible offensive player downfield: Loss of five yards from the previous
spot.
SECTION 4 LEGAL AND ILLEGAL CONTACT WITH ELIGIBLE RECEIVERS (8-4)
ARTICLE 1. LEGAL CONTACT WITHIN FIVE YARDS. (8-4-1)
Within the area five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, a defensive player may chuck an
eligible receiver in front of him. The defender is allowed to maintain continuous and unbroken
contact within the five-yard zone, so long as the receiver has not moved beyond a point that is
even with the defender.
ARTICLE 2. ILLEGAL CONTACT WITHIN FIVE YARDS. (8-4-2)
Within the five-yard zone, if the player who receives the snap remains in the pocket with the ball,
a defender may not make original contact in the back of a receiver, nor may he maintain contact
after the receiver has moved beyond a point that is even with the defender.
Note: If a defender contacts a receiver within the five-yard zone of the line of scrimmage,
loses contact, and then contacts him again within the five-yard zone, it is a foul for illegal
contact.
ARTICLE 3. ILLEGAL CONTACT BEYOND FIVE-YARD ZONE. (8-4-3)
Beyond the five-yard zone, if the player who receives the snap remains in the pocket with the
ball, a defender cannot initiate contact with a receiver who is attempting to evade him. A
defender may use his hands or arms only to defend or protect himself against impending
contact caused by a receiver.
Note: If a defender contacts a receiver within the five-yard zone and maintains contact with
him, he must release the receiver as they exit the five-yard zone. If the defender maintains
contact beyond five yards, it is illegal contact.
ARTICLE 4. INCIDENTAL CONTACT BEYOND FIVE-YARD ZONE. (8-4-4)
Beyond the five-yard zone, incidental contact may exist between receiver and defender.
Penalty: For illegal contact by the defense: Loss of five yards and automatic first down.
ARTICLE 5. ILLEGAL CUT BLOCK. (8-4-5)
It is an Illegal Cut Block if:
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(a) an eligible receiver who takes a position more than two yards outside of his own tackle
(flexed receiver) is blocked below the waist at, behind, or beyond the line of scrimmage; or
(b) an eligible receiver who is lined up within two yards of the tackle, whether on or behind the
line, is blocked below the waist after he goes beyond the line of scrimmage (such players
may be blocked below the waist at or behind the line of scrimmage).
Penalty: For illegal cut block: Loss of 15 yards and automatic first down.
ARTICLE 6. DEFENSIVE HOLDING. (8-4-6)
It is defensive holding if a player grasps an eligible offensive player (or his jersey) with his hands
or extends an arm or arms to cut off or encircle him.
Penalty: For holding by the defense: Loss of five yards and automatic first down.
Note: Any offensive player who pretends to possess the ball, and/or one to whom a
teammate pretends to give the ball, may be tackled until he crosses the line of scrimmage
between the offensive tackles of a normal tight offensive line.
ARTICLE 7. END OF RESTRICTIONS. (8-4-7)
If the quarterback or the receiver of the snap demonstrates no further intention to pass the ball
(i.e., hands off or pitches the ball to another player, throws a forward or backward pass, loses
possession of the ball by a muff that touches the ground or a fumble, or if he is tackled) the
restrictions on the defensive team prohibiting illegal contact, or an illegal cut block, against an
eligible receiver will end, and a defensive player is permitted to use his hands, arms, or body to
push, pull, or ward off an offensive receiver pursuant to Rule 12, Section 1, Article 5. If the
quarterback leaves the pocket area with the ball in his possession, the restrictions on illegal
contact and an illegal cut block both end, but the restriction on defensive holding remains in
effect.
If a team presents an apparent punting formation, defensive acts that normally constitute illegal
contact (chuck beyond five yards, etc.) are permitted, provided that the acts do not constitute
defensive holding.
SECTION 5 PASS INTERFERENCE (8-5)
ARTICLE 1. DEFINITION. (8-5-1)
During a down in which a legal forward pass crosses the line of scrimmage, it is pass
interference by either team when any act by a player beyond the neutral zone significantly
hinders an eligible player’s opportunity to catch the ball. Pass interference can only occur when
a forward pass is thrown from behind the line of scrimmage, regardless of whether the pass is
legal or illegal.
Defensive pass interference rules apply from the time the ball is thrown until the ball is touched.
See Article 2 for prohibited acts while the ball is in the air.
Offensive pass interference rules apply from the time the ball is snapped until the ball is
touched. See Article 2 for prohibited acts while the ball is in the air and Article 4 for prohibited
acts prior to the pass.
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ARTICLE 2. PROHIBITED ACTS BY BOTH TEAMS WHILE BALL IS IN THE AIR. (8-5-2)
Acts that are pass interference include, but are not limited to:
(a) Contact by a player who is not playing the ball that restricts the opponent’s opportunity to
make the catch;
(b) Playing through the back of an opponent in an attempt to make a play on the ball;
(c) Grabbing an opponent’s arm(s) in such a manner that restricts his opportunity to catch a
pass;
(d) Extending an arm across the body of an opponent, thus restricting his ability to catch a pass,
and regardless of whether the player committing such act is playing the ball;
(e) Cutting off the path of an opponent by making contact with him, without playing the ball;
(f) Hooking an opponent in an attempt to get to the ball in such a manner that it causes the
opponent’s body to turn prior to the ball arriving; or
(g) Initiating contact with an opponent by shoving or pushing off, thus creating separation.
Note: If there is any question whether player contact is incidental, the ruling should be no
interference.
ARTICLE 3. PERMISSIBLE ACTS BY BOTH TEAMS WHILE BALL IS IN THE AIR. (8-5-3)
Acts that are permissible by a player include, but are not limited to:
(a) Incidental contact by an opponent’s hands, arms, or body when both players are competing
for the ball, or neither player is looking for the ball. If there is any question whether contact is
incidental, the ruling shall be no interference.
(b) Inadvertent tangling of feet when both players are playing the ball or neither player is playing
the ball.
(c) Contact that would normally be considered pass interference, but the pass is clearly
uncatchable by the involved players.
(d) Laying a hand on an opponent that does not restrict him in an attempt to make a play on the
ball.
(e) Contact by a player who has gained position on an opponent in an attempt to catch the ball.
Notes:
(1) When the ball is in the air, eligible offensive and defensive receivers have the same right
to the path of the ball and are subject to the same restrictions.
(2) Acts that do not occur beyond the line of scrimmage are not pass interference but could
be offensive or defensive holding.
(3) Whenever a team presents an apparent punting formation and until the ball is kicked,
defensive acts that normally constitute pass interference are permitted against the end
man on the line of scrimmage, or against an eligible receiver behind the line of
scrimmage who is aligned or in motion more than one yard outside the end man on the
line, provided that the acts do not constitute illegal holding. Defensive holding, such as
tackling a receiver, still can be called and result in a five-yard penalty from the previous
spot, if accepted. Offensive pass interference rules still apply.
ARTICLE 4. OTHER PROHIBITED ACTS BY THE OFFENSE. (8-5-4)
Blocking beyond the line of scrimmage by an offensive player prior to a pass that crosses the
line of scrimmage being thrown is offensive pass interference.
Note: It is also pass interference by the offense to block a defender beyond the line while the
pass is in the air if the block occurs in the vicinity of the player to whom the pass is thrown.
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Exception: An originally ineligible player immediately charges and contacts an opponent at a
point no more than one yard beyond the neutral zone and maintains the contact for no more
than three yards beyond the neutral zone.
Penalty: For pass interference by the defense:
(a) first down for the offensive team at the spot of the foul; or
(b) 15 yards from the previous spot if the foul occurs more than 15 yards beyond the
previous spot and is not deemed intentional.
If the interference is also a personal foul, the 15-yard penalty for such a foul is also
enforced, either from the succeeding spot (after interference penalty is enforced), or from
the end of the run if the foul for pass interference is declined.
When the ball is snapped on or inside the Team B 16-yard line and outside the Team B
one-yard line, and the spot of the foul is on or inside the one-yard line, the penalty from
the previous spot shall place the ball at the one-yard line, first down. If the previous spot
was on or inside the one-yard line, first down halfway between the previous spot and the
goal line.
Penalty: For pass interference by the offense: Loss of 10 yards from the previous spot.
SECTION 6 ENFORCEMENT SPOT (8-6)
ARTICLE 1. ENFORCEMENT SPOT. (8-6-1)
If there is a foul by either team from the time of the snap until a forward pass thrown from behind
the line ends, the penalty is enforced from the previous spot. A pass play ends, and a running
play begins the instant that a pass is caught.
Exceptions:
(a) See 8-5-penalty above for defensive pass interference.
(b) Intentional grounding is a loss of down at the spot of the foul, or a loss of down and a 10-
yard penalty from the previous spot, whichever is less beneficial for the offense.
(c) If there is a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct foul by the defense prior to
completion of a forward pass thrown from behind the line, enforcement is from the
previous spot or the dead-ball spot, whichever is more beneficial to the offense. If the play
results in a score for the offense, enforcement is on the ensuing Try. If the passing team is
fouled and subsequently loses possession after a completion, the passing team retains
possession of the ball, and enforcement is from the previous spot.
(d) If there is a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct foul by the offense prior to an
interception of a forward pass thrown from behind the line, enforcement is from the deadball spot. If the intercepting team subsequently loses possession, the penalty is enforced
from the spot of the interception, and the intercepting team retains possession.
(e) When the offensive team commits a foul behind its own goal line one of the penalty
enforcement options is a safety.
Note: When the dead-ball spot is normally a touchback, enforcement is from the 25-yard
line.
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SECTION 7 BACKWARD PASS AND FUMBLE (8-7)
ARTICLE 1. BACKWARD PASS. (8-7-1)
A runner may throw a backward pass at any time. Players of either team may advance after
catching a backward pass or recovering a backward pass after it touches the ground.
Exception: Actions to conserve time (4-7-1).
Note: A direct snap from center to a player in the backfield, a muffed hand-to-hand snap, or
a snap that is untouched by any player are backward passes, and the ball remains alive.
ARTICLE 2. BACKWARD PASS OUT OF BOUNDS. (8-7-2)
If a backward pass goes out of bounds between the goal lines, the ball is dead, and it is next put
in play at the inbounds spot. Rule 11 governs if a backward pass is declared dead behind the
goal line.
ARTICLE 3. FUMBLE. (8-7-3)
A fumble is any act, other than a pass or kick, which results in a loss of player possession.
Exception: If a runner intentionally fumbles forward, it is a forward pass.
Item 1. Recovery and Advance. Any player of either team may recover or catch a fumble and
advance, either before or after the ball strikes the ground.
Exceptions:
(a) Fourth-down fumble. See 8-7-5 below.
(b) Fumble after two-minute warning. See 8-7-6 below.
Item 2. Legal Recovery. For a legal recovery of a fumble, see 3-2-7.
Item 3. Out of Bounds. When a fumble goes out of bounds between the goal lines, the
following shall apply:
(a) If a fumble goes backward and out of bounds, the ball is next put in play at the inbounds spot
by the team that was last in possession;
(b) If a fumble goes forward and out of bounds, the ball is next put in play at the spot of the
fumble by the team that was last in possession;
(c) If a ball is fumbled in a team’s own end zone and goes forward into the field of play and out
of bounds, it will result in a safety, if that team provided the impetus that put the ball into the
end zone (See 11-5-1 for exception for momentum). If the impetus was provided by the
opponent, the play will result in a touchback; or
(d) Notwithstanding any of the above, when there has not been a change of possession during
the down, and the spot of the ball is not at or beyond the line to gain after fourth down, the
ball is awarded to Team B at the spot that the ball is declared dead.
Item 4. Out of Bounds in End Zone. When a fumble goes out of bounds in the end zone, the
following shall apply:
(a) If a ball is fumbled in the field of play, and goes forward into the opponent’s end zone and
over the end line or sideline, the ball is next put in play at the inbounds spot by the team that
was last in possession (see Item 3, note (d) above for 4th down); or
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(b) If a ball is fumbled in a team’s own end zone or in the field of play and goes out of bounds in
the end zone, it is a safety, if that team provided the impetus that sent the ball into the end
zone (See 11-5-1 for exception for momentum). If the impetus was provided by the
opponent, it is a touchback.
ARTICLE 4. HANDING BALL FORWARD. (8-7-4)
No player may hand the ball forward to an ineligible receiver who is behind the line of
scrimmage.
(a) Loss of player possession by unsuccessful execution of attempted handing is a fumble
charged to the player that last had possession.
(b) A muffed handoff (legal or illegal) is a fumble, and the ball remains alive.
Penalty: For handing ball forward to ineligible receiver behind line of scrimmage: Loss of
down and five yards from the previous spot.
ARTICLE 5. FOURTH-DOWN FUMBLE. (8-7-5)
If a fourth-down fumble occurs during a play from scrimmage:
(a) The ball may be advanced by any member of the defensive team.
(b) The player who fumbled is the only Team A player permitted to recover and advance the
ball.
(c) If the recovery or catch is by a teammate of the player who fumbled, the ball is dead, and the
spot of the next snap is the spot of the fumble, or the spot of the recovery if the spot of the
recovery is behind the spot of the fumble.
Note: After a change of possession has occurred, the restrictions in (b) and (c) are no longer
in effect for the remainder of the down.
ARTICLE 6. FUMBLE AFTER TWO-MINUTE WARNING. (8-7-6)
If a fumble by either team occurs after the two-minute warning:
(a) The ball may be advanced by any opponent.
(b) The player who fumbled is the only player of his team who is permitted to recover and
advance the ball.
(c) If the recovery or catch is by a teammate of the player who fumbled, the ball is dead, and the
spot of the next snap is the spot of the fumble, or the spot of the recovery if the spot of the
recovery is behind the spot of the fumble.
Note: The restrictions in (b) and (c) are applicable during a Try throughout the game
including during overtime.
ARTICLE 7. ENFORCEMENT SPOT DURING A BACKWARD PASS OR FUMBLE. (8-7-7)
(a) When the spot of the backward pass or fumble is beyond the line of scrimmage, or when
there is not a line of scrimmage, and there is a foul during the backward pass or fumble, the
Basic Spot is the spot of the backward pass or the spot of the fumble. The three-and-one
method of enforcement is used.
(b) When the spot of a backward pass or fumble is behind the line of scrimmage, all fouls
committed by either team, including a foul by Team B in Team A’s end zone, are enforced
from the previous spot, except a foul by the offense in its end zone is a safety if the defense
elects to enforce the penalty at that spot.
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(c) For enforcement when the offense commits a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct foul
prior to the recovery by the defense of a backward pass or fumble. See 14-4-3.
Note: When Team B gains possession in its end zone, and the impetus was by Team A, if
Team B fumbles or throws a backward pass in the end zone, and fouls while the ball is
loose, the spot of the fumble or the backward pass is considered to be the B25-yard line.
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RULE 9 SCRIMMAGE KICKS
SECTION 1 KICK FROM SCRIMMAGE (9-1)
ARTICLE 1. KICK ON OR BEHIND LINE OF SCRIMMAGE. (9-1-1)
Team A may attempt a punt, drop kick, or placekick from on or behind the line of scrimmage.
Penalty: For a punt, drop kick, or placekick that is kicked from beyond the line of
scrimmage or not from scrimmage: Loss of down and five yards from the spot of the
kick. For a second kick from behind the line after the ball has crossed the line: Loss of
down and five yards from the previous spot.
Notes:
(1) This is not considered illegally kicking the ball.
(2) A second kick from behind the line of scrimmage is legal provided the ball has not
crossed the line and returned behind the line.
(3) Scrimmage kick rules apply to punts, drop kicks, and placekicks anywhere on the field.
ARTICLE 2. KICKING TEAM. (9-1-2)
Item 1: Kicking Team Formation. All kicking team players must be inside the numbers until the
ball is snapped.
Item 2: Kicking Team During Kick. During a kick from scrimmage, no player from the kicking
team is permitted to advance more than one yard beyond the line before the ball is kicked.
Penalty: For illegal formation or advancing more than one yard beyond the line of
scrimmage before the ball is kicked: Loss of five yards.
ARTICLE 3. DEFENSIVE TEAM FORMATION. (9-1-3)
Item 1. Punt Formation. When Team A presents a punt formation:
(1) A Team B player, who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage, must have his entire body
outside the snapper’s shoulder pads at the snap.
Penalty: For illegal formation by the defense: Loss of five yards.
(2) Until the ball is kicked, only one Team B player may align in front of the widest player in the
punt team formation and may not cross the line of scrimmage to initiate a block on that
player.
Penalty: For a double team on widest player or crossing the line of scrimmage to block
widest player before ball is kicked: Loss of five yards.
(3) Team B players cannot push teammates into the offensive formation.
Penalty: For pushing teammates into offensive formation: Loss of 15 yards.
Note: The restrictions in (1) and (2) above do not apply if a team does not present a
standard punt formation (an equal number of players on either side of the snapper in a tight
formation, and one player split out wide to either side), or if, after the offensive team has
assumed a set position, there is a shift, or a player goes in motion.
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Item 2: Field Goal. When Team A presents a field goal formation:
(1) A Team B player, who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage, must have his entire body
outside the snapper’s shoulder pads at the snap.
(2) No more than six Team B players may be on the line of scrimmage on either side of the
snapper at the snap.
Penalty: For illegal formation by the defense: Loss of five yards.
(3) Team B players cannot push teammates into the offensive formation.
Penalty: For pushing teammates into offensive formation: Loss of 15 yards.
Note: The restrictions in (1) and (2) above do not apply if a team does not present a
standard field goal or Try Kick formation (an equal number of players on either side of the
snapper in a tight formation), or if, after the offensive team has assumed a set position, there
is a shift, or a player goes in motion.
ARTICLE 4. BLOCKING DURING KICK. (9-1-4)
The following blocking rules apply during a scrimmage kick down:
(a) All players on the receiving team are prohibited from blocking below the waist during a down
in which there is a scrimmage kick.
(b) Prior to the ball being kicked, the kicking team is subject to the blocking restrictions
applicable to the offense, and the receiving team is subject to the blocking restrictions
applicable to the defense, except that a kicking team player may use his hands to ward off,
push, or pull aside a receiver who is legally or illegally attempting to obstruct his attempt to
proceed downfield.
(c) After the ball is kicked and goes beyond the line of scrimmage, and until the kick ends (either
team secures possession of the ball, or the ball is dead by rule), the kicking team is subject
to the blocking restrictions of the defense, and the receiving team is subject to the blocking
restrictions of the offense. (For the exception prohibiting a block in the back by the kicking
team while the ball is in flight, see 12-1-3. After the kick ends, both teams are subject to the
normal restrictions applicable to offense and defense.
Exception: If the ball does not go behind the line of scrimmage or goes beyond the line of
scrimmage and returns behind the line untouched by the receiving team beyond the line, the
blocking restrictions do not change, and the kicking team continues to be subject to the
blocking restrictions of the offense and the receiving team to the blocking restrictions of the
defense.
(d) After the ball has been kicked and goes beyond the line of scrimmage, and until the kick
ends (either team secures possession of the ball, or the ball is dead by rule) the penalty
yardage for holding and illegal use of hands fouls by either team shall be 10 yards.
Note: It is a foul for unnecessary roughness if a player of the receiving team goes out of
bounds and blocks a kicking team player who is out of bounds.
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ARTICLE 5. KICKING TEAM PLAYER VOLUNTARILY OUT OF BOUNDS. (9-1-5)
During a scrimmage kick that crosses the line of scrimmage, and prior to the end of the kick, it is
a foul if a kicking team player goes out of bounds voluntarily (without being contacted by a
receiving team player) to avoid a block by a receiving team player.
Penalty: Loss of five yards.
If a member of the kicking team is forced out of bounds, or goes out of bounds voluntarily, and
does not attempt to return inbounds in a reasonable amount of time, it is a foul for
Unsportsmanlike Conduct.
SECTION 2 TOUCHING A SCRIMMAGE KICK (9-2)
ARTICLE 1. TOUCHING BEHIND THE LINE. (9-2-1)
Any touching of the ball behind the line of scrimmage by a kicking team player is legal, even if
the ball has crossed the line and returns behind the line.
ARTICLE 2. FIRST TOUCHING BEYOND THE LINE. (9-2-2)
“First touching” is when a player of the kicking team touches a scrimmage kick in the field of
play that is beyond the line of scrimmage before it has been touched by a player of the receiving
team beyond the line. If the ball is first touched by a player of the kicking team, it remains in
play. First touching is a violation, and the receivers shall have the option of taking possession of
the ball at the spot of first touching, provided no live-ball penalty is accepted on the play, or at
the spot where the ball is dead. First touching does not offset a foul by the receivers; if there is a
live-ball foul by the receivers that is enforced, either before or after the first touching violation,
the violation is disregarded, and the penalty is enforced as customary.
Notes:
(1) If the receiving team gains possession, subsequently loses possession, and fouls after
the kicking team gains possession, the spot of first touching is disregarded, and the
kicking team retains possession. Enforcement of the receiving team’s foul is as
customary.
(2) There may be multiple “first touch” spots if the kicking team touches the ball multiple
times before it is touched by a player of the receiving team.
(3) A Team B player is deemed not to have touched a kick if such touching occurs in the
immediate vicinity of the line in an attempt to block the kick.
(4) If a player of the kicking team touches the goal line with any part of his body while
touching the ball, the ball is dead, and the result of the play is a touchback.
(5) The spot of first touching is normally the yard line at which the ball is when touched. If the
first touching occurs while the ball is in the air above or beyond the goal line, and prior to
the ball touching the goal line or the ground beyond the goal line, the spot of first touching
is deemed to be the spot from which the touching player left the field of play, but in no
event inside the receiving team’s one-yard line.
ARTICLE 3. KICKING TEAM PLAYER OUT OF BOUNDS. (9-2-3)
A player of the kicking team, who has gone out of bounds during the kick, either of his own
volition or by being legally forced out of bounds, may not touch, or recover a scrimmage kick
beyond the line of scrimmage until it has been touched by a kicking team player who has not
been out of bounds, or until it has been touched by a player of the receiving team beyond the
line.
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Note: If a player touches or recovers the ball before he has re-established himself inbounds,
the ball is out of bounds at the spot of the touch, and there is no foul.
Penalty: For illegal touching of a scrimmage kick: Loss of five yards. If the illegal
touching is inside the receiver’s five-yard line, in addition to the other specified options,
the receiving team may elect to take a touchback.
ARTICLE 4. BLOCKED INTO KICK. (9-2-4)
There is no distinction between a player touching a ball or being touched by it, but a player is
not considered to have touched the ball if he is blocked into it by an opponent, provided he is in
a passive position and not blocking. A player who is engaged with and blocking his opponent
when he contacts the ball is deemed to have touched the ball.
ARTICLE 5. BALL BATTED OR ILLEGALLY KICKED INTO OPPONENT. (9-2-5)
A receiving team player is deemed to have not touched the ball if it is batted or illegally kicked
into him by an opponent. Such touching by the receiving team is disregarded, though the bat or
kick could create a first touching violation or a foul for an illegal bat or illegal kick.
SECTION 3 CATCH OR RECOVERY OF A SCRIMMAGE KICK (9-3)
ARTICLE 1. KICKERS CATCH OR RECOVER BEHIND LINE. (9-3-1)
When a scrimmage kick is caught or recovered by the kicking team behind the line of
scrimmage, the kicking team may advance, even if the ball has crossed the line and returned
behind the line.
Item 1. Same Series of Downs. If the ball has returned behind the line untouched by the
receiving team beyond the line, and the kicking team catches or recovers the ball, the existing
series of downs continues unless the kicking team advances the ball to the line to gain, in which
case there is a new series of downs.
Item 2. New Series of Downs. If the ball has returned behind the line after being touched by
the receiving team beyond the line, and the kicking team catches or recovers the ball, by rule
there has been a change of possession, and the kicking team will be awarded a new series of
downs.
ARTICLE 2. KICKERS CATCH OR RECOVER BEYOND LINE. (9-3-2)
When the kickers catch or recover a kick beyond the line of scrimmage, the ball is dead at the
spot of recovery, even if a member of the receiving team has first touched the ball.
Item 1. Legal Catch or Recovery. If the receiving team touches the ball beyond the line, a
subsequent catch or recovery by the kicking team is legal, but the ball is dead. In the event of
such a catch or recovery, it is first-and-10 for the kickers, or if the ball is caught or recovered by
the kickers in the receiver’s end zone, it is a touchdown for the kickers.
Item 2. Illegal Catch or Recovery. If the kickers catch or recover a kick beyond the line that
has not been touched beyond the line by the receiving team, the ball is dead, and it is first-and10 for the receivers at the spot of catch or recovery (see 11-4-2 for missed goals). If a kick from
behind the line is touched by the receiving team behind the line, such touching does not make
the kicking team eligible to catch or recover the kick beyond the line.
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Item 3. Touchback. If a player of the kicking team illegally catches or recovers a scrimmage
kick, other than a field-goal attempt from beyond the 25-yard line and touches the goal line with
any part of his body while in possession of the ball, the ball is dead, and the result of the play is
a touchback. For a missed field goal from beyond the 25-yard line, see 11-4-2.
ARTICLE 3. RECEIVERS CATCH OR RECOVERY. (9-3-3)
If the receivers catch or recover any kick, they may advance. For fair catch exception, see 10-2.
For exception for a ball that has crossed the goal line. (Section 4, Article 1 below)
ARTICLE 4. SIMULTANEOUS CATCH OR RECOVERY. (9-3-4)
When a legal kick is simultaneously caught or recovered anywhere by two eligible opposing
players, or if the ball is lying on the field of play with no player attempting to recover it, it is
awarded to the receivers.
SECTION 4 BALL CROSSES GOAL LINE, TOUCHES GOAL POSTS, OUT OF BOUNDS,
DEAD IN FIELD OF PLAY (9-4)
ARTICLE 1. BALL CROSSES RECEIVERS’ GOAL LINE. (9-4-1)
If a scrimmage kick crosses the receiver’s goal line from the impetus of the kick, the following
shall apply:
(a) If the ball has not been touched by a player of the receiving team beyond the line of
scrimmage, it is dead immediately, and the result of the play is a touchback, when:
(1) it touches the ground on or behind the receiver’s goal line
(2) it touches a player of the kicking team who is touching the ground on or behind the
receiver’s goal line
(3) it touches a player of the kicking team who has touched the ground on or behind the
receiver’s goal line and has not re-established himself in the field of play. See 11-4-2
for options for missed field goals beyond the 25-yard line.
(b) If the receivers catch the ball in the end zone or recover it in the end zone after touching it in
the field of play or the end zone, they may advance.
(c) If the kickers catch or recover the ball in the end zone after the receivers first touch the ball
in the field of play or the end zone, it is a touchdown for the kickers.
(d) If there is a spot of first touching by the kickers outside the receivers’ 25-yard line, the
receiving team has the option to take possession of the ball at the spot of the first touching.
(e) If the scrimmage kick is a punt, and the ball goes out of bounds in the field of play after being
touched by a receiver in the end zone or in the field of play, it is the receiving team’s ball at
the out-of-bounds spot.
ARTICLE 2. KICK TOUCHES RECEIVERS’ GOAL POSTS. (9-4-2)
If a missed field goal or punt has touched the receiver’s goal post, uprights, or crossbar, the ball
is dead in the receiver’s end zone, and all customary rules pertaining to punts and missed field
goals apply.
ARTICLE 3. KICK TOUCHES KICKERS’ GOAL POSTS. (9-4-3)
If a scrimmage kick touches the kickers’ goal post, uprights, or crossbar, the ball is dead, and it
is a safety.
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ARTICLE 4. BALL OUT OF BOUNDS OR NOT RECOVERED IN FIELD OF PLAY. (9-4-4)
If a scrimmage kick goes out of bounds between the goal lines or is lying in the field of play with
no player attempting to recover it, it is the receiver’s ball at the dead-ball spot.
Exception:
If a punt that has not been touched by either team goes out of bounds beyond the
receiving team’s 25-yard line, the ball will be placed at the 25.
SECTION 5 SPOTS OF ENFORCEMENT (9-5)
ARTICLE 1. SPOTS OF ENFORCEMENT. (9-5-1)
If there is a foul from the time of the snap until a legal scrimmage kick ends, enforcement is from
the previous spot. This includes a foul during a run prior to a legal kick, and a foul by the kicking
team during a missed field-goal attempt.
Exceptions:
(1) If the offensive team commits a foul in its own end zone, one of the penalty enforcement
options is a safety.
(2) Unless the kick is a missed field-goal attempt, if there is a foul by the kicking team, the
receiving team will have the option of taking the penalty at the previous spot and
replaying the down or adding the penalty yardage on to the dead-ball spot.
Notes:
(a) The dead-ball spot for scrimmage kicks that result in a touchback is the 25-yard line.
(b) If there is a foul for an illegal touch inside the five-yard line, the receiving team also
has the option of accepting a touchback.
(c) If there is a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct foul by the kicking team during a
missed field-goal attempt where the receiving team is awarded the ball, enforcement
is from the succeeding spot.
(3) Fair-catch interference, interference with the opportunity to make a catch, an invalid faircatch signal, or a personal foul (blocking) after a fair-catch signal are enforced from the
spot of the foul.
Note: If the foul is not part of a double foul and the opponent has possession at the end
of the down, the foul may be enforced from the dead-ball spot.
(4) Except for fouls that are committed in an attempt to block the kick (such as running into
or roughing the kicker, defensive holding (pull-and-shoot), leverage, leaping, and pushing
teammate(s) into the offensive formation), if the receiving team commits a foul during a
kick that crosses the line of scrimmage, the penalty for its infraction will be enforced as if
it had been in possession of the ball at the time the foul occurred (a post-possession
foul), provided that the receiving team does not lose possession of the ball at any time
during the down. The penalty shall be enforced from whichever of the following spots is
least beneficial to the receiving team:
(a) the end of the kick; or
(b) the spot of the foul.
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If the foul occurs in the end zone, it is deemed to have occurred at the 25-yard line,
unless enforcement results in a safety.
(5) For enforcement of a personal or unsportsmanlike conduct foul on a play that results in a
score, see 14-2-3; for illegally kicking a loose ball, see 12-5-2; and for an illegal bat, see
12-5-1.
When Team B establishes possession of the ball, a scrimmage kick ends, and a running play
begins, and fouls that occur thereafter are enforced from the dead-ball spot or the spot of the
foul (three-and-one method, 14-3-6).
(6) Double fouls are enforced according to customary rules. See Rule 14-5.
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RULE 10 OPPORTUNITY TO CATCH A KICK, FAIR CATCH
SECTION 1 OPPORTUNITY TO CATCH A KICK (10-1)
ARTICLE 1. INTERFERENCE. (10-1-1)
During a scrimmage kick that crosses the line of scrimmage, or during a free kick, members of
the kicking team are prohibited from interfering with any receiver making an attempt to catch the
airborne kick, or from obstructing or hindering his path to the airborne kick, and regardless of
whether any signal was given.
Item 1. Contact with Receiver. It is interference if a player of the kicking team contacts the
receiver or causes a passive player of either team to contact the receiver, before or
simultaneous to the receiver touching the ball.
Item 2. Right of Way. A receiver who is moving toward a kicked ball that is in flight has the right
of way. If opponents obstruct his path to the ball or cause a passive player of either team to
obstruct his path, it is interference, even if there is no contact, or if he catches the ball in spite of
the interference, and regardless of whether any signal was given.
Note: It is not a foul if a kicking team player is blocked into the receiver, or the contact is the
result of a foul.
Penalties:
(a) For interference with the opportunity to make a catch when a prior signal has not
been made: Loss of 15 yards from the spot of the foul, and the offended team is
entitled to put the ball in play by a snap from scrimmage.
(b) For interfering with a fair catch after a signal: Loss of 15 yards from the spot of the
foul. A fair catch is awarded even if the ball is not caught.
Note: If the foul is not part of a double foul and the opponent has possession at the end of
the down, the foul may be enforced from the dead-ball spot.
SECTION 2 FAIR CATCH (10-2)
ARTICLE 1. DEFINITION. (10-2-1)
A Fair Catch is an unhindered catch of a scrimmage kick that has crossed the line of scrimmage
and has not touched the ground, or of a free kick that has not touched the ground, by a player of
the receiving team who has given a valid fair catch signal.
ARTICLE 2. FAIR-CATCH SIGNAL. (10-2-2)
Item 1. Valid Fair-Catch Signal. A fair-catch signal is valid if it is made while the kick is in flight
by a player who fully extends one arm above his helmet and waves it from side to side. A
receiver is permitted to legally raise his hand(s) to his helmet to shield his eyes from the sun but
is not permitted to raise them above his helmet except to signal for a fair catch.
Item 2. Invalid Fair-Catch Signal. If a player raises his hand(s) above his shoulder(s) in any
other manner, it is an invalid fair-catch signal. If there is an invalid fair-catch signal, the ball is
dead when caught or recovered by any player of the receiving team, but it is not a fair catch.
(The ball is not dead if it touches an opponent before or after it strikes the ground. See Article 3-
b).
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Note: A fair-catch signal given behind the line of scrimmage on a scrimmage kick is ignored
and is neither valid nor invalid.
Penalty: For an invalid fair-catch signal: Loss of five yards from the spot of the signal. If
the foul occurs in Team B’s end zone during a free kick, it is enforced from the
succeeding spot.
Item 3. Muff. After a valid fair-catch signal, the opportunity to catch a kick does not end if the
ball is muffed. The player who signaled for a fair catch must have a reasonable opportunity to
catch the muffed ball before it hits the ground without interference by members of the kicking
team, and regardless of whether the ball strikes another player or an official.
Penalty: For interference with the opportunity to make a fair catch after a muff: A fair
catch is awarded at the spot of the interference even if the ball is not caught.
Item 4. Intentional Muff. An intentional muff forward prior to a catch in order to gain ground is
an illegal bat (see 12-5-1-Note).
Item 5. Illegal Block. Until the ball touches a teammate or an opponent, a player who makes a
valid or invalid fair-catch signal is prohibited from blocking or initiating contact with a player of
the kicking team.
Penalty: For an illegal block after a fair-catch signal: Loss of 15 yards from the spot of
the foul. If the foul occurs in Team B’s end zone during a free kick, it is enforced from the
succeeding spot.
ARTICLE 3. RESTRICTIONS. (10-2-3)
(a) If a player of the receiving team makes a valid fair-catch signal, and the ball is not touched
by a player of the kicking team, the following apply:
(1) If he catches the ball, it is dead immediately, and it is a fair catch. If he muffs the ball, but
catches it before it touches the ground, it is also a fair catch. After a fair catch, the ball is
next put in play by the receiving team at the dead-ball spot (or at the succeeding spot
after enforcement of any applicable penalties). See Article 4.
(2) If he recovers the ball after it strikes the ground, it is dead immediately, but it is not a fair
catch.
(3) If the ball is caught or recovered by a teammate who did not make a valid fair-catch
signal, the ball is dead immediately, but it is not a fair catch. The ball will next be put in
play by a snap by the receiving team at the dead-ball spot (or at the succeeding spot
after enforcement of any applicable penalties).
(b) If the ball touches a player of the kicking team, before or after it strikes the ground, any
player of the receiving team may catch or recover it and advance. If a player of the receiving
team who has given a valid fair-catch signal catches the ball before it hits the ground and
elects not to advance the ball, it is a fair catch.
(c) If a receiver has made a fair catch, an opponent is prohibited from blocking or tackling him,
or causing a passive player of either team to contact him. Incidental contact is not a foul.
Penalty: For illegal contact with a player who has made a fair catch: Loss of 15 yards
from the dead-ball spot and disqualification if flagrant.
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ARTICLE 4. PUTTING BALL IN PLAY AFTER FAIR CATCH. (10-2-4)
After a fair catch is made, or is awarded as the result of fair-catch interference, the receiving
team has the option of putting the ball in play by either a:
(a) fair-catch kick (drop kick or placekick without a tee) from the spot of the catch (or the
succeeding spot after enforcement of any applicable penalties), or
(b) snap from the spot of the catch (or the succeeding spot after enforcement of any applicable
penalties).
Note: A receiver may make or be awarded a fair catch in his end zone. If there is fair-catch
interference or illegal contact with the receiver after he has made a fair catch, the 15-yard
penalty is enforced from the receiver’s 25-yard line, and the option for a fair-catch kick is
awarded.
ARTICLE 5. EXTENSION OF A PERIOD. (10-2-5)
If time expires during a play in which a player has signaled for a fair catch, the following shall
apply:
(a) If the player makes a fair catch, the receiving team may elect to extend the period with a faircatch kick, but does not have the option to extend the period by a snap from scrimmage.
(b) If the kicking team interferes with a receiver who has signaled for a fair catch, the receiving
team will be awarded a 15-yard penalty and the option to extend the period by attempting a
fair-catch kick or by a snap from scrimmage
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RULE 11 SCORING
SECTION 1 VALUE OF SCORES (11-1)
ARTICLE 1. WINNING TEAM. (11-1-1)
The team that scores the greater number of points during the entire game is the winner.
Note: If a team forfeits a game, the opponent will be declared the winner by a score of 2-0,
but the points will not be added to the winning team’s record for purposes of offensive
production or tiebreakers.
ARTICLE 2. TYPES OF SCORING PLAYS. (11-1-2)
Points are scored as follows:
(a) Touchdown: 6 points
(b) Field Goal: 3 points
(c) Safety: 2 points
(d) Try after touchdown:
(1) 1 point from opponent’s two-yard line;
(2) 2 points from opponent’s five-yard line; or
(3) 3 points from opponent’s 10-yard line.
SECTION 2 TOUCHDOWN (11-2)
ARTICLE 1. TOUCHDOWN PLAYS. (11-2-1)
A touchdown is scored when:
(a) the ball is on, above, or behind the plane of the opponents’ goal line (extended) and is in
possession of a runner who has advanced from the field of play into the end zone
(b) a ball in possession of an airborne runner is on, above, or behind the plane of the goal line,
and some part of the ball passed over or inside the pylon
(c) a ball in player possession touches the pylon, provided that, after contact by an opponent, no
part of the player’s body, except his hands or feet, struck the ground before the ball touched
the pylon
(d) any player who is legally inbounds catches or recovers a loose ball that is on, above, or
behind the opponent’s goal line
(e) the Referee awards a touchdown to a team that has been denied one by a palpably unfair
act
Notes:
(1) The ball is automatically dead when it is in legal possession of a player and is on, above,
or behind the opponent’s goal line.
(2) If a player attempts to catch a pass, the ball is not dead, and a touchdown is not scored,
until the receiver completes the catch.
SECTION 3 TRY (11-3)
ARTICLE 1. GENERAL RULES. (11-3-1)
After a touchdown, a Try is an opportunity for either team to score one, two, or three additional
points during one scrimmage down.
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The Try begins when the Referee sounds the whistle for play to start. The team that scored the
touchdown shall put the ball in play:
(a) anywhere on or between the inbound lines;
(b) two yards from the defensive team’s goal line for a one-point Try; or
(c) five yards from the defensive team’s goal line for a two-point Try; or
(d) 10 yards from the defensive team’s goal line for a three-point Try.
Notes:
(1) A team’s choice is final and may not change following a team timeout or accepted penalty
(2) All general rules for fumbles after the two-minute warning apply to the Try.
(3) The Game Clock will not run during the Try
(4) If the ball has been declared ready for play by the Referee, and the offensive team wants
to change the location of the ball, they can do so by calling a timeout
(5) See 4-8-2-c when a touchdown is scored during a down in which time expires in the
fourth period.
ARTICLE 2. RESULTS OF A TRY. (11-3-2)
During a Try, the following shall apply:
(a) If a Try results in a touchdown by either team, one, two, or three points are awarded. If the
defense scores a touchdown the number of points awarded is the same as if the offense had
scored.
(b) If the Try results in what would ordinarily be a safety against either team, one point is
awarded to the opponent.
(d) If any play results in a touchback, the Try is unsuccessful, and there shall be no replay.
(e) The Try ends when:
(1) either team scores;
(2) the ball is dead by rule; or
(3) a fumble by either team is recovered by a teammate of the fumbling player.
ARTICLE 3. FOULS COMMITTED DURING TRY. (11-3-3)
If a foul results in a retry, the penalty is enforced from the spot where the try was attempted
(previous spot).
Exception: Defensive pass interference is a spot foul. If the foul is in the end zone, the ball will
be placed on the defense’s one-yard line, or half the distance to the goal, whichever is more
advantageous to Team A.
Item 1. Fouls Before the Signal. If there is a foul by either team after a touchdown and before
the ready-for-play signal, it is enforced on the try.
Item 2. Fouls Before the Snap. If there is a foul by either team which causes a play to be
whistled dead prior to the snap, it shall be treated the same as if it had occurred prior to a
scrimmage play. The whistle shall be blown immediately.
Item 3. Fouls by Team A. The following applies if there is a foul by Team A:
(a) If the foul is during a successful Try, the Try shall be repeated, unless the penalty results in a
loss of down.
(b) If the penalty for a foul results in a loss of down, the Try is unsuccessful, and there shall be
no replay.
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(c) All fouls after a change of possession will result in a distance penalty being assessed on the
ensuing kickoff, provided the penalty does not offset with another penalty or negate a
successful Try.
(d) All personal or unsportsmanlike conduct fouls will result in a distance penalty being
assessed on the ensuing kickoff, provided the penalty does not offset with another penalty or
negate a successful Try.
(d) If the foul results in a safety, Team B is awarded one point.
Item 4. Fouls by Team B. The following applies if there is a foul by Team B:
(a) All fouls, except for defensive pass interference, will result in the distance penalty being
assessed on the ensuing kickoff, provided the penalty does not offset with another penalty ,
create a re-Try, or negate a score by Team B.
(b) If the foul results in a safety, Team A is awarded one point.
(c) If the foul is during an unsuccessful try, Team A may decline the distance penalty, and the
down is replayed.
Item 5. Fouls by Both Teams With No Change of Possession. If there are fouls by both
teams during a Try in which there is not a change of possession, the Try must be replayed.
Exception: See 14-4-9-Item 3-exc. 2 for enforcement when the scoring team commits a dead
ball foul after a score.
Item 6. Fouls by Both Teams With Change of Possession. If both teams foul during a Try in
which there is a change or changes of possession, the following shall apply:
(a) If both teams foul before the first change of possession, the Try shall be repeated.
(b) If Team B fouls before the first change of possession, the Try shall be repeated.
(c) If Team A fouls before the first change of possession, the Try shall be deemed to have
failed.
(d) If neither team fouls before the first change of possession, and both teams subsequently
commit fouls, the Try shall be deemed to have failed.
Item 7. Fouls After a Try. If there is a foul by either team after a Try, it is enforced on the
succeeding kickoff. If there are fouls by both teams, normal enforcement rules apply.
ARTICLE 4. KICKOFF AFTER TRY. (11-3-4)
After a Try, the team on defense during the Try shall receive the kickoff.
SECTION 4 FIELD GOAL (11-4)
ARTICLE 1. SUCCESSFUL FIELD GOAL. (11-4-1)
A field goal is scored when all of the following conditions are met:
(a) The kick must be a placekick or drop kick made by the offense from on or behind the line of
scrimmage or from the spot of a fair catch (fair-catch kick). If a fair catch is made or awarded
outside the inbound line, the spot of the kick is the nearest inbound line.
(b) After the ball is kicked, it must not touch the ground or any player of the offensive team
before it passes through the goal.
(c) The entire ball must pass through the vertical plane of the goal, which is the area above the
crossbar and between the uprights or, if above the uprights, between their outside edges. If
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the ball passes through the goal and returns through the goal without striking the ground or
some object or person beyond the goal, the attempt is unsuccessful.
ARTICLE 2. MISSED FIELD GOALS. (11-4-2)
If there is a missed field-goal attempt, and the ball has not been touched by the receivers
beyond the line of scrimmage in the field of play, or in the end zone before the ball has touched
the ground in the end zone, the following shall apply:
(a) If the spot of the kick was inside the receivers’ 25-yard line, it is the receivers’ ball at the 25-
yard line or
(b) If the spot of the kick was from the receivers’ 25-yard line or beyond the receivers’ 25-yard
line, it is the receivers’ ball at the spot of the kick.
Note: These options apply only if the ball has been beyond the line.
Exceptions:
The special rules pertaining to field goals in (a) and (b) are not applicable, and all general
rules for a scrimmage kick, other than penalty enforcements, will apply when there is a
missed field goal and:
(1) the ball is touched by the receivers beyond the line of scrimmage in the field of play, or in
the end zone before the ball has become dead; or
(2) the scrimmage kick ends behind the line of scrimmage, and the ball has not been
touched by the receivers beyond the line of scrimmage.
Note: If a foul occurs during an unsuccessful field-goal attempt in (1) or (2) above, Rule
14-4-8 governs.
SUPPLEMENTAL NOTES:
(1) If the receivers do not touch the ball beyond the line of scrimmage in the field of play or in
the end zone, the ball is dead as soon as it touches the ground in the end zone, and it is
the receivers’ ball at the spot of the kick, or at the 25-yard line if the attempt was from
inside the 25-yard line.
(2) If the ball goes out of bounds after it is first touched by the receivers beyond the line of
scrimmage in the field of play, it is the receivers’ ball at the out-of-bounds spot.
(3) If the receivers first touch the ball beyond the line of scrimmage in the field of play or in
the end zone, and the kickers recover, the ball belongs to the kickers at the spot of
recovery. If the recovery is in the end zone, it is a touchdown.
(4) If the receivers first touch the ball beyond the line of scrimmage in the field of play, and
without any new impetus, the ball rolls into the end zone where it is declared dead in the
possession of the receivers, it is a touchback.
(5) For a successful field goal, or for an unsuccessful attempt that does not land in the field
of play, the maximum amount of time that can run off the game clock is five seconds.
ARTICLE 3. FAIR-CATCH KICK. (11-4-3)
The rules for a field-goal attempt from scrimmage apply to a field-goal attempt following a Fair
Catch (a Fair-Catch Kick).
Exceptions:
(1) The fair-catch kick line for the kicking team is the yard line through the most forward point
from which the ball is kicked.
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(2) The fair-catch kick line for the receiving team is the yard line 10 yards in advance of the
kicking team’s fair-catch kick line.
Note: Though a fair-catch kick is not a free kick, the rules for a free-kick formation apply (6-
2-3). However, the kicking team cannot possess the ball unless it has first been touched or
possessed by the receivers.
ARTICLE 4. NO TEE. (11-4-4)
An artificial or manufactured tee shall not be permitted to assist in the execution of a field goal.
ARTICLE 5. FOREIGN ARTICLES. (11-4-5)
No article of any type may be placed on the field, or used in any manner, to assist a player in
the execution of a field goal attempt. Nothing other than a hand or finger may be used to mark
the spot or the vicinity of a kick or hold.
ARTICLE 6. BALL NEXT IN PLAY. (11-4-6)
After a successful field goal, the team scored upon will receive the kickoff.
SECTION 5 SAFETY (11-5)
ARTICLE 1. SAFETY. (11-5-1)
It is a Safety:
(a) when the defense accepts a penalty for a foul by the offense in its own end zone; or
(b) when an impetus by a team sends the ball behind its own goal line, and the ball is dead in
the end zone in its possession, or the ball is out of bounds behind the goal line.
Exceptions:
It is not a safety:
(1) If a forward pass from behind the line of scrimmage is incomplete in the end zone.
(2) If a defensive player, in the field of play, intercepts a pass or catches or recovers a
fumble, backward pass, scrimmage kick, free kick, or fair catch kick, and his original
momentum carries him into his end zone where the ball is declared dead in his team’s
possession. The ball belongs to the defensive team at the spot where the player’s foot or
other body part touched the ground to establish possession. If that spot is in the end
zone, the result of the play is a touchback, even if the ball is not on, above, or beyond the
goal line.
(a) If a player of the team which intercepts, catches, or recovers the ball commits a liveball foul in the end zone, it is a safety.
(b) If a player who intercepts, catches, or recovers the ball throws a completed illegal
forward pass from the end zone, the ball remains alive. If his opponent intercepts the
illegal pass thrown from the end zone, the ball remains alive. If he scores, it is a
touchdown.
(c) If a player of the team which intercepts, catches, or recovers the ball commits a foul in
the field of play, and the ball becomes dead in the end zone, the basic spot is the spot
of the change of possession.
(d) If the spot where possession changed is inside the one-yard line, the ball is to be
spotted at the one-yard line.
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Notes:
(1) A ball in the end zone which is carried toward the field of play is still in the end zone until
the entire ball is in the field of play.
(2) The impetus is always attributed to the offense, unless the defense creates a new force
that sends the ball behind its own goal line by muffing a ball which is at rest or nearly at
rest, or by batting or kicking any loose ball.
ARTICLE 2. BALL IN PLAY AFTER SAFETY. (11-5-2)
After a safety, the team scored upon must put the ball in play by a free kick (punt, dropkick, or
placekick) from its 20-yard line unless an extension exception applies. An artificial or
manufactured tee cannot be used.
SECTION 6 ALERNATE POSSESSION OPTION (11-6)
In the 4th quarter only, with the score tied or the scoring team behind, the team that would next
put the ball in play with a free kick may elect to retain possession with one play from scrimmage
from their own 28-yard line. The line to gain will be their 40-yard line. If the line to gain is
reached the team putting the ball in play will retain possession. If the line to gain is not reached
the defense will take possession at the succeeding spot.
The clock will start on the snap (unless the period was extended for an untimed down) and all
normal playing rules will be in effect.
SECTION 7 TOUCHBACK (11-7)
Note: A touchback, while not a score, is included in this rule because, like scoring plays, it is
a case of a ball that is dead on or behind a goal line.
ARTICLE 1. DEFINITION. (11-7-1)
It is a Touchback if the ball is dead on or behind the goal line a team is defending, provided that
the impetus comes from an opponent, and that it is not a touchdown or an incomplete forward
pass.
Note: A ball in the end zone which is carried toward the field of play is still in the end zone
until the entire ball is in the field of play.
ARTICLE 2. TOUCHBACK SITUATIONS. (11-7-2)
When a team provides the impetus (3-17) that sends a loose ball behind its opponent’s goal
line, it is a touchback:
(a) if the ball is dead in the opponent’s possession in its end zone (see 8-7-3-Item 4-a for fumble
exception);
(b) if the ball is out of bounds behind the goal line;
(c) if a scrimmage kick has not been touched by a player of the receiving team beyond the line
of scrimmage, and the ball:
(1) touches the ground on or behind the receiver’s goal line
(2) touches a player of the kicking team who is touching the ground on or behind the
receiver’s goal line
(3) touches a player of the kicking team who has touched the ground on or behind the
receiver’s goal line and has not re-established himself in the field of play (see 11-4-2-b for
exception for a missed field goal from beyond the 25-yard line)
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(d) if any legal or illegal kick touches the receivers’ goal posts, crossbar, or uprights, other than
one which scores a field goal
(e) if the kickers interfere with the opportunity to catch an airborne kick or with a fair catch
behind the receivers’ goal line (10-1 and 10-2)
(f) if a player of the kicking team illegally catches or recovers a scrimmage kick in the field of
play, and carries the ball across the goal line, or touches the goal line with any part of his
body while in possession of the ball. For exception for a missed field goal from beyond the
25-yard line, see 11-4-2-b.
Notes:
(1) If the impetus is a scrimmage kick, and there has been a spot of first touching by the
kickers beyond the receivers’ 25-yard line, the receivers shall have the option of taking
possession of the ball at the spot of first touching.
ARTICLE 3. BALL NEXT IN PLAY. (11-7-3)
After a touchback, the team that has been awarded the touchback next snaps the ball at its 25-
yard line from any point on or between the inbound lines.
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RULE 12 PLAYER CONDUCT
SECTION 1 BLOCKING, USE OF HANDS AND ARMS (12-1)
ARTICLE 1. LEGAL AND ILLEGAL BLOCK. (12-1-1)
A player of either team may block (obstruct or impede) an opponent at any time, provided that
the act is not:
(a) pass interference (see Rule 8, Section 5, Article 1);
(b) illegal contact (see Rule 8, Section 4);
(c) fair catch interference or interference with the opportunity to catch a kick (see Rule 10,
Section 1);
(d) clipping against a non-runner (see Section 2, Article 1);
(e) an illegal chop block (see Section 2, Article 5);
(f) an illegal crackback block (see Section 2, Article 6);
(g) an illegal low block during a free kick, a scrimmage kick, after a change of possession, or
outside the Low Block Zone (see Section 2, Article 4);
(h) unnecessary roughness (see Section 2, Article 8);
(i) roughing the passer (see Section 2, Article 11);
(j) an illegal cut block (see Rule 8, Section 4, Article 5);
(k) roughing the kicker or holder (see Section 2, Articles 12 and 13);
(l) offensive (see Section 1, Article 3(c)) or defensive (Section 1, Article 6) holding;
(m) illegal use of hands (see Section 1, Article 3-a);
(n) an illegal block in the back above the waist (see Section 1, Article 3-b);
(o) tripping (see Section 1, Article 8);
(p) an illegal peel back block (see Section 2, Article 2); or
(q) an illegal blindside block (see Section 2, Article 7).
ARTICLE 2. LEGAL BLOCK BY OFFENSIVE PLAYER. (12-1-2)
An offensive player is permitted to block an opponent by contacting him with his head,
shoulders, hands, and/or outer surface of the forearm, or with any other part of his body that is
not prohibited by another rule.
A blocker may use his arms, or open or closed hands, to contact an opponent on or outside the
opponent’s frame (the body of an opponent below the neck that is presented to the blocker),
provided that he does not materially restrict him. The blocker must work immediately to bring his
hands inside the opponent’s frame, and as the play develops, the blocker is permitted to work
for and maintain his position against an opponent, provided that he does not illegally clip or
illegally push from behind.
An offensive player is permitted to use his hands or arms to restrict an opponent:
(a) If he is a runner. A runner may ward off opponents with his hands and arms. He may also
lay his hand on a teammate or push him into an opponent, but he may not grasp or hold on
to a teammate.
(b) During a loose ball that has touched the ground. An offensive player may use his
hands/arms legally to block or otherwise push or pull an opponent out of the way in a
personal attempt to recover the ball. See specific fumble, pass, or kick rules and especially
6-2-1.
(c) A kicking team player. See 6-2-1 and 9-1-4 for blocking restrictions during a kick.
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ARTICLE 3. ILLEGAL BLOCK BY OFFENSIVE PLAYER. (12-1-3)
It is a foul if an offensive blocker:
(a) Thrusts his hands forward above the frame of an opponent to forcibly contact him on the
head, neck, or face; or
Note: Contact in close-line play is not a foul, unless it is direct and forcible, or prolonged.
Penalty: For illegal use of hands by the offense: Loss of 10 yards.
(b) Blocks an opponent (from behind) in the back above the opponent’s waist or uses his hands
or arms to push an opponent from behind in a manner that affects his movement, except in
close-line play.
Note: The prohibition also applies to a player of the kicking team while the ball is in flight
during a free kick or scrimmage kick.
The use of hands on the back is not a foul when:
(1) a player is making a personal attempt to recover a loose ball;
(2) the opponent turns away from the blocker when contact is imminent;
(3) both of the blocker’s hands are on the opponent’s side. (If either hand is on the back, it is a
foul.)
Penalty: For an illegal block in the back above the waist by the offense: Loss of 10 yards.
(c) Use his hands or arms to materially restrict or alter the defender’s path or angle of pursuit. It
is a foul regardless of whether the blocker’s hands are inside or outside the frame of the
defender’s body. Material restrictions include but are not limited to:
(1) grabbing or tackling an opponent;
(2) hooking, jerking, twisting, or turning him; or
(3) pulling him to the ground.
Penalty: For holding by the offense: Loss of 10 yards.
Blocking Notes:
(1) When a defensive player is held by an offensive player during the following situations,
Offensive Holding will not be called:
(a) if the runner is being tackled simultaneously by any defensive player;
(b) if the runner simultaneously goes out of bounds;
(c) if a Fair Catch is made simultaneously;
(d) if the action clearly occurs after a forward pass has been thrown to a receiver beyond
the line of scrimmage;
(e) if the action occurs away from the point of attack and not within close line play;
(f) if a free kick results in a touchback;
(g) if a scrimmage kick simultaneously becomes a touchback;
(h) if the action is part of a double-team block, unless the defender splits the double
team, gets to the outside of either blocker, or is taken to the ground; or
(i) if, during a defensive charge, a defensive player uses a “rip” technique that puts an
offensive player in a position that would normally be holding.
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Exception: Holding will be called if the defender’s feet are taken away from him by the
blocker’s action.
(2) If a blocker falls on or pushes down a defender whose momentum is carrying him to the
ground, Offensive Holding will not be called unless the blocker prevents the defender
from rising from the ground.
(3) If the official has not seen the entire action that sends a defender to the ground,
Offensive Holding will not be called.
ARTICLE 4. ASSISTING THE RUNNER AND INTERLOCKING INTERFERENCE. (12-1-4)
No offensive player may:
(a) pull a runner in any direction at any time;
(b) use interlocking interference, by grasping a teammate or by using his hands or arms to
encircle the body of a teammate in an effort to block an opponent; or
(c) push or throw his body against a teammate to aid him in an attempt to obstruct an opponent
or to recover a loose ball.
Penalty: For assisting the runner, interlocking interference, or illegal use of hands, arms,
or body by the offense: Loss of 10 yards.
ARTICLE 5. LEGAL USE OF HANDS OR ARMS BY DEFENSE. (12-1-5)
A defensive player may use his hands, arms, or body to push, pull, or ward off offensive players:
(a) when he is defending himself against an obstructing opponent while attempting to reach the
runner;
(b) when an opponent is obviously attempting to block him;
(c) in a personal attempt to reach a loose ball that has touched the ground during a backward
pass, fumble, or kick;
(d) during a forward pass that has crossed the neutral zone and has been touched by any
player; and
Exceptions:
(1) An eligible receiver is considered to be an obstructing opponent only to a point five yards
beyond the line of scrimmage unless the player who receives the snap demonstrates no
further intention to pass the ball. See 8-4-2, 8-4-3, and 8-4-7 for rules applicable to Illegal
Contact with an eligible receiver.
(2) See 8-4-5 for rules applicable for an Illegal Cut Block against an eligible receiver.
(e) during a kick. See 6-2-1 and 9-1-4 for blocking restrictions during a kick.
ARTICLE 6. DEFENSIVE HOLDING. (12-1-6)
It is a foul for defensive holding if:
(a) a defensive player tackles or holds any opponent other than a runner, except as
permitted in Article 5.
Note: Any offensive player who pretends to possess the ball, and/or one to whom a
teammate pretends to give the ball, may be tackled until he crosses the line of scrimmage
between the tackles of a normal tight offensive line.
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(b) during a punt, field goal attempt, or Try-kick attempt, B1 grabs and pulls an offensive
player out of the way, allowing B2 to shoot the gap (pull-and-shoot) in an attempt to block
an apparent kick, except if B1 is advancing toward the kicker.
Penalty: For defensive holding: Loss of five yards and an automatic first down.
ARTICLE 7. ILLEGAL USE OF HANDS BY DEFENSE. (12-1-7)
It is a foul if a defensive player thrusts his hands or arms forward above the frame of an
opponent to forcibly contact him on the neck, face, or head.
Note: Contact in close-line play is not a foul, unless it is direct and forcible, or prolonged.
Penalty: For Illegal Use of Hands by the Defense: Loss of five yards and an automatic
first down.
SECTION 2 PERSONAL FOULS (12-2)
ARTICLE 1. CLIPPING. (12-2-1)
There shall be no clipping against a non-runner. This does not apply to offensive blocking in
close-line play where it is legal to clip above the knee(s), but it is illegal to clip at or below the
knee(s). See 3-7, close-line play.
Exception: An offensive lineman may not clip a defender above the knees who, at the snap,
is aligned on the line of scrimmage opposite another offensive lineman who is more than one
position away, and the defender is responding to the flow of the ball away from the blocker.
Example: An offensive tackle cannot clip a defensive nose tackle on a sweep away.
Note: If there is a block from the side, or if an opponent turns his back as the block is being
made, it is not clipping if the opponent is able to see or ward off the block, provided the
blocker does not roll up on the back or side of the opponent’s leg(s).
If an offensive player’s block (legal or illegal) is followed by the blocker rolling up on the back or
side of the leg(s) of a defender, it is clipping, including in close-line play.
When a blocker, who is moving in the same direction as an opponent, initially contacts the
opponent on his side, and subsequently contacts the opponent below his waist from behind, it is
not clipping if the contact is continuous.
Clipping shall not be called if an official has not observed the blocker’s initial contact with an
opponent.
Penalty: For illegal clipping: Loss of 15 yards.
ARTICLE 2. ILLEGAL “PEEL BACK” BLOCK. (12-2-2)
An offensive player cannot initiate contact on the side and below the waist against an opponent
if:
(a) the blocker is moving toward his own end line; and
(b) he approaches the opponent from behind or from the side.
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Note: If the near shoulder of the blocker completely crosses the front of both of his
opponent’s legs, the “peel back” block is legal.
Penalty: For an Illegal “Peel Back” Block: Loss of 15 yards.
ARTICLE 3. ILLEGAL CUT BLOCK. See 8-4-5. (12-2-3)
ARTICLE 4. BLOCKING BELOW THE WAIST. (12-2-4)
Blocks below the waist are prohibited in the following situations:
(a) By players of either team after a change of possession; or
(b) By players of the kicking team after a Free Kick, Safety Kick, Fair-Catch Kick, Punt, or FieldGoal Attempt; or
(c) By players of the receiving team during a down in which there is a Free Kick, Safety Kick,
Fair-Catch Kick, Punt, or Field- Goal Attempt.
(d) By players of either team during a scrimmage down prior to a change of possession unless
the contact occurs in the Low Block Zone. (Note: Players are prohibited from initiating
contact below the waist of an opponent outside the Low Block Zone, except against a runner
or a player who is attempting to catch a forward or backward pass).
Note: The following blocking restrictions also apply in the Low Block Zone:
(i) Illegal cut block. See 8-4-5.
(ii) Clipping. See 12-2-1.
(iii) “Peel Back” Block. See 12-2-2.
(iv) Chop Block. See 12-2-5
(v) Crackback Block. See 12-2-6.
Penalty: For illegally blocking below the waist: Loss of 15 yards.
ARTICLE 5. CHOP BLOCK. (12-2-5)
All Chop Blocks are illegal. A Chop Block is a high/low double-team block by the offense in
which one offensive player (designated as A1 for purposes of this rule) blocks a defensive
player in the area of the thigh or lower while another offensive player (A2) engages that same
defensive player above the waist. The order of the blocks is irrelevant.
Illegal Chop Blocks include, but are not limited to, the following situations:
Forward pass plays and kicking plays:
(a) A1 chops a defensive player while the defensive player is physically engaged above the
waist by the blocking attempt of A2.
(b) A2 physically engages a defensive player above the waist with a blocking attempt, and
A1 chops the defensive player after the contact by A2 has been broken and while A2 is
still confronting the defensive player.
(c) A1 chops a defensive player while A2 confronts the defensive player in a pass-blocking
posture but is not physically engaged with the defensive player (a “lure”).
(d) A1 blocks a defensive player in the area of the thigh or lower, and A2, simultaneously or
immediately after the block by A1, engages the defensive player high (“reverse chop”).
(e) A1 is lined up in the backfield at the snap and subsequently chops a defensive player
engaged above the waist by A2.
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(f) A1, an offensive lineman, chops a defensive player after the defensive player has been
engaged by A2 (high or low).
Note: It is not a foul if the defender initiates the contact with the blocker, or if the blocker is
trying to slip or escape from the defender, and any engagement with him is incidental.
Penalty: For Chop Block: Loss of 15 yards.
ARTICLE 6. ILLEGAL CRACKBACK BLOCK. (12-2-6)
Item 1. Definition. It is an Illegal Crackback Block if the following conditions are fulfilled:
The block occurs with an area five yards on either side of the line of scrimmage, including within
close-line play, by an offensive player who is moving toward the position from which the ball was
snapped, and:
(a) the offensive player was in a set position and aligned more than two yards outside an
offensive tackle (flexed) when the ball was snapped; or
(b) the offensive player was in a backfield position when the ball was snapped and moved to a
position more than two yards outside an offensive tackle; or
(c) the offensive player was in a backfield position and in motion when the ball was snapped.
Item 2. Prohibited Contact. The following is prohibited against a player who is the recipient of
a Crackback Block:
(a) Contacting him below the waist;
(b) forcibly hitting his head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder, even if
the initial contact is lower than the player’s neck;
(c) lowering the head and making forcible contact with the crown of the helmet against any part
of the defensive player’s body; or
(d) illegally launching into him. It is an illegal launch if a player (i) leaves both feet prior to
contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent, and (ii) uses any part of his helmet
to initiate forcible contact against any part of his opponent’s body. (This does not apply to
contact against a runner, unless the runner is still considered to be a defenseless player, as
defined in Article 9.)
Note: A player who initiates contact against such an opponent is responsible for avoiding
an illegal act. A standard of strict liability applies for any contact against an opponent,
even if his body position is in motion, and irrespective of any acts by him, such as
ducking his head or curling up his body in anticipation of contact.
Penalty: For an Illegal crackback block: Loss of 15 yards.
ARTICLE 7. BLINDSIDE BLOCK. (12-2-7)
It is a foul if a player initiates a block when his path is toward or parallel to his own end line and
makes forcible contact to his opponent with his helmet, forearm, or shoulder, unless the contact
occurs in close-line play before the ball leaves the area. The ball is not considered to have left
that area if the player who takes the snap, either from a shotgun position or from under center,
retreats in the pocket immediately or with a slight delay, and hands the ball to another player, or
runs with the ball himself during a designed play. Any forcible contact in “close-line play” is still
subject to the restrictions for crackback and peel back blocks.
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Penalty: For a Blindside Block: Loss of 15 yards.
ARTICLE 8. UNNECESSARY ROUGHNESS. (12-2-8)
There shall be no unnecessary roughness. This shall include, but will not be limited to:
(a) using the foot or any part of the leg to strike an opponent with a whipping motion (leg whip);
(b) forcibly contacting a runner when he is out of bounds;
Note: Defensive players must make an effort to avoid contact. Players on defense are
responsible for knowing when a runner has crossed the boundary line, except in doubtful
cases where he might step on a boundary line and continue parallel with it.
(c) a player of the receiving team who has gone out of bounds and blocks a kicking team player
out of bounds during the kick. If this occurs on a kick from scrimmage, post-possession rules
will apply if appropriate;
(d) running, diving into, or throwing the body against or on a runner whose forward progress has
been stopped, who has slid feet first, or who has declared himself down by going to the
ground untouched and has made no attempt to advance;
(e) running, diving into, or throwing the body against or on any player on the ground either
before or after the ball is dead;
(f) throwing the runner to the ground after the ball is dead;
(g) unnecessarily running, diving into, cutting, or throwing the body against or on a player who
(1) is out of the play or (2) should not have reasonably anticipated such contact by an
opponent, before or after the ball is dead;
(h) pulling an opponent off a pile of players in an aggressive or forcible manner; or
(i) a kicker/punter, who is standing still or fading backward after the ball has been kicked, is out
of the play and must not be unnecessarily contacted by the receiving team through the end
of the down or until he assumes a distinctly defensive position. However, a kicker/punter is a
defenseless player through the conclusion of the down.
Penalty: For unnecessary roughness: Loss of 15 yards. The player may be disqualified if
the action is judged by the official(s) to be flagrant. If the foul is by the defense, it is also
an automatic first down.
Note: When in question about a roughness call or potentially dangerous tactics, the covering
official(s) should always call unnecessary roughness.
ARTICLE 9. PLAYERS IN A DEFENSELESS POSTURE. (12-2-9)
It is a foul if a player initiates unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless
posture. A player who initiates contact against a defenseless opponent is responsible for
avoiding an illegal act. A standard of strict liability applies for any contact against a defenseless
opponent, even if the opponent is an airborne player who is returning to the ground or whose
body position is otherwise in motion, and irrespective of any acts by the defenseless opponent,
such as ducking his head or curling up his body in anticipation of contact.
(a) Players in a defenseless posture are:
(1) A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass (passing posture).
(2) A receiver running a pass route when the defender approaches from the side or behind. If
the receiver becomes a blocker or assumes a blocking posture, he is no longer a
defenseless player.
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(3) A player attempting to catch a pass who has not had time to clearly become a runner. If
the player is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of an opponent, he
is no longer a defenseless player.
(4) The intended receiver of a pass in the action during and immediately following an
interception or potential interception. If the player is capable of avoiding or warding off the
impending contact of an opponent, he is no longer a defenseless player. Violations of this
provision will be enforced after the interception, and the intercepting team will maintain
possession.
(5) A runner already in the grasp of a tackler and whose forward progress has been stopped.
(6) A kickoff or punt returner attempting to field a kick in the air who has not had time to
clearly become a runner. If the player is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending
contact of an opponent, he is no longer a defenseless player.
(7) A player on the ground.
(8) A kicker/punter during the kick or during the return (Also see Article 8-h for additional
restrictions against a kicker/punter).
(9) A quarterback at any time after a change of possession (Also see Article 11-e for
additional restrictions against a quarterback after a change of possession).
(10) A player who receives a “blindside” block when the path of the blocker is toward or
parallel to his own end line.
(11) The offensive player who attempts a snap during a Field Goal attempt. He is no longer a
defenseless player after he has had an opportunity to defend himself or moves downfield.
(b) Prohibited contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture is:
(1) forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask,
forearm, or shoulder, even if the initial contact is lower than the player’s neck, and
regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless
player by encircling or grasping him;
(2) lowering the head and making forcible contact with the crown of the helmet against any
part of the defenseless player’s body; or
(3) illegally launching into a defenseless opponent. It is an illegal launch if a player (i) leaves
both feet prior to contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent, and (ii) uses
any part of his helmet to initiate forcible contact against any part of his opponent’s body.
(This does not apply to contact against a runner, unless the runner is still considered to
be a defenseless player, as defined in Article 9.)
Penalty: For unnecessary roughness: Loss of 15 yards and an automatic first down. The
player may be disqualified if the action is judged by the official(s) to be flagrant.
ARTICLE 10. IMPERMISSIBLE USE OF THE HELMET. (12-2-10)
It is a foul if a player lowers his head and makes forcible contact with the crown of his helmet
against an opponent.
Penalty: Loss of 15 yards. If the foul is by the defense, it is also an automatic first down.
The player may be disqualified.
ARTICLE 11. ROUGHING THE PASSER. (12-2-11)
Because the act of passing often puts the quarterback (or any other player attempting a pass) in
a position where he is particularly vulnerable to injury, special rules against roughing the passer
apply. The Referee has principal responsibility for enforcing these rules. Any physical acts
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against a player who is in a passing posture (i.e., before, during, or after a pass) which, in the
Referee’s judgment, are unwarranted by the circumstances of the play will be called fouls. The
Referee will be guided by the following principles:
(a) Roughing will be called if, in the Referee’s judgment, a pass rusher clearly should have
known that the ball had already left the passer’s hand before contact was made; pass
rushers are responsible for being aware of the position of the ball in passing situations; the
Referee will use the release of the ball from the passer’s hand as his guideline that the
passer is now fully protected; once a pass has been released by a passer, a rushing
defender may make direct contact with the passer only up through the rusher’s first step after
such release (prior to second step hitting the ground); thereafter the rusher must be making
an attempt to avoid contact and must not continue to “drive through” or otherwise forcibly
contact the passer; incidental or inadvertent contact by a player who is easing up or being
blocked into the passer will not be considered significant.
(b) A rushing defender is prohibited from committing such intimidating and punishing acts as
“stuffing” a passer into the ground or unnecessarily wrestling or driving him down after the
passer has thrown the ball, even if the rusher makes his initial contact with the passer within
the one-step limitation provided for in (a) above. When tackling a passer who is in a
defenseless posture (e.g., during or just after throwing a pass), a defensive player must not
unnecessarily or violently throw him down and land on top of him with all or most of the
defender’s weight. Instead, the defensive player must strive to wrap up the passer with the
defensive player’s arms and not land on the passer with all or most of his body weight.
(c) In covering the passer position, Referees will be particularly alert to fouls in which defenders
impermissibly use the helmet and/or facemask to hit the passer, or use hands, arms, or other
parts of the body to hit the passer forcibly in the head or neck area (see also the other
unnecessary roughness rules covering these subjects). A defensive player must not use his
helmet against a passer who is in a defenseless posture—for example, (1) forcibly hitting the
passer’s head or neck area with the helmet or facemask, even if the initial contact of the
defender’s helmet or facemask is lower than the passer’s neck, and regardless of whether
the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the passer by encircling or grasping him; or
(2) lowering the head and making forcible contact with any part of the helmet against any
part of the passer’s body. This rule does not prohibit incidental contact by the mask or the
helmet in the course of a conventional tackle on a passer.
(d) A rushing defender is prohibited from forcibly hitting in the knee area or below a passer who
has one or both feet on the ground, even if the initial contact is above the knee. It is not a
foul if the defender is blocked (or fouled) into the passer and has no opportunity to avoid him.
A defender cannot initiate a roll or lunge and forcibly hit the passer in the knee area or
below, even if he is being contacted by another player. It is not a foul if the defender swipes
or grabs a passer in the knee area or below in an attempt to tackle him, provided he does
not make forcible contact with the helmet, shoulder, chest, or forearm.
(e) A passer who is standing still or fading backward after the ball has left his hand is obviously
out of the play and must not be unnecessarily contacted by an opponent through the end of
the down or until the passer becomes a blocker, or a runner, or, in the event of a change of
possession during the down, until he assumes a distinctly defensive position. However, at
any time after the change of possession, it is a foul if:
(1) an opponent forcibly hits the quarterback’s head or neck area with his helmet, facemask,
forearm, or shoulder
(2) if an opponent lowers his head and makes forcible contact with the crown of his helmet
against any part of the passer’s body. This provision does not prohibit incidental contact
by the mask or the helmet in the course of a conventional block.
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(f) When the passer goes outside the pocket area and either continues moving with the ball
(without attempting to advance the ball as a runner) or throws while on the run, he loses the
protection of the one-step rule provided for in (a) above, and the protection against a low hit
provided for in (d) above, but he remains covered by all the other special protections
afforded to a passer in the pocket (b, c, and e), as well as the regular unnecessary
roughness rules applicable to all player positions. If the passer stops behind the line and
clearly establishes a passing posture, he will then be covered by all of the special protections
for passers.
(g) The Game Official must blow the play dead as soon as the passer is clearly in the grasp and
control of any tackler behind the line, and the passer’s safety is in jeopardy.
Penalty: For Roughing the Passer: Loss of 15 yards and an automatic first down;
disqualification, if flagrant.
ARTICLE 12. ROUGHING/RUNNING INTO THE KICKER. (12-2-12)
No defensive player may run into or rough a kicker who kicks from behind the line unless such
contact:
(a) is incidental to and occurs after the defender has touched the kick in flight, or occurs
simultaneously with the kicker kicking the ball;
(b) is caused by the kicker’s own motions;
(c) occurs during a quick kick or a rugby-style kick;
(d) occurs during or after a run behind the line;
(e) occurs after the kicker recovers a loose ball on the ground;
(f) occurs because a defender is pushed or blocked (causing a change of direction) into the
kicker; or
(g) is the result of a foul by an opponent
Item 1. Roughing the kicker. It is a foul for roughing the kicker if a defensive player:
(a) contacts the plant leg of the kicker while his kicking leg is still in the air; or
(b) slides into or contacts the kicker when both of the kicker’s feet are on the ground. It is not a
foul if the contact is not severe, or if the kicker returns both feet to the ground prior to the
contact and falls over a defender on the ground
Note: When in doubt, it is a foul for roughing the kicker.
Item 2. Running into the Kicker. It is a foul for running into the kicker if a defensive player:
(a) contacts the kicking leg or foot of the kicker, even if the kicker is airborne when the contact
occurs; or
(b) slides under the kicker, preventing him from returning both feet to the ground
Penalties:
(1) For roughing the kicker: Loss of 15 yards from the previous spot (personal foul) and
an automatic first down. The player may be disqualified if the action is flagrant.
(2) For running into the kicker: Loss of five yards from the previous spot (not a personal
foul). There is not an automatic first down.
ARTICLE 13. ROUGHING THE HOLDER. (12-2-13)
It is a foul for roughing the holder if a defensive player forcibly contacts the holder of a placekick,
unless the contact:
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(a) is incidental and occurs after the defender has touched the kick in flight;
(b) is caused because a defender is blocked into the holder; or
(c) occurs after the holder recovers a ball that has touched the ground
Penalty: For roughing the holder: Loss of 15 yards from the previous spot (personal foul)
and an automatic first down. The player may be disqualified if the action is flagrant.
Notes:
(1) When two defensive players are making a bona fide attempt to block a kick from
scrimmage (punt, drop kick, and/or placekick), and one of them runs into the kicker or
holder after the ball has left the kicker’s foot at the same instant the second player blocks
the kick, the foul for running into the kicker or holder shall not be enforced, unless in the
judgment of the Referee, the player running into the kicker or holder was clearly the direct
cause of the kick being blocked.
ARTICLE 14. STRIKING, KICKING, TRIPPING OR KNEEING OPPONENTS. (12-2-14)
All players are prohibited from:
(a) striking an opponent with his fists;
(b) kicking or kneeing an opponent;
(c) tripping an opponent, including the runner;
(d) striking, swinging at, or clubbing the head, neck, or face of an opponent with the wrist(s),
arm(s), elbow(s), or hand(s); or
Exceptions: Contact to the head, neck, or face of an opponent with the palm of the hand is
permitted:
(1) by a defensive player who is attempting to ward off an offensive player at the line of
scrimmage, provided that it is not a repeated act against the same opponent during any
one contact; or
(2) by any player in a personal attempt to recover a loose ball.
(e) striking an opponent below the shoulders with his forearm or elbows by turning the trunk of
his body at the waist, or by pivoting, or by any other way that is clearly unnecessary.
Penalty: Loss of 15 yards. If any of the fouls is judged by the official(s) to be flagrant, the
offender may be disqualified as long as the entire action is observed by the official(s). If
the foul is by the defense, it is also an automatic first down.
ARTICLE 15. TWIST, PULL, OR TURN FACEMASK OR HELMET OPENING. (12-2-15)
No player shall grasp and control, twist, turn, push, or pull the facemask or helmet opening of an
opponent in any direction.
Note: If a player grasps an opponent’s facemask or helmet opening, he must immediately
release it. If he does not immediately release it and controls his opponent, it is a foul.
Penalty: For twisting, turning, pushing, pulling, or controlling the mask or helmet
opening: Loss of 15 yards. The player may be disqualified if the action is flagrant. If the
foul is by the defense, it is also an automatic first down.
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ARTICLE 16. HORSE-COLLAR TACKLE. (12-2-16)
No player shall grab the inside collar of the back or the side of the shoulder pads or jersey, or
grab the jersey at the name plate or above, and pull the runner toward the ground. This does not
apply to a runner who is in the pocket or in the area defined by close-line play or to a
quarterback who is in the pocket.
Note: It is not necessary for a player to pull the runner completely to the ground in order for
the act to be illegal. If his knees are buckled by the action, it is a foul, even if the runner is
not pulled completely to the ground.
Penalty: For a Horse-Collar Tackle: Loss of 15 yards and an automatic first down.
ARTICLE 17. USE OF HELMET AS A WEAPON. (12-2-17)
A player may not use a helmet that is no longer worn by anyone as a weapon to strike, swing at,
or throw at an opponent.
Penalty: For illegal use of a helmet as a weapon: Loss of 15 yards and automatic
disqualification. If the foul is by the defense, it is also an automatic first down.
ARTICLE 18. OTHER PERSONAL FOULS. (12-2-18)
Fouls that include a 15-yard penalty but are not listed in this Section or in Section 3, are
considered Personal Fouls for penalty enforcement purposes.
SECTION 3 UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT (12-3)
ARTICLE 1. PROHIBITED ACTS. (12-3-1)
There shall be no unsportsmanlike conduct. This applies to any act which is contrary to the
generally understood principles of sportsmanship. Such acts specifically include, among others:
(a) Throwing a punch, or a forearm, or kicking at an opponent, even though no contact is made.
(b) Using abusive, threatening, or insulting language or gestures to opponents, teammates,
officials, or representatives of the League.
(c) Using baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams.
(d) Any violent gesture, or an act that is sexually suggestive or offensive.
(e) Unnecessary physical contact with a game official. Under no circumstance is a player
allowed to shove, push, or strike an official in an offensive, disrespectful, or unsportsmanlike
manner. The player shall be disqualified from the game, and any such action must be
reported to the Football Operations Department .
Note: Violations of (a), (b), (c), (d), and (e) will be penalized if they occur anywhere in the
stadium in which the officials have jurisdiction.
(f) Prolonged or excessive celebrations or demonstrations by an individual player or multiple
players.
(g) Using any object as a prop or possessing any foreign or extraneous object(s) that are not
part of the uniform on the field or the sideline during the game, other than the football after a
scoring play or change of possession. If any foreign object(s) are deemed a safety hazard by
the game officials, in addition to a yardage penalty, the player will be subject to ejection from
the game, whether he uses the object or not.
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Note: Violations of (f) and (g) will be penalized if they occur anywhere on the field unless
they occur in the bench area.
(h) Removal of his helmet by a player in the field of play or the end zone during a confrontation
with a game official or any other player.
Penalty: (for (a) through (h)): Loss of 15 yards from the succeeding spot or whatever spot
the Referee, after consulting with the crew, deems equitable. If the foul is by the defense,
it is also an automatic first down.
Two violations of (a), (b), (c), (d) or (h) (above) by the same player, which occur before or during
the game, will result in disqualification in addition to the yardage penalty. Any violations at the
game site on the day of the game, including postgame, may result in discipline by the Football
Operations Department .
(i) Using acts or words by the defensive team that are designed to disconcert an offensive team
at the snap. An official must blow his whistle immediately to stop play.
(j) Concealing the ball underneath the uniform or using any article of equipment to simulate a
ball.
(k) Using entering substitutes, legally returning players, substitutes on sidelines, or withdrawn
players to confuse opponents, including lingering by players leaving the field after being
replaced by a substitute. See 5-2.
(l) An offensive player lining up or going in motion less than five yards from the sideline in front
of his team’s designated bench area in an attempt to confuse the opponent. However, an
offensive player is permitted to line up less than five yards from the sidelines on the same
side as his team’s player bench, provided he is not in front of the designated bench area.
(m)Attempting to conserve time after the two-minute warning of either half by repeatedly
violating the substitution rule while the ball is dead, and time is in. See 4-7-2.
(n) Two successive delay-of-game penalties during the same down when time is in.
(o) Jumping or standing on a teammate or opponent to block or attempt to block an opponent’s
kick or apparent kick.
(p) Placing a hand or hands on a teammate or opponent to gain additional height to block or
attempt to block an opponent’s kick or apparent kick.
(q) Picking up a teammate to block or attempt to block an opponent’s kick or apparent kick.
(r) Running forward and leaping across the line of scrimmage in an obvious attempt to block a
field goal or Try Kick, or apparent kick, unless the leaping player was in a stationary
position within one yard of the on the line of scrimmage when the ball was snapped. A player
who is more than one yard behind the line of scrimmage before or at the snap, may run
forward and leap, provided he does not cross the line of scrimmage or land on players.
(s) Goaltending by a defensive player leaping up to deflect a kick as it passes above the
crossbar of a goalpost. The referee may award three points for a palpably unfair act.
(t) A punter, placekicker, or holder who simulates being roughed or run into by a defensive
player.
(u) If a member of the kicking team is forced out of bounds, or goes out of bounds voluntarily,
and does not attempt to return inbounds in a reasonable amount of time.
(v) Attempting to call an excess or illegal timeout to “freeze” a kicker prior to a field goal attempt
or a Try Kick when:
(1) a team has already been charged a timeout during the same dead ball period
(2) a team has exhausted its three charged team timeouts that are permitted in a half
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If an attempt is made to call a timeout in these situations, the officials shall not grant a
timeout, play will continue, and a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct shall be enforced after
the down has been completed. The penalty shall be enforced as a dead-ball foul if a timeout
is inadvertently granted.
Penalty: For unsportsmanlike conduct (for (i) through (v)): Loss of 15 yards from:
(a) the succeeding spot if the ball is dead; or
(b) the previous spot if the ball was in play.
If the infraction is flagrant, the player is also disqualified. If the foul is by the defense, it is also an
automatic first down.
ARTICLE 2. FOULS TO PREVENT SCORE. (12-3-2)
The defense shall not commit successive or repeated fouls to prevent a score.
Penalty: For successive or repeated fouls to prevent a score: If the violation is repeated
after a warning, the score involved is awarded to the offensive team.
ARTICLE 3. INTENTIONAL FOULS TO MANIPULATE GAME CLOCK. (12-3-3)
A team may not commit multiple fouls during the same down in an attempt to manipulate the
game clock.
Penalty: For multiple fouls to run off time from the game clock: Loss of 15 yards, and the
game clock will be reset to where it was at the snap. After the penalty is enforced, the
game clock will start on the next snap.
ARTICLE 4. PALPABLY UNFAIR ACT. (12-3-4)
A player or substitute shall not interfere with play by any act which is palpably unfair.
Penalty: For a palpably unfair act: Offender may be disqualified. The Referee, after
consulting the officiating crew, enforces any such distance penalty as they consider
equitable and irrespective of any other specified code penalty. The Referee may award a
score.
SECTION 4 AUTOMATIC DISQUALIFICATION (12-4)
ARTICLE 1. MULTIPLE UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT FOULS. (12-4-1)
In addition to any penalty referenced elsewhere in the Official Playing Rules, a player will be
automatically disqualified if that player is penalized twice in the same game for committing one
of the unsportsmanlike conduct fouls listed below, or a combination of the fouls listed below:
(a) Throwing a punch, or a forearm, or kicking at an opponent, even though no contact is made.
(b) Using abusive, threatening, or insulting language or gestures to opponents, teammates,
officials, or representatives of the League.
(c) Using baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams.
(d) Any violent gesture, or an act that is sexually suggestive or offensive.
(e) Removal of his helmet by a player in the field of play or the end zone during a confrontation
with a game official or any other player.
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The player will be automatically disqualified regardless of whether the penalty is accepted or
declined by the opponent. The fouls do not have to be judged by the official to be flagrant for the
automatic disqualification to occur, and any foul that occurs during the pregame warm-up period
will carry over into the game. Nothing in this section supersedes the Game Official’s discretion
to judge a foul to be flagrant and disqualify the player based on one occurrence.
Note: This rule also applies to non-player personnel (e.g., management personnel, coaches,
trainers, equipment personnel).
SECTION 5 ILLEGAL BATS AND KICKS (12-5)
ARTICLE 1. ILLEGAL BAT. (12-5-1)
It is an illegal bat if:
(a) any player bats or punches a loose ball in the field of play toward his opponent’s goal line
(b) any player bats or punches a loose ball (that has touched the ground) in any direction, if it is
in either end zone
(c) an offensive player bats a backward pass in flight toward his opponent’s goal line
Exception: A forward pass in flight may be tipped, batted, or deflected in any direction by
any eligible player at any time.
Note: If a forward pass that is controlled by a player prior to completing the catch is thrown
forward, it is an illegal bat. If it is caught by a teammate or intercepted by an opponent, the
ball remains alive. If it is not caught, the ball is dead when it hits the ground.
Penalty: For illegal batting or punching the ball: Loss of 10 yards. If the foul is by Team A
before possession changes during a scrimmage down: Loss of down and loss of 10
yards except for a foul by Team A beyond the line of scrimmage during a scrimmage
kick, in which case there is no loss of down.
Article 2. ILLEGALLY KICKING BALL. (12-5-2)
No player may deliberately kick a loose ball or a ball that is in a player’s possession.
Penalty: For illegally kicking the ball: Loss of 10 yards. If the foul is by Team A before
possession changes during a scrimmage down: Loss of down and loss of 10 yards
except for a foul by Team A beyond the line of scrimmage during a scrimmage kick, in
which case there is no loss of down.
Notes:
(1) If a loose ball is unintentionally touched by any part of a player’s leg (including the knee),
it is not considered kicking and is treated as touching.
(2) If the penalty for an illegal bat or kick is declined, the procedure is the same as though
the ball had been muffed. However, if the act (impetus) sends the ball behind a goal line,
3-17 applies.
(3) The penalty for Articles 1 and 3 does not preclude a penalty for a palpably unfair act.
(4) The ball is not dead when an illegally kicked ball is recovered unless another rule
prescribes otherwise.
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RULE 13 NON-PLAYER CONDUCT
SECTION 1 NON-PLAYER CONDUCT (13-1)
ARTICLE 1. NON-PLAYER FOULS. (13-1-1)
There shall be no unsportsmanlike conduct by a substitute, coach, attendant, or any other nonplayer (entitled to sit on a team’s bench) during any period or timeout (including between
halves).
Notes:
(1) “Loudspeaker” coaching from the sidelines is not permissible.
(2) A player may communicate with a coach provided the coach is in his prescribed area during
dead-ball periods.
(3) It is impermissible for the grounds crew or other team personnel to clear away snow for a
field goal, punt, or kickoff.
ARTICLE 2. TEAM ATTENDANTS MAY ENTER FIELD DURING TIMEOUT. (13-1-2)
Either or both team attendants and their helpers may enter the field to attend to their team
during a team timeout by either team. No other non-player may come on the field without the
Referee’s permission unless he is an incoming substitute (5-2-2).
During any team timeout, all playing rules continue in force. Representatives of either team are
prohibited from entering the field unless they are incoming substitutes, or team attendants or
trainers entering to provide for the welfare of a player, and any game-type activities are
prohibited on the field. The Head Coach may enter the field to check on the welfare of a player
who is injured, but no assistant coach may enter the field.
ARTICLE 3. BENCH CREDENTIALS. (13-1-3)
With the exception of uniformed players eligible to participate in the game, all persons in a
team’s bench area must wear a visible credential clearly marked “BENCH.” Such credentials
must be worn by coaches, players under contract to the applicable club but ineligible to
participate in the game, and team support personnel (trainers, doctors, equipment men). From
time to time, people with game services credentials (e.g., oxygen technicians, ball boys/girls)
and authorized club personnel not regularly assigned to the bench area may be in a team’s
bench area for a brief period without bench credentials. Clubs are prohibited from allowing into
their bench areas any persons who are not officially affiliated with the club or otherwise serving
a necessary game day function.
ARTICLE 4. RESTRICTED AREAS. (13-1-4)
All team personnel must observe the zone restrictions applicable to the bench area and the
border rimming the playing field. The only persons permitted within the solid six-foot white
border (1-1-2) while play is in progress on the field are game officials. For reasons involving the
safety of participating players whose actions may carry them out of bounds, officials’
unobstructed coverage of the game, and spectators’ sightlines to the field, the border rules must
be observed by all coaches and players in the bench area. Violators are subject to penalty by
the officials.
ARTICLE 5. MOVEMENT ON SIDELINES. (13-1-5)
Coaches and other non-participating team personnel (including uniformed players not in the
game at the time) are prohibited from moving laterally along the sidelines any further than the
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points that are 18 yards from the middle of the bench area (i.e., 25-yard lines to left and right of
bench areas when benches are placed on opposite sides of the field). Lateral movement within
the bench area must be behind the solid six-foot white border.
Exception: When the ball is positioned near a goal line, a Head Coach may move
laterally down the sideline outside the bench area to call a team timeout or challenge an
on-field ruling.
ARTICLE 6. NON-BENCH AREAS. (13-1-6)
Clubs are prohibited from allowing into the non-bench areas of field level any persons who have
not been accredited to those locations by the home club’s public relations office for purposes
related to news media coverage, stadium operations, or pregame and halftime entertainment.
The home club is responsible for keeping the field level clear of all unauthorized persons.
Photographers and other personnel accredited for field-level work must not be permitted in the
end zones or any other part of the official playing field while play is in progress.
Penalty: For illegal acts under Articles 1 through 6 above: Loss of 15 yards from team for
whose supposed benefit foul was made. (Unsportsmanlike Conduct).
Enforcement is from:
(a) the succeeding spot if the ball is dead.
(b) whatever spot the Referee, after consulting with the crew, deems equitable, if the ball
was in play.
For a flagrant violation, the Referee may exclude the offender(s) from the playing field
enclosure for the remainder of the game.
ARTICLE 7. PALPABLY UNFAIR ACT (NON-PLAYER). (13-1-7)
A non-player shall not commit any act which is palpably unfair.
Penalty: For a palpably unfair act, see 12-3-4. The Referee, after consulting with the crew,
shall make such ruling as he/she considers equitable (19-1-3). (Unsportsmanlike
Conduct).
Note: Various actions involving a palpably unfair act may arise during a game. In such
cases, the officials may award a distance penalty in accordance with 12-3-4, even when it
does not involve disqualification of a player or substitute. 17-1.
ARTICLE 8. NON-PLAYER PERSONNEL. (13-1-8)
Non-player personnel of a club (e.g., management personnel, coaches, trainers, equipment
personnel) are prohibited from making unnecessary physical contact with or directing abusive,
threatening, or insulting language or gestures at opponents, game officials, or representatives of
the League.
Penalty: Loss of 15 yards. (Unsportsmanlike Conduct). Enforcement is from:
(a) the succeeding spot if the ball is dead;
(b) the previous spot if the ball was in play; or
(c) whatever spot the Referee, after consulting with the crew, deems equitable. (Palpably
Unfair Act).
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Note: Violations which occur before or during the game may result in disqualification in
addition to the yardage penalty. Any violation at the game site on the day of the game,
including postgame, may result in discipline by the League.
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RULE 14 PENALTY ENFORCEMENT
(Governing all cases not otherwise specifically provided for)
SECTION 1 GENERAL RULES (14-1)
ARTICLE 1. REFUSAL OF PENALTIES. (14-1-1)
Unless expressly prohibited, the penalty for any foul may be declined by the offended team and
play proceeds as though no foul had been committed. The yardage distance for any penalty
may be declined, even though the penalty is accepted.
Note: If the defensive team commits a foul during an unsuccessful Try, the offensive team
may decline the distance penalty, and the down is replayed from the previous spot.
Exception: If there is a Double Foul, enforcement is pursuant to Section 5 below.
Note: In all situations, a disqualified or suspended player must be removed, including when
the foul that led to the disqualification or suspension is declined, a penalty for another foul is
chosen (Multiple Foul), or fouls by both teams offset (Double Foul).
ARTICLE 2. NUMBER OF DOWN AFTER PENALTY. (14-1-2)
Item 1. Foul by Team A. If the ball is behind the line to gain after the enforcement of a distance
penalty for a foul by Team A that occurs prior to (between downs) or during a play from
scrimmage, the number of the ensuing down remains the same, unless it is a combination
penalty involving loss of down (see Item 2).
Item 2. Combination Penalty. A combination penalty involving both distance and loss of down
is enforced for the following fouls:
(a) A forward pass from beyond the line (8-1-2-Pen. a)
(b) A forward pass that is intentionally grounded (8-2-1)
(c) Handing the ball forward beyond the line of scrimmage
(d) Batting a Loose Ball (See 12-5-1-Pen.)
(d) Kicking a Loose Ball (See 12-5-2-Pen.)
If a loss-of-down penalty is enforced prior to fourth down, the number of the ensuing down is
one greater than that of the previous down. If it is enforced on fourth down, the ball is awarded
to Team B; if there is a combination penalty on fourth down, the distance penalty is also
enforced.
Item 3. Line to Gain and Change of Possession. If a change (or multiple changes) of
possession is negated by enforcement of a penalty against Team A during a play from
scrimmage, the line to gain for Team A remains the same.
Item 4. Ball in Advance of Line to Gain. If the ball is in advance of the line to gain after the
enforcement of a distance penalty for a foul by Team A during a play from scrimmage, it is firstand-10 for Team A. It is also first-and-10 after enforcement for a Dead Ball Foul (Section 4,
Article 9) by Team A at the end of a play from scrimmage when there has not been a change of
possession.
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Exception: A foul against an official, regardless of when it occurs, is always treated as a
Foul Between Downs.
Item 5. Foul by Team B. After a penalty for a foul by Team B prior to (between downs) or
during a play from scrimmage, the ensuing down is first-and-10 for Team A.
Exceptions:
(1) Offside
(2) Encroachment
(3) Neutral zone infraction
(4) Delay of game
(5) Illegal substitution
(6) Excess time out
(7) Running into the kicker
(8) More than 11 players on the field at the snap
(9) More than 11 players in the formation prior to the snap
(10) Illegal formation by the defense during a scrimmage kick play
For the above exceptions, the number of the down and the line to gain remain the same unless
a distance penalty places the ball on or in advance of the line to gain, in which case it is firstand-10 for Team A.
Item 6. Foul After Change of Possession. If there is a foul, including a dead-ball foul, after
team possession has changed during a down, following enforcement of a distance penalty, it is
first-and-10 for the team that was in possession at the time of the foul.
Item 7. Foul Between Downs. If there is a Foul Between Downs, the down remains the same,
unless enforcement of the foul results in a first down.
Item 8. Double Fouls. If there is a Double Foul during the down, and the fouls offset, the down
is replayed, and the number of the down remains the same.
ARTICLE 3. CHOICE OF PENALTIES (MULTIPLE FOULS). (14-1-3)
If there is a Multiple Foul during the down, only one penalty may be enforced after the Referee
has explained the alternatives to the offended team.
Exceptions:
(1) A foul against an official is not part of a Multiple Foul and will be enforced in addition to
any other foul.
(2) If there is a personal foul that is also defensive pass interference, both fouls may be
enforced.
SECTION 2 SPECIAL ENFORCEMENT FOR PENALTIES (14-2)
ARTICLE 1. HALF-DISTANCE PENALTY. (14-2-1)
If the enforcement of a distance penalty would move the ball more than half the distance from
the spot of enforcement to the offender’s goal line, the entire distance penalty shall be enforced
up until the offender’s two-yard line. If the spot of enforcement is at or inside the offender’s twoyard line, the penalty shall be half the distance to the goal line. This general rule supersedes
any other general or specific enforcement of a distance penalty.
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Exceptions:
(1) See Rule 8-2-1 for enforcement for intentional grounding.
(2) See 8-5-4 for enforcement for defensive pass interference.
(3) See Rule 12-3-4 for enforcement for a palpably unfair act.
(4) This will not apply to penalties that carry over to a kickoff.
ARTICLE 2. FOUL BEHIND A GOAL LINE. (14-2-2)
(a) When the spot of enforcement for a foul by the defense is behind the offensive goal line, a
distance penalty is enforced from the goal line. However, if the play results in a touchback,
the penalty is enforced from the 25-yard line. See Section 4, Article 6 for fouls during a
backward pass or fumble and Section 4, Article 4 (b), Note, for exception when a player’s
momentum carries him into the end zone.
(b) When the spot of enforcement for a foul by the offense is behind the offensive goal line, it is
a safety.
(c) When the spot of enforcement for a foul by the offense is behind the defensive goal line, a
distance penalty is enforced from the goal line.
ARTICLE 3. FOUL DURING A SCORE. (14-2-3)
If a team commits a personal or unsportsmanlike conduct foul, or a palpably unfair act, during a
down in which the opponent scores, the penalty is enforced on the succeeding free kick (unless
the score resulted from the enforcement). On a touchdown, the penalty, whether a live ball or
dead ball foul or a foul between downs, may be enforced on the succeeding kickoff or Try. On a
successful Try, any foul by Team B that does not result in a re-try or negate a score may be
enforced on the succeeding free kick. In all scoring situations, the offended team has the option
of accepting the penalty with customary enforcement and beginning a new series, or replaying
the down, instead of counting the points.
ARTICLE 4. PERSONAL FOULS AND UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT FOULS. (14-2-4)
If any team commits a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct foul that is not part of a double
foul, and the opponent has possession at the end of the down, enforcement may be from the
dead-ball spot in addition to any other enforcement options provided by rule.
SECTION 3 SPOT FROM WHICH PENALTY IS ENFORCED (14-3)
ARTICLE 1. GOVERNING PROVISIONS. (14-3-1)
The general provisions of Rule 11 govern all spots of enforcement, except for specific
enforcements designated elsewhere in these rules.
ARTICLE 2. ENFORCEMENT SPOT NOT GOVERNED. (14-3-2)
When the spot of enforcement is not governed by a general or specific rule, it is the spot of the
foul.
ARTICLE 3. SPOTS OF ENFORCEMENT. (14-3-3)
The Spot of Enforcement is the spot at which a penalty is enforced. There are six spots that are
commonly used:
(a) The Previous Spot: The spot at which the ball was last put in play.
(b) The Spot of the Foul: The spot at which a foul was committed or, by rule, is considered to
have been committed.
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(c) The Spot of a Backward Pass or a Fumble: The spot at which the backward pass or fumble
occurred during the down in which there was a foul.
(d) The Dead Ball Spot: The spot at which the ball became dead.
(e) The Succeeding Spot: The spot at which the ball will next be put in play (i.e., the spot of the
ball after enforcement for a foul, or, if there has been no foul, the spot at which the ball
became dead).
(f) The Spot of a Change of Possession: The spot at which possession is gained by or awarded
to the opponent.
ARTICLE 4. BASIC SPOT. (14-3-4)
The Basic Spot is a reference point that is used to determine the Spot of Enforcement for fouls
committed pursuant to the Three-and-One Method of Enforcement. It is applicable for fouls
committed during (i) a running play or (ii) a backward pass or fumble.
(a) For fouls committed during a running play which is not followed by a change of possession,
the Basic Spot is the dead-ball spot.
(b) For fouls committed during a running play which is followed by a change of possession, the
Basic Spot is the spot where possession is lost.
(c) For fouls committed during a backward pass or fumble, the Basic Spot is the spot of the
backward pass or the spot of the fumble.
ARTICLE 5. THREE-AND-ONE METHOD OF ENFORCEMENT. (14-3-5)
For fouls committed during a run, a fumble or a backward pass, the penalty is enforced from the
Basic Spot if:
(a) the defense fouls in advance of the Basic Spot;
(b) the defense fouls behind the Basic Spot; or
(c) the offense fouls in advance of the Basic Spot.
If the offense fouls behind the Basic Spot, enforcement is from the spot of the foul (three-andone method of enforcement).
Exceptions for fouls committed by the offense:
(1) Fouls committed by the offense behind the line of scrimmage, except for fouls committed
in the end zone, are enforced from the previous spot. See Rule 8-2-1 for enforcement for
intentional grounding.
(2) If the offense commits a foul behind its own goal line, it is a safety if the defense elects to
enforce the penalty at that spot.
(3) If the offense commits a foul beyond the line of scrimmage and the Basic Spot is behind
the line of scrimmage, enforcement is from the previous spot. If the dead-ball spot is in
the offensive end zone, it is a safety, regardless of where the foul occurs.
(4) If the offense commits a foul in the defense’s end zone prior to scoring a touchdown,
enforcement is from the goal line.
Exception for fouls committed by the defense:
(1) When the Basic Spot is behind the line of scrimmage, and the defense has committed a
foul either behind or beyond the line of scrimmage, the penalty is enforced from the
previous spot.
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SECTION 4 SPOTS OF ENFORCEMENT (14-4)
ARTICLE 1. FOUL BEFORE OR AT THE SNAP. (14-4-1)
Item 1. Before the Snap. A foul that occurs prior to the snap is enforced from the succeeding
spot, and the down remains the same, unless enforcement of the foul results in a first down.
Item 2. At the Snap. A foul that occurs at the snap is enforced from the previous spot, and the
down is repeated, unless enforcement of the foul results in a first down.
ARTICLE 2. FOUL COMMITTED DURING RUNNING PLAY. (14-4-2)
For a foul committed during a running play when there is not a subsequent change of
possession during the down, the Basic Spot is the dead-ball spot. The three-and-one method of
enforcement is used (see Section 3, Article 6).
Note: A foul during a run prior to a forward pass or kick from behind the line is enforced as a
foul during a passing play or during a scrimmage kick.
ARTICLE 3. FOUL DURING RUNNING PLAY BEFORE CHANGE OF POSSESSION. (14-4-3)
When a foul occurs during a running play, and the run in which the foul occurs is followed by a
change of possession, the Basic Spot is the spot where possession is lost. The three-and-one
method of enforcement is used (see Section 3, Article 6).
Notes:
(1) If the foul is by the defensive team, the ball reverts to the offensive team prior to
enforcement of the foul.
(2) If the foul is by the offensive team, the defense must decline the penalty to retain
possession. However, if the foul by the offense was a Personal Foul or Unsportsmanlike
Conduct Foul, the defense retains possession, and enforcement is from the dead-ball
spot. If the defense subsequently loses possession, the penalty is enforced from the spot
where possession changed, and the defense retains possession.
(3) If there are Multiple Fouls by the defense, the enforcement shall be that which is most
beneficial to the offense.
ARTICLE 4. FOUL AFTER CHANGE OF POSSESSION (END ZONE). (14-4-4)
If there is a foul by either team after a change of possession, and the dead-ball spot is in Team
B’s end zone, enforcement shall be as follows:
(a) Fouls by Team A:
(1) If the impetus that sent the ball in touch was provided by Team B, enforcement is from
the goal line. See Note below for exception when a player’s momentum carries him into
the end zone.
(2) If the impetus that sent the ball in touch was provided by Team A, enforcement is from
the 25-yard line.
(b) Fouls by Team B (Team A impetus):
(1) If Team B attempts to advance the ball, and the spot of its foul is in the end zone, the
result is a safety.
(2) If Team B does not attempt to advance the ball, and its foul occurs in the end zone,
enforcement is from the 25-yard line.
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(3) If the spot of its foul is in the field of play, the penalty is enforced from either the spot of
the foul or the touchback spot, whichever is least beneficial to Team B, regardless of
whether Team B attempts to advance the ball.
Note: If a Team B player’s original momentum carries him into his end zone, where the ball
is declared dead in his team’s possession, the dead-ball spot is considered to be the spot at
which the player established possession.
(c) Fouls by Team B (Team B impetus):
(1) Regardless of whether the foul is in the field of play or in the end zone, the result is a
safety.
Note: Dead-ball fouls by either team are enforced from the succeeding spot.
ARTICLE 5. FOUL COMMITTED DURING PASSING PLAY. (14-4-5)
If there is a foul by either team from the time of the snap until a forward pass thrown from behind
the line ends, the penalty is enforced from the previous spot. A pass play ends, and a running
play begins the instant that a pass is caught.
Exceptions:
(1) Intentional grounding is a loss of down at the spot of the foul, or a loss of down and a 10-
yard penalty from the previous spot, whichever is less beneficial for the offense. If the foul
occurs less than 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, but more than half the distance
to the goal line, the ball shall be placed at the spot of the pass. (If the pass is thrown from
the end zone, it is a safety).
(2) Pass interference by the defense is enforced at the spot of the foul. If it occurs in the
fouling team’s end zone, the ball will be placed at the one-yard line, or half the distance to
the goal line from the previous spot, whichever is more beneficial to the offense.
(3) It is a safety when the offensive team commits a foul behind its own goal line if the
defense elects to enforce the penalty at that spot.
(4) If there is a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct foul by the defense prior to the
completion of a forward pass thrown from behind the line, enforcement is from the
previous spot or the dead-ball spot, whichever is more beneficial to the offense. If the
passing team is fouled and subsequently loses possession after a completion, the
passing team retains possession of the ball, and enforcement is from the previous spot.
(5) If there is a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct foul by the offense prior to the
offense losing possession during a pass play or subsequent running play, enforcement is
from the dead-ball spot. However, If the defense subsequently loses possession, the
penalty is enforced from the spot of the defense’s catch or recovery, and the defense
retains possession. This also applies to a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct foul
by the offense prior to a forward pass thrown from behind the line, and the
offense fails to make the line to gain.
Notes:
(1) The penalty for a forward pass from behind the line after the ball has been beyond the
line, or for a third forward pass from behind the line, is enforced from the previous spot,
unless the spot of the pass is behind the passer’s goal line, in which case it is a safety.
(2) If a forward pass is thrown from beyond the line of scrimmage, or when there is no line of
scrimmage, it is a foul during a running play.
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ARTICLE 6. FOUL DURING A BACKWARD PASS OR FUMBLE. (14-4-6)
If there is a foul by either team during a backward pass or fumble, the Basic Spot is the spot of
the backward pass or fumble. The three-and-one method of enforcement is used (see Section 3,
Article 6).
Notes:
(1) If Team B gains possession in its end zone, and the impetus was provided by Team A, if
Team B fumbles or throws a backward pass in the end zone and fouls while the ball is
loose, the spot of the fumble or the backward pass is considered to be the B25-yard line.
(2) If a Team B player’s original momentum carries him into his end zone, where he fumbles
the ball, the spot of the fumble is considered to be the spot at which the player
established possession. See 11-5-1-Exc. 2.
(3) If there is a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct foul by the offense during a fumble
or backward pass that is recovered by the defense, enforcement is from the dead-ball
spot. If the recovering team subsequently loses possession, the penalty is enforced from
the spot of its recovery, and it retains possession. This also applies to a personal foul or
unsportsmanlike conduct foul by the offense during a fumble or backward pass that is
recovered by the offense, and the offense fails to make the line to gain.
ARTICLE 7. FOUL DURING FREE KICK PLAY. (14-4-7)
If there is a foul during a free kick, enforcement is from the previous spot, and the free kick is
made again. However, if the kicking team commits a foul prior to the end of the kick, and the
receiving team retains possession throughout the down, it will have the option of enforcing the
penalty at the previous spot and replaying the down or adding the penalty yardage to the deadball spot. The dead ball spot for free kicks that result in a touchback is the 25-yard line.
Exceptions:
(1) A personal foul (blocking) after a fair-catch signal is enforced from the spot of the foul.
(2) A foul for fair-catch interference is enforced from the spot of the foul.
(3) A foul for interference with the opportunity to make a catch is enforced from the spot of
the foul.
(4) A foul for an invalid fair catch signal is enforced from the spot of the foul.
(5) For a free kick out of bounds, see 6-2-3.
(6) For a free kick illegally touched, see 6-2-4.
(7) Double fouls are enforced according to customary rules.
Notes: In (1), (2), (3), and (5) above, if the foul is not part of a double foul and the opponent
has possession at the end of the down, the foul may be enforced from the dead-ball spot.
A free kick ends when Team B establishes possession. Fouls by Team A prior to the time that
Team B establishes possession are offensive fouls. If Team A legally recovers a free kick, there
is no change of possession. After Team B establishes possession, a running play begins, and
fouls that occur thereafter are enforced from the dead-ball spot or the spot of the foul (threeand-one method).
ARTICLE 8. FOUL DURING SCRIMMAGE KICK PLAY. (14-4-8)
If there is a foul from the time of the snap until a legal scrimmage kick ends, enforcement is from
the previous spot. This includes a foul during a run prior to a legal kick, and a foul by the kicking
team during a missed field-goal attempt.
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Exceptions:
(1) If the offensive team commits a foul in its own end zone, it is a safety if the defense elects
to enforce the penalty at that spot.
(2) Unless the kick is a missed field-goal attempt, if there is a foul by the kicking team, the
receiving team will have the option of taking the penalty at the previous spot and
replaying the down or adding the penalty yardage on to the dead-ball spot.
Notes:
(a) The dead-ball spot for scrimmage kicks that result in a touchback is the 25-yard line.
(b) If there is a foul for an illegal touch inside the five-yard line, the receiving team also
has the option of accepting a touchback.
(c) If there is a personal or unsportsmanlike conduct foul by the kicking team during a
missed field-goal attempt where the receiving team is awarded the ball (see 11-4-2),
enforcement is from the succeeding spot.
(3) Fair-catch interference, interference with the opportunity to make a catch, an invalid faircatch signal, or a personal foul (blocking) after a fair-catch signal are enforced from the
spot of the foul.
Note: If the foul is not part of a double foul and the opponent has possession at the end
of the down, the foul may be enforced from the dead-ball spot. See 14-2-4.
(4) Except for fouls that are committed in an attempt to block the kick (such as running into
or roughing the kicker, defensive holding (pull-and-shoot), leverage, leaping, and pushing
teammate(s) into the offensive formation), if the receiving team commits a foul during a
kick that crosses the line of scrimmage, the penalty for its infraction will be enforced as if
it had been in possession of the ball at the time the foul occurred (a post-possession
foul), provided that the receiving team does not lose possession of the ball at any time
during the down. The penalty shall be enforced from whichever of the following spots is
least beneficial to the receiving team:
(a) the end of the kick; or
(b) the spot of the foul.
If the foul occurs in the end zone, it is deemed to have occurred at the 25-yard line,
unless enforcement results in a safety (11-4-4).
(5) For enforcement of a personal or unsportsmanlike conduct foul on a play that results in a
score, see 14-2-3; for illegally kicking a loose ball, see 12-5-2; and for an illegal bat, see
12-5-1.
When Team B establishes possession of the ball, a scrimmage kick ends, and a running play
begins, and fouls that occur thereafter are enforced from the dead-ball spot or the spot of the
foul (three-and-one method, 14-3-6).
ARTICLE 9. DEAD BALL FOUL AND FOUL BETWEEN DOWNS. (14-4-9)
A Dead Ball Foul is a foul that occurs in the continuing action after a down ends, or a taunting
foul that occurs at any time. The penalty for a Dead Ball Foul is enforced from the succeeding
spot, and the down counts.
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A Foul Between Downs is a foul that occurs after the end of the down and after any continuing
action resulting from the down, but prior to the next snap or free kick. The penalty for a Foul
Between Downs is enforced from the succeeding spot, and the down counts, but it cannot be
combined with a Live Ball Foul or a Dead Ball Foul to create a Multiple or Double Foul. A Foul
Between Downs is always enforced separately from any other foul. A foul against an official,
regardless of when it occurs, is always treated as a Foul Between Downs.
Exception: If there is a personal, unsportsmanlike conduct, or taunting foul by either team
following the end of the second period, the penalty yardage will be enforced on the secondhalf kickoff, unless it is part of a Double Foul (See Section 5). At the end of the fourth period
if the score is tied no penalty will carry over to the overtime period, but the player committing
the foul will be suspended for the next Try attempt series.
Item 1. Dead Ball Foul by Team A. If there is a Dead Ball Foul by Team A after a down in
which Team A has made a first down, after enforcement of the penalty it will be first-and-10 for
Team A. If there is a Foul Between Downs after a down in which Team A has made a first down,
after enforcement of the penalty it will be first-and-25 for Team A.
Item 2. Dead Ball Fouls by Both Teams. Dead Ball Fouls by both teams are offset at the
succeeding spot, and the down counts, but any disqualified player or players must be removed
pursuant to Rule 3, Section 2, Article 7.
Item 3. Live Ball and Dead Ball Fouls. Live Ball Fouls and Dead Ball Fouls combine to create
Double Fouls or Multiple Fouls, and all customary rules for enforcement apply.
Exceptions:
(1) If there is a 5-yard vs. 15-yard Double Foul on the last play of a half, and the 15-yard
penalty is for a Dead Ball, personal, unsportsmanlike conduct, or taunting foul by either
team, there will be no extension of the period. When this occurs at the end of the first half
the penalty yardage will be enforced on the second half kickoff. When this occurs at the
end of the second half and the score is tied no penalty yardage carries over to overtime,
but the player committing the foul is suspended for the next Try attempt series.
(2) If the scoring team commits a Dead Ball Foul after a score, and its opponent’s Live Ball
Foul is not for unsportsmanlike conduct or unnecessary roughness, the opponent’s foul is
disregarded, the score counts, and the offensive team’s Dead Ball Foul is enforced on
the succeeding kickoff or Try. If the opponent’s foul is for unsportsmanlike conduct or
unnecessary roughness, the score counts, and the fouls offset on the kickoff.
(3) If the only foul by the defense is a dead ball foul on the last play of the half (“clean hands
end of half”). If the foul by the offense is not unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike
conduct, it is disregarded, and the dead ball foul for unnecessary roughness or
unsportsmanlike conduct by the defense will be enforced on the second half kickoff or to
start overtime. If both teams’ fouls are for unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike
conduct, those fouls offset at the end of the down.
SECTION 5 FOULS BY BOTH TEAMS (DOUBLE FOULS) (14-5)
ARTICLE 1. DOUBLE FOUL WITHOUT CHANGE OF POSSESSION. (14-5-1)
If there is a Double Foul during a down in which there is not a change of possession, the
penalties are offset, and the down is replayed at the previous spot. If it is a scrimmage down,
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the number of the next down and the line to gain is the same as for the down in which the fouls
occurred. Penalties for double fouls cannot be declined by either team.
Exceptions:
(1) If one or more fouls by one team includes a 15-yard penalty, and the penalty for the foul
or fouls committed by the other team is for a five-yard penalty without an automatic First
Down, a loss of down, or a 10-second runoff (15 yards versus five yards), or that is not a
spot foul, the 15-yard penalty is enforced from the previous spot, and the five-yard
penalty is disregarded. Five vs. 15 enforcements cannot be declined by the team that
committed the minor foul, except as described in (2) below. See 4-8-2-h and 14-4-9-Item
3-Exc. 1 for dead ball fouls at the end of a half.
(2) If one of the fouls is a Dead Ball Foul for delay of game for spiking the ball and the
opponent’s foul is a Live Ball Foul, the team that committed the delay of game foul, in
addition to Article 1 above, will have the option to decline the foul committed by its
opponent and be assessed the penalty for delay from the dead-ball spot.
(3) If both fouls are Dead Ball Fouls or are treated as such (14-4-9), the penalties are offset,
and the ball is next put in play at the succeeding spot, unless the Dead Ball fouls occur
after the ball has been made ready for play, in which case 5 vs. 15 enforcement applies.
(4) 14-4-9-Item 3 exceptions for dead ball fouls at the end of a half or after a score.
ARTICLE 2. DOUBLE FOUL WITH A CHANGE OF POSSESSION. (14-5-2)
If there is a Double Foul during a down in which there is a change or changes of possession,
including if one of the fouls is a post-possession foul by Team B during a scrimmage kick, the
team last gaining possession will keep the ball after enforcement for its foul, provided it did not
foul prior to last gaining possession (“clean hands”).
If the team last in possession does not have “clean hands” when it establishes possession, the
penalties offset, and the down is replayed at the previous spot.
Exceptions:
(1) If Team A fouls during a kickoff, punt, safety kick, fair-catch kick, or field-goal attempt
prior to the change of possession, Team B may elect to replay the down at the previous
spot.
(2) If a safety results from the enforcement of a foul by Team B, the down is replayed at the
previous spot.
(4) If both teams foul after the last change of possession (Double Foul After Change of
Possession), the team last in possession shall retain the ball at the spot where its foul
would be enforced if it was the only foul. If the spot is normally a touchback, the ball is
placed on the 25-yard line. If it is normally a safety, the ball is placed on the one-yard line.
On kicking plays, if Team A fouls prior to the change of possession, Team B shall also
have the option in (1) above.
If the team last in possession does not have “clean hands” when it establishes possession, the
penalties offset, and the down is replayed at the previous spot.
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RULE 15 INSTANT REPLAY
SECTION 1 INITIATING A REPLAY REVIEW (15-1)
ARTICLE 1. REPLAY REVIEW. (15-1-1)
Designated members of the Officiating Department may stop a game at any time before the ball
is next legally put in play when:
(a) the play is reviewable; and
(b) there is reasonable evidence to believe an error was made in the initial on-field ruling; and
(c) the outcome of the review would have a direct, competitive impact on the game.
Exception: The number of the down may be corrected at any time during that
series of downs before the ball is legally put in play for the next series.
ARTICLE 2. COACH CHALLENGES. (15-1-2)
Each team is permitted one challenge that will initiate Instant Replay reviews:
(a) The Head Coach can initiate a challenge by notifying a game official before the next legal
snap or kick.
(b) A team that commits a foul that prevents the next snap can no longer challenge the
previous play. The non-fouling team can still challenge the previous play, and both teams
can benefit from the review.
(c) The Head Coach may challenge any on-field ruling including those involving a foul or
potential foul.
(d) Each challenge requires an available team timeout. A team that is out of timeouts, or has
used its challenge, may not attempt to initiate a challenge.
Penalty: For initiating a challenge when a team has exhausted its timeouts: Loss of 15
yards enforced as a foul between downs.
(e) If a challenge is unsuccessful, the team will be charged a timeout.
SECTION 2 REPLAY REVIEWS (15-2)
All Replay Reviews will be conducted by designated members of the Officiating Department in a
secure location separate from the stadium where the game is being played.
ARTICLE 1. CHANGING A RULING. (15-2-1)
An on-field ruling will be changed only when clear and obvious video evidence warrants a
change.
ARTICLE 2. LENGTH OF REVIEW. (15-2-2)
A decision must be made within 60 seconds from when the Referee announces the play is
under review.
ARTICLE 3. SCOPE OF REVIEW. (15-2-3)
Once a review is initiated, all reviewable aspects of a play (Section 3) may be examined and are
subject to change.
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ARTICLE 4. AWARDING POSSESSION. (15-2-4)
When the on-field ruling results in a dead ball (e.g., score, down by contact, incomplete pass,
etc.), and following replay review, it is determined that possession was lost before the ball
should have been ruled dead, possession can be awarded to a player who recovers a loose ball
in the immediate continuing action. A loose ball that touches out of bounds is deemed a clear
recovery by the player who last possessed the ball.
An advance will be allowed by the recovering player if he crosses the opponent’s goal line in the
immediate continuing action and it is clear the dead ball ruling did not impact the action.
Note: If on-field officials make a preliminary ruling of which team recovered the ball, that
preliminary ruling may constitute a clear recovery.
SECTION 3 REVIEWABLE RULINGS (15-3)
ARTICLE 1. PLAY SITUATIONS. (15-3-1)
The Replay System will cover the following play situations:
(a) Plays involving possession (see Section 3, Article 2).
(b) Plays involving touching either the ball or the ground (see Section 3, Article 3).
(c) Plays governed by the goal line (see Section 3, Article 4).
(d) Plays governed by the boundary lines (see Section 3, Article 5).
(e) Plays governed by the line of scrimmage (see Section 3, Article 6).
(f) Plays governed by the line to gain (see Section 3, Article 7).
(g) Number of players on the field at the snap (see Section 3, Article 8).
(h) Game administration (see Section 3, Article 9).
(1) Penalty enforcement.
(2) Proper down.
(3) Spot of a foul.
(4) Status of the game and play clock.
(i) Other reviewable plays (see Section 3, Article 10).
ARTICLE 2. PLAYS INVOLVING POSSESSION. (15-3-2)
Item 1. Completion of a Pass. Whether a pass was complete or incomplete.
Notes:
(1) Incomplete Changed to Catch. If a ruling of incomplete is changed to a catch,
the ball will be placed at the spot where it was when the receiver’s second foot
or a body part touched the ground with control. No advance is awarded.
(2) Incomplete Changed to Catch and Fumble. When a ruling of incomplete is
changed to a catch and fumble, the ball will be awarded at the spot of recovery
to the team that recovers the ball in the immediate continuing action. If there is
no clear recovery, the ball will be awarded to the team last in possession at the
spot where possession was lost.
Item 2. Recovery of a Loose Ball. Whether a player legally recovered a loose ball in the field
of play, at the sideline, goal line, or in the end zone.
Item 3. Forward Pass or Fumble. Whether a passer’s hand started forward with control of the
ball, or whether the ball was fumbled.
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Notes:
(1) When an on-field ruling is incomplete, and the passer clearly fumbled the ball,
the ball will be awarded at the spot of recovery to the team that recovers the ball in
the immediate continuing action. If there is no clear recovery, the ball will be
awarded to the team last in possession at the spot where possession was lost,
except that if possession was lost in the team’s own end zone, and the ball was
not clearly recovered in the end zone, the ball will be placed at the one-yard line.
(2) When a ruling of fumble is changed to an incomplete forward pass, a foul for
intentional grounding can be created in replay only if a pre-review announcement
was made that a changed ruling would create the foul.
(3) This item applies to a ruling that a passer muffed a snap or spiked the ball to stop
a running clock.
Item 4. Fumble. Whether a runner lost possession before he was down by contact or had given
himself up.
Notes:
(1) When an on-field ruling is down by contact, and the runner clearly fumbled the ball, the
ball will be awarded at the spot of recovery to the team that recovers the ball in the
immediate continuing action. If there is no clear recovery, the ruling on the field stands.
(2) The spot of a forward fumble out of bounds, or a fumble that occurs on fourth down, or
after the two-minute warning, or during a Try, is reviewable regardless of whether on-field
officials return the ball to the spot of the fumble, and regardless of whether it involves a
score, potential score, a change of possession, or the line to gain.
ARTICLE 3. PLAYS INVOLVING TOUCHING OF THE BALL OR THE GROUND. (15-3-3)
Item 1. Down by Contact. Whether a player was down by contact while in possession of the
ball.
Item 2. Touching of a Forward Pass. Whether a player touched a forward pass.
Notes:
(1) Only the fact of touching, and not intent, is reviewable.
(2) A player touching a pass will remove a foul for offensive or defensive pass interference if
the touching occurs away from and clearly before the interference.
Item 3. Touching of a Kick. Whether a player touched a kick and the spot of touching.
Note: A foul for running into or roughing the kicker or holder can be removed if the kicked
ball was touched before the contact. If a pre-review announcement was made that there was
no foul because the ball was ruled to be touched, a foul for running into or roughing the
kicker or holder can be created in replay if the ball was not touched before the contact.
Item 4. Touching of a Loose Ball. Whether a player touched a loose ball.
Item 5. Ball Touching the Ground on a Free Kick. Whether a ball hit the ground after being
kicked.
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Item 6. Ball Touching the Ground on a Scrimmage Kick. Whether a ball touched the ground
before being caught or recovered by a punter or holder.
ARTICLE 4. PLAYS GOVERNED BY THE GOAL LINE. (15-3-4)
Item 1. Ball breaking the plane of the goal line. Whether any part of the ball broke the plane
of the goal line while in player possession and before the ball should have been declared dead.
Notes:
(1) A ruling of a touchdown can be reviewed to determine if the runner fumbled before the
ball broke the plane of the goal line. If there is no clear recovery in the immediate
continuing action, the team that fumbled is awarded the ball at the spot of the fumble.
(2) The dead-ball spot is not reviewable to determine solely whether it should be closer to or
further from the goal line.
Item 2. Momentum. Whether a player’s momentum spot was in the field of play or in the end
zone. A ruling of whether a player’s momentum caused him to enter his end zone is not
reviewable.
Note: For purposes of a replay review, the momentum spot is the spot where the second
foot (or other body part other than the hands) touched the ground. If that spot is on the goal
line or in the end zone, it is a touchback.
ARTICLE 5. PLAYS GOVERNED BY THE BOUNDARY LINES. (15-3-5)
Item 1. Runner Inbounds. A ruling that a runner was out of bounds is reviewable only to
determine: (a) the spot of the ball in relation to the line to gain or the goal line at the spot where
the runner was ruled to have touched out of bounds; (b) if the runner fumbled the ball in the
immediate continuing action after he was ruled out of bounds; or (c) if the ball broke the plane of
the goal line in the runner’s possession in the immediate continuing action after he was ruled out
of bounds.
Item 2. Receiver Out of Bounds. Whether a receiver touched out of bounds is reviewable to
determine whether he was eligible to touch the ball and whether a defender could legally contact
him.
Item 3. Passer Out of Bounds Before Throwing Pass. A ruling that a player stepped out of
bounds before throwing a pass is not reviewable to determine if he was inbounds when he threw
the pass.
Item 4. Player Out of Bounds on Scrimmage Kick. Whether a player was out of bounds
during a scrimmage kick is reviewable to determine the spot of the ball and whether the ball was
illegally touched.
Item 5. Loose ball. Whether a loose ball touched a boundary line, anything on the boundary
line, a pylon, or an object.
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ARTICLE 6. PLAYS GOVERNED BY THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE. (15-3-6)
Item 1. Illegal Passes. Whether a forward pass was thrown when the passer was beyond the
line of scrimmage, or after the ball had crossed the line of scrimmage and returned behind it.
Item 2. Illegal Kick. Whether a scrimmage kick was from beyond the line of scrimmage, or a
second kick was made after the ball had crossed the line of scrimmage.
Item 3. Ball Crosses Line. Whether a forward pass crosses the line of scrimmage.
ARTICLE 7. PLAYS GOVERNED BY THE LINE TO GAIN. (15-3-7)
The dead-ball spot is reviewable to determine whether it was short of, at, or beyond the line to
gain.
Notes:
(1) For purposes of a replay review, forward progress is determined when a player with
control of the ball is contacted by an opponent and driven backwards.
(2) Following review, the ball will be placed at the correct dead-ball spot, but a challenge
will be successful only if the line to gain ruling is changed.
ARTICLE 8. NUMBER OF PLAYERS ON THE FIELD AT THE SNAP. (15-3-8)
Whether a player is on the field at the snap or when officials rule a dead-ball foul for too many
players in the formation. For a player to be off the field, he must touch the ground out of bounds.
For a player to be on the field, any body part must touch the ground in the field of play or end
zone.
ARTICLE 9. GAME ADMINISTRATION AND CONSULTATION. (15-3-9)
The designated members of the Officiating department may consult with on-field officials, or
conduct a replay review, or advise the game officials on specific, objective aspects of a play
when clear and obvious video evidence is present, and/or to address game administration
issues, including, but not limited to:
(a) penalty enforcement;
(b) the proper down;
(c) spot of a foul;
(d) the game clock;
(e) possession;
(f) completed or intercepted pass;
(g) touching of a loose ball, boundary line, goal line, or end line;
(h) location of the football or a player in relation to a boundary line, the line of scrimmage, the
line to gain, or the goal line; or
(i) down by contact (when a player is not ruled down by contact on the field).
Item 1. Game Clock. The game clock is reviewable for purposes of restoring time to the clock
but not for purposes of taking time off the clock.
Notes:
(1) Time can be restored to the game clock if the clock operator incorrectly starts the game
clock when it should remain stopped, provided that the correction occurs before the next
legal snap or kick.
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(2) Whether time should have expired during or after the last play of any half is reviewable by
the Video Official only when the visual evidence demonstrates that the clock should have
stopped with time remaining. In the first half, time shall be restored only if the additional
play will be a snap from scrimmage. In the second half, time shall be restored only if the
ball will be put in play for the next down by a team that is trailing by nine points or less, or
by either team if the score is tied. This would include any potential result of a Try after a
touchdown.
(5) The game clock is reviewable to determine if it properly expired when on-field officials
restore time after the last play of any half. Visual evidence that a clock should have
stopped includes any situation when the clock stops by rule after the ball becomes dead.
Visual evidence that the clock should have stopped for a team timeout occurs when an
official starts to raise his or her arm to signal a stopped clock.
ARTICLE 10. DISQUALIFICATION OF A PLAYER. (15-3-10)
The designated members of the Officiating Department may review a decision by on-field
officials to disqualify a player. All reviewable aspects of the play will be considered.
ARTICLE 11. OTHER REVIEWABLE PLAYS. (15-3-11)
Item 1. Direction of a Pass. Whether a pass was forward or backward.
Note: When an on-field ruling is incomplete, and the pass was clearly backward, the ball will
be awarded at the spot of recovery to the team that recovers the ball in the immediate
continuing action. If there is no clear recovery, the ball will be awarded to the team last
in possession at the spot where possession was lost.
Item 2. Illegal Forward Pass. Whether a pass was illegally thrown.
Item 3. Field Goal or Try Attempt. Whether a field goal or try attempt crossed above the
crossbar and inside the uprights is reviewable, but only if the ball crosses the plane of the goal
post below the top of the uprights or if the ball touches anything.
Item 4. Illegal Forward Handoff. Whether a player received a handoff clearly in advance of a
player making the handoff.
Item 5. Ball Touching a Foreign Object. Whether a loose ball touched a scoreboard, guide
wire, or any other object.
Note: If it is determined that the ball hit an object, the down will be replayed from the
previous spot, and the game clock will be reset to the time when the ball was snapped and
will start on the snap.
SECTION 4 GAME CLOCK ADMINISTRATION (15-4)
ARTICLE 1. RESETTING GAME CLOCK. (15-4-1)
After the two-minute warning, when a ruling is changed in replay and it changes the status of the
clock to stopped, the game clock will be reset to the time when the ball should have been
declared dead. The game clock is not reset if the on-field ruling is not changed in replay.
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ARTICLE 2. 10-SECOND RUNOFF. (15-4-2)
When a changed ruling results in a running clock for plays that begin after the two-minute
warning, the clock is reset to the time when the play should have ended, and the clock will run
for 10 seconds from the reset time. If less than 10 seconds remain in the half or the game, the
half or the game is over.
Note: Neither team may decline a 10-second runoff under this Article, but either team can
avoid the 10-second runoff by taking a charged team timeout. If the 10-second runoff
is avoided, the game clock will be reset to the time when the play should have ended
and will start on the snap.
SECTION 5 FOULS (15-5)
ARTICLE 1. PENALTY ADMINISTRATION. (15-5-1)
Penalty administration, including the number of the down, yardage, the number of the fouling
player, and the spot of a foul, is reviewable.
ARTICLE 2. ENFORCEMENT OF FOULS FOLLOWING A CHANGED RULING. (15-5-2)
Item 1. Major Fouls. When a ruling is changed in replay, any foul that occurred after the ball
should have been declared dead is disregarded except for personal fouls and unsportsmanlike
conduct fouls. Live ball fouls that occurred on the challenged play may be enforced if they
occurred before the ball should have been declared dead.
Item 2. Pre-Snap Fouls Before Challenge. Pre-snap fouls, other than personal fouls and
unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, that occur before a replay review will be ignored if the ruling on
the previous play is changed.
Item 3. Head Coach’s Ability to Change Penalty or Timeout Decision. If a ruling is changed
in replay, a Head Coach can change a decision whether to accept or decline a penalty or
whether to take a timeout that was made before the review.
SECTION 6 NON-REVIEWABLE PLAYS (15-7)
The following aspects of plays are not reviewable:
(a) Whether an erroneous whistle sounded;
(b) Whether a ball was illegally batted or kicked;
(c) Whether a passer intentionally grounded a pass;
(d) Whether an ineligible receiver was downfield before a pass;
(e) Whether a receiver was illegally contacted;
(f) The spot of a loose ball crossing the sideline;
(g) Whether a block was illegal;
(h) Any aspect of a play not listed as reviewable in Section 3 of this Rule.
Exceptions:
(1) The designated members of the Officiating Department may correct obvious errors
involving player safety at any point throughout the game, or any obvious error that may
have a significant impact on the outcome of the game in the last five minutes of the 4th
quarter or during overtime.
(2) The Head Coach may challenge any on-field ruling once per game.
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RULE 16 OVERTIME
SECTION 1 OVERTIME PROCEDURES (16-1)
ARTICLE 1. SCORE TIED. (16-1-1)
If the score is tied at the end of the regulation playing time of all regular season and postseason
UFL games, a system of overtime shall be in effect, pursuant to the following.
ARTICLE 2. EXTRA PERIOD. (16-1-2)
Following an intermission of no more than two minutes after the end of the regular game, the
extra period shall commence. The extra period shall consist of three Try attempts for each team
at one end of the field to be determined prior to the game by a League designee. The two teams
will alternate attempts during each series. The home team has the choice to go first or second. If
after three attempts for each team the tie has not been broken, the teams will alternate attempts
until there is a winner. Each team shall be entitled to one timeout during the extra period.
Item 1. Try Attempt. The Try begins when the Referee sounds the whistle for play to start. The
offensive team shall put the ball in play:
(a) between the inbound lines; and
(b) five yards from the defensive team’s goal line.
Notes:
(1) All general rules for fumbles after the two-minute warning apply.
(2) The Game Clock will not run during the extra period.
(3) If the ball has been declared ready for play by the Referee, and the offensive team wants
to change the location of the ball, they can do so by calling a timeout.
(4) The offensive team must attempt to score a touchdown. Field goal attempts are
prohibited.
Item 2. Results of a Try. During a try the following shall apply:
(a) If a Try results in a touchdown, the try is considered successful. If a touchdown is not scored,
the Try is over at the end of the down and will be considered unsuccessful.
(b) If the defense gains possession, the ball is dead immediately. The defensive team cannot
score.
Item 3. Fouls Committed During a Try. During a Try the following shall apply:
(a) Fouls by either team committed prior to the snap will be enforced according to normal rules.
(b) If the offensive team commits a foul during the Try, any score is canceled, and the Try is
considered unsuccessful.
(c) Fouls committed by the defensive team during an unsuccessful Try will result in a second Try
from the 1-yard line. If the defense fouls during any subsequent Try, a score will be awarded.
(d) Fouls by both teams during a Try will offset and the Try is replayed at the previous spot.
(e) Dead ball personal and unsportsmanlike conduct fouls will result in the player/s committing
the foul being suspended for the next Try attempt series.
ARTICLE 3. DISQUALIFIED PLAYERS. (16-1-3)
Disqualified player(s) shall not re-enter during any extra period.
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ARTICLE 4. GENERAL AND SPECIFIC RULES APPLY. (16-1-4)
Except as provided for above, all other general and specific rules shall apply during any extra
period.
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RULE 17 EMERGENCIES AND UNFAIR ACTS
SECTION 1 EMERGENCIES (17-1)
ARTICLE 1. NON-PLAYER ON FIELD. (17-1-1)
If any non-player, including photographers, reporters, employees, police, or spectators, enters
the field of play or end zones, and in the judgment of an official said party or parties interfere
with the play, the Referee, after consulting the crew (13-1-7 and 19-1-3), shall enforce any such
penalty or score as the interference warrants.
ARTICLE 2. FIELD CONTROL. (17-1-2)
If spectators enter the field and/or interfere with the progress of the game in such a manner that
in the opinion of the Referee the game cannot continue, the Referee shall declare timeout. In
such a case, the Referee shall record the number of the down, distance to be gained, and the
position of the ball on the field. The Referee shall also secure
from the Line Judge the playing time remaining and record it. The Referee shall then order the
home club through its management to have the field cleared, and when it is cleared and order
restored and the safety of the spectators, players and officials is assured to the satisfaction of
the Referee, the game must continue even if it is necessary to use lights.
ARTICLE 3. GAME CALLED. (17-1-3)
If the game must be called due to a state or municipal law, or by darkness if no lights are
available, an immediate report shall be made to the Football Operations Department by the
home club, visiting club, and officials. On receipt of all reports, the Football Operations
Department shall make a decision which will be final.
ARTICLE 4. EMERGENCY SITUATIONS. (17-1-4)
The UFL affirms the position that in most circumstances all regular-season and postseason
games should be played to their conclusion. If, in the opinion of appropriate League authorities,
it is impossible to begin or continue a game due to an emergency, or a game is deemed to be
imminently threatened by any such emergency (e.g., severely inclement weather, lightning,
flooding, power failure), the following procedures (Articles 5 through 11) will serve as guidelines
for the Football Operations Department and/or the duly appointed representatives. The Football
Operations Department has the authority to review the circumstances of each emergency and
to adjust the following procedures in whatever manner the Football Operations Department
deems appropriate. If, in the Football Operations Department’s opinion, it is reasonable to
project that the resumption of an interrupted game would not change its ultimate result or
adversely affect any other inter-team competitive issue, the Football Operations Department is
empowered to terminate the game.
ARTICLE 5. LEAGUE AUTHORITY. (17-1-5)
The League employees vested with the authority to define emergencies under these procedures
are designated representatives from the League office staff, and the game Referee. In all cases
of significant delay, the League authorities will consult with the management of the participating
clubs and will attempt to obtain appropriate information from outside sources, if applicable (e.g.,
weather bureau, police).
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ARTICLE 6. LATER DATE. (17-1-6)
If, because of an emergency, a regular-season or postseason game is not started at its
scheduled time and cannot be played at any later time that same day, the game nevertheless
must be played on a subsequent date to be determined by the Football Operations Department .
ARTICLE 7. PRE-GAME THREAT. (17-1-7)
If there is deemed to be a threat of an emergency that may occur during the playing of a game
(e.g., an incoming tropical storm), the starting time of such game will not be moved to an earlier
time unless there is clearly sufficient time to make an orderly change.
ARTICLE 8. INTERRUPTED GAME. (17-1-8)
If, under emergency circumstances, an interrupted regular-season or post-season game cannot
be completed on the same day, such game will be rescheduled by the Football Operations
Department and resumed at that point.
ARTICLE 9. ALTERNATE DATES, SITES. (17-1-9)
In instances under these emergency procedures which require the Football Operations
Department to reschedule a regular-season game, the Football Operations Department will
make every effort to set the game as soon as possible after its originally scheduled date and will
attempt to schedule the game at its original site. If unable to do so, the Football Operations
Department will schedule it at the nearest available facility.
ARTICLE 10. POSTSEASON INTERRUPTION. (17-1-10)
If an emergency interrupts a postseason game and such game cannot be resumed on that
same date, the Football Operations Department will make every effort to arrange for its
completion as soon as possible. If unable to schedule the game at the same site, the Football
Operations Department will select an appropriate alternate site. The Football Operations
Department will terminate the game short of completion only if the continuation of the game
would not be normally expected to alter the ultimate result.
ARTICLE 11. GAME RESUMPTION. (17-1-11)
In all instances where a game is resumed after interruption, either on the same date or a
subsequent date, the resumption will begin at the point at which the game was interrupted. At
the time of interruption, the Referee will call timeout and will make a record of the following: the
team possessing the ball, direction in which its offense was headed, position of the ball on the
field, down, distance, period, time remaining in the period, and any other pertinent information
required for an efficient and equitable resumption of play.
SECTION 2 EXTRAORDINARILY UNFAIR ACTS (17-2)
ARTICLE 1. LEAGUE AUTHORITY. (17-2-1)
The League office has the authority to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary and/or
corrective measures if any club action, non-participant interference, or calamity occurs in a UFL
game which the League deems so extraordinarily unfair or outside the accepted tactics
encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the
game.
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ARTICLE 2. NO CLUB PROTESTS. (17-2-2)
The authority and measures provided for in this entire Section 2 do not constitute a protest
machinery for UFL clubs to avail themselves of in the event a dispute arises over the result of a
game. The investigation called for in this Section 2 will be conducted solely on the League’s
initiative to review an act or occurrence that the League office deems so extraordinary or unfair
that the result of the game in question would be inequitable to one of the participating teams.
The League office will not apply authority in cases of complaints by clubs concerning judgmental
errors or routine errors of omission by game officials. Games involving such complaints will
continue to stand as complete.
ARTICLE 3. PENALTIES FOR UNFAIR ACTS. (17-2-3)
The League office’s powers under this Section 2 include the imposition of monetary fines and
draft-choice forfeitures, suspension of persons involved in unfair acts, and, if appropriate, the
reversal of a game’s result or the rescheduling of a game, either from the beginning or from the
point at which the extraordinary act occurred. In the event of rescheduling a game, the League
office will be guided by the procedures specified in 17-1-5–11, above. In all cases, the League
will conduct a full investigation, including the opportunity for hearings, use of game video, and
any other procedure the League office deems appropriate.
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RULE 18 OFFICIALS
SECTION 1 OFFICIALS (18-1)
ARTICLE 1. GAME OFFICIALS. (18-1-1)
The game shall be played under the supervision of seven officials: the Referee, Umpire, Down
Judge, Line Judge, Field Judge, Side Judge, and Back Judge. In the absence of seven officials,
the crew is to be rearranged according to the remaining members of the crew.
ARTICLE 2. JURISDICTION. (18-1-2)
The officials’ jurisdiction begins 100 minutes before the scheduled kickoff and ends when the
Referee declares the final score.
ARTICLE 3. REFEREE’S AUTHORITY. (18-1-3)
The Referee is to have general oversight and control of the game. The Referee is the final
authority for the score. If there is a disagreement between members of the crew regarding the
number of down, any decision, or the application, enforcement, or interpretation of a rule, the
Referee’s decision will be final. The Referee’s decisions upon all matters not specifically placed
under the jurisdiction of other officials by rule are final.
If a situation arises that is not covered by a specific rule or palpably unfair, the Referee, after
consulting with designated members of the Officiating Department shall make such ruling as
they consider equitable.
ARTICLE 4. RESPONSIBILITIES AND MECHANICS. (18-1-4)
Officiating responsibilities and mechanics are specified by the UFL Officiating Department.
SECTION 2 SUPPORT FROM UFL OFFICIATING STAFF (18-2)
The Replay Official and designated members of the Officiating department at the League office
may consult with the on-field officials to provide objective information regarding on-field rulings
and the correct application of playing rules. In addition, if the designated members of the
Officiating department determine that a foul for a football or non-football act called on the field is
flagrant, then they can instruct the on-field officiating crew to disqualify the player(s) who
committed the foul. Those players who were not penalized, but who engaged in football or nonfootball acts that were determined to be flagrant and directly related to the foul called on the
field, may also be disqualified by designated members of the Officiating department. A penalty
will be assessed when a player was not penalized by on-field officials but was subsequently
disqualified pursuant to this Section. The determination that a foul is flagrant must be based on
the available video provided on the television broadcast, and the designated members of the
Officiating department must instruct the officiating crew to disqualify the identified player(s)
before the ball is next legally put in play.