Football Ops

Football Ops

Protecting the integrity of the greatest game.

NFL Ops: Honoring the Game

It's our responsibility to strengthen the sport.

League Governance

Ensuring a consistent and fair game that is decided on the field, by the players.

NFL Rules Enforcement

Ensuring that players conduct themselves in a way that honors the sport and respects the game.

Fines & Appeals

The NFL's schedule of infractions and fines, and a process for appeal.

Economic & Social Impact

Honoring the league’s commitment to serve the communities where the game is played.

The NFL Ops Team

Meet the people behind NFL Operations.

The Game

The Game

Learn about the people, the jobs and the technology that deliver the best game possible to NFL fans across the U.S. and around the world. 

Gameday: Behind the Scenes

Countdown to kickoff: how NFL games happen.

Technology

In the NFL, balancing technology with tradition.

Impact of Television

How television has changed the game.

History of Instant Replay

Upon further review…

Creating the NFL Schedule

It takes hundreds of computers and four NFL executives to create the NFL's 256-game masterpiece.

The Players

The Players

Learn how NFL players have changed over time, how they’re developed and drafted and how the league works with them after their playing days are over.  

Evolution of the NFL Player

Creating an NFL player: from “everyman” to “superman.”

Development Pipeline

Supporting the next generation of players and fans.

Getting Into the Game

Preparing players of all ages for success at football’s highest level.

The NFL Draft

Introducing the next wave of NFL superstars. 

NFL Player Engagement

A look at the programs the NFL and its partners provide to help every player before, during and after his football career.

NFL Legends Community

Celebrating, educating, embracing and connecting all former NFL players with each other, their former teams and the league.

The Officials

The Officials

Discover the evolution of professional officiating, the weekly evaluation process and how the NFL identifies and develops the next generation of officials.

In Focus: History of the Official

“One thing hasn’t changed: the pressure. It will always be there.”

Inside NFL GameDay Central

The latest information from the NFL's officiating command center.

These Officials Are Really Good

Every week, officials take the field ready to put months of preparation, training and hard work on display, knowing that the whole world — and the Officiating Department — is watching.

Officiating Development

Officiating an NFL game takes years of training and experience. 

Behind the Stripes: Timeline

Starting the next week’s work when this week’s final whistle blows.

The Rules

The Rules

NFL Football Operations protects the integrity of the game by ensuring that the rules and the officiating are consistent and fair to all competitors.

In Focus: Evolution of the NFL Rules

The custodians of football not only have protected its integrity, but have also revised its playing rules to protect the players, and to make the games fairer and more entertaining.

2016 NFL Rulebook

Explore the official rules of the game.

NFL Video Rulebook

NFL SVP of Officiating Dean Blandino explains NFL rules with video examples.

2016 Rules Changes and Points of Emphasis

NFL Overtime Rules

NFL Tiebreaking Procedures

The NFL's procedures for breaking ties for postseason playoffs.

Signals Intelligence

The NFL's familiar hand signals help fans better understand the game.   

Stats Central

Stats Central

Go inside the game with the NFL's official game stats.  Sort the stats by season or by week.

Chart The Data

Chart and compare the NFL Football Operations stats you're looking for with the NFL's data tool. 

Weekly Dashboard

Get a snapshot of the current NFL game stats, updated weekly during the regular season.

NFL Rules Enforcement

Ensuring that players conduct themselves in a way that honors the sport and respects the game.

Tens of millions of NFL fans watch games each week during the season. During each contest, the league’s world-class athletes overwhelmingly conduct themselves in a way that honors the sport and respects the game, their fellow players, the fans and the league.

Occasionally, a player’s actions on the field may fail to live up to the league’s expectations. On-field action is governed not only by the rules of play, but also by a code of conduct, established by the league and the NFL Players Association, that specifies the behavior that will not be tolerated and the minimum punishments for each transgression. 

It’s the job of the compliance officers within NFL Football Operations to make sure that players adhere to this code and exhibit exemplary behavior during every one of the 332 preseason, regular season and playoff games. In doing so, the compliance team helps to fulfill the NFL’s responsibilities to players, officials and business partners, as well as to the game’s young fans and their parents.

WHY Fines?

Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman and New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. square off in a week 15 game during the 2015 NFL season. Norman was fined $26,044 for personal foul penalties and Beckham, Jr. was suspended for one game. (Evan Pinkus via AP)

Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman and New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. square off in a week 15 game during the 2015 NFL season. Norman was fined $26,044 for personal foul penalties and Beckham, Jr. was suspended for one game. (Evan Pinkus via AP)

The Compliance Department’s jurisdiction covers player behavior on the field, including endangering a fellow player’s safety, fighting, unsportsmanlike conduct and other acts that could be deemed “detrimental to the league.”

This code of conduct is not handed down from on high. It is not designed to take the fun out of the game or raise money for the league.

Most rules and fines are the result of the collective bargaining process between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. Before each season, every player receives a copy of the fine schedule, which lists major infractions, the resulting fines and the appeal process. Players sign a form acknowledging that they agree to follow the code of conduct and understand the violations and fines. The code protects players and officials, the game’s integrity and fairness, and the league itself.

When feasible, the league gives players every opportunity to avoid a fine: The NFL communicates with players and teams year-round so they understand what the rules are, why they exist, what happens when they’re broken and how the appeals process works.

The fines collected do not go to the NFL, but instead go to programs for former players. The Players Association and the league have agreed to donate fine money through the NFL Foundation to the NFL Player Care Foundation and the Gene Upshaw Players Association’s Player Assistance Trust.

The Player Care Foundation, an independent organization dedicated to helping retired players improve their quality of life, provides programs and assistance with medical, emotional, financial, social and community issues.

The Gene Upshaw Players Assistance Trust assists former players who are facing financial hardship due to unforeseen crisis, unaffordable medical situations and helps those who wish to go back to school to finish their undergraduate degrees.

Since 2009, about $4 million a year has gone to help former players.

CONSISTENT ENFORCEMENT AND A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY

The rules exist for the good of the game, and complying with them is a shared responsibility. During the offseason, players receive clear instructions on violations and penalties. The NFL and its Compliance Department apply those rules consistently and fairly for all 32 teams and their players.

Football Operations staff, including Executive Vice President Troy Vincent, personally visit players who have run afoul of the rules. They review the league’s expectations and offer advice on preventing future fines or suspensions. In many cases, players are shown videos of their past infractions and are told how to correct the behavior that resulted in the fine.

Infractions and punishments are specified to make sure that players maintain control of their emotions and exhibit the utmost sportsmanship. Fines are stiff for inappropriately confronting or contacting a game official. The league will not tolerate game action that may endanger the health and safety of players, including roughing the passer, horse-collar tackles or hits on defenseless players. Fighting is strictly prohibited. Using profanity, displaying gang signs and taunting opponents also will draw the league’s attention. The Compliance Department also protects all NFL business and licensing agreements and makes sure that uniforms are worn properly — with partners’ logos displayed and others covered or removed. (While players can use any equipment they like, the only logos that can be shown are those of the league’s official partners.)

Every year, players and teams have the opportunity to provide feedback on rules and policies. Any that are believed to have had a measurable negative impact on the game or the players are re-evaluated, although player complaints and concerns may not get a rule changed. For example, when the league required all players to wear thigh and knee pads, there were many complaints before the season ranging from “It looks bad” to “It slows me down.” The league stuck to the rule; when players were surveyed on this and other topics at the end of the season, there wasn’t a single complaint about the thigh and knee pads.

FINES: A LAST RESORT

The NFL makes sure that all players, teams and key staff know what constitutes a violation and what will lead to a fine or other discipline. Compliance officers communicate with teams that are being spotted too often for a particular foul, such as late hits. A coach can then work with the players to fix the issue and avoid additional fines.

“We hold teams responsible for those violations as much as players when that happens,” said Akil Coad, the league’s compliance manager. In the case of uniform violations, players are given the opportunity to either change their gear or cover the logo of a company that isn’t an NFL partner.

“We don’t want to fine anybody,” Coad said, “and we actively try to prevent it.” The league employs a former player at each stadium to help catch uniform issues before the game starts.

FOR THE GOOD OF THE GAME

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was fined $11,576 for jumping on the goal post to celebrate a touchdown in a 2015 game against the Indianapolis Colts. Brown received an unsportsmanlike penalty for using the goalpost as a prop. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich, File)

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was fined $11,576 for jumping on the goal post to celebrate a touchdown in a 2015 game against the Indianapolis Colts. Brown received an unsportsmanlike penalty for using the goalpost as a prop. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich, File)

The NFL revises the code of conduct as needed to address trends that may be detrimental to the league.

In an effort to protect quarterbacks from excessive injuries, the league redefined “illegal hits.” Initially, the number of fines for those hits spiked, but over time the number dropped as players adjusted to the change. NFL fines for illegal hits on QBs have declined nearly 50 percent since the changes went into effect in 2009.

Overall, violations that incur fines have decreased 32 percent since 2009 as players adjust. And players adjust quickly: Fines for hits against defenseless players have declined nearly 38 percent in the two years since it became a point of emphasis in 2012.

Fans don’t watch NFL games to track fines and suspensions; they tune in to see two teams leave it all on the field for 60 minutes. Contests marred by dangerous or unprofessional behavior take away from the greatness of the NFL.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association agree: Making sure players and staff conduct themselves in a manner that honors the game and safeguards it for future generations is a priority. This shared responsibility and commitment results in a great game, enjoyed by fans worldwide.

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