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. 

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.

2017 NFL Rulebook

Explore the official rules of the game.

NFL Video Rulebook

The NFL Video Rulebook explains NFL rules with video examples.

2017 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.

Burl Toler

Burl Toler

NFL Head Linesman, 1965–1980

Burl Toler, a standout linebacker at the University of San Francisco, had dreams of an NFL career. The Cleveland Browns made him a first-round draft pick in 1952, but a severe knee injury in a college all-star game dashed his hopes of playing in the NFL. Undeterred, Toler focused on getting to the league through another avenue: officiating.
Former NFL official Burl Toler. (Pro Football Hall of Fame)

Former NFL official Burl Toler. (Pro Football Hall of Fame)

Toler was a pioneer in football and in life, paving the way for those behind him. He began his officiating career working college games in the Bay Area. In 1965, the NFL hired him as a head linesman — making him the first black official in any major professional sports league.

“It was a big break for me,” Toler told Ebony magazine that year, adding, in a reference to his career-ending knee injury, “far different than the one I got so many years ago.”

“We scouted him personally and in films,” NFL executive Jim Kensil told Ebony magazine, “and we believe he will be one of the best men we have.”

Toler proved Kensil right as he officiated in the NFL for 15 seasons — including working Super Bowl XIV in 1980, where he became the first black official in the championship game. 

Toler was a defensive star on the 1951 University of San Francisco Dons football team, which included future Hall of Famers Gino Marchetti, Ollie Matson and Bob St. Clair. While the team experienced extraordinary on-field success, a courageous decision made off the field is its lasting legacy.

A perfect 9-0 record earned the Dons an invitation to the Orange Bowl, with one stipulation: The two black players on the team, Toler and Matson, couldn’t play. The Dons voted — and unanimously refused the invitation. 

Off the field, Toler worked for 17 years at San Francisco’s Benjamin Franklin Middle School as a teacher, coach, counselor and principal — the first black secondary school principal in the Bay Area. In 2006, the school, which had been closed two years earlier, reopened as the Burl A. Toler Campus, home to two charter schools.

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