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Ensuring a consistent and fair game that is decided on the field, by the players.
Ensuring that players conduct themselves in a way that honors the sport and respects the game.
The NFL's schedule of infractions and fines, and a process for appeal.
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Upon further review…
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“One thing hasn’t changed: the pressure. It will always be there.”
The latest information from the NFL's officiating command center.
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 an NFL game takes years of training and experience.
NFL Football Operations protects the integrity of the game by ensuring that the rules and the officiating are consistent and fair to all competitors.
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The NFL Competition Committee receives and considers input from coaches, general managers, owners and players, and conducts hours of discussion and film study before recommending changes to any rule. All 32 club owners vote on the Committee’s recommendations and the proposed changes that earn the support of 75 percent of the owners (24 “yes” votes out of 32 clubs) are approved.
The league will review the changes with players, coaches and officials during team visits, the Rookie Transition Program and the NFL Officiating Clinic to help everyone adapt to the rules changes and points of emphasis. The NFL Officiating department will also develop training videos for players and coaches with specific examples.
In 2016, NFL owners voted to:
Learn more about how the NFL's rules have evolved.
The owners also voted to amend two rules changes to be implemented on a trial basis for one year only. The Competition Committee and the owners will re-examine these rules after the season and determine if they should be made permanent or further modified.
Field Goal/Extra Point Rush Tactics
Game officials will monitor and strictly enforce the rules pertaining to illegal acts committed by the defensive team while trying to block field-goal and extra-point attempts during the 2016 season, including:
Not only do these tactics create an unfair advantage for the defense, they also are potentially dangerous and could lead to player injuries.
Once a runner begins a feet-first slide before contact is imminent, defenders cannot make any forcible contact and must treat a sliding runner as they would any runner who is down by contact. Once a runner begins a slide and becomes protected, he can no longer advance the football, regardless of contact by an opponent. Runners who slide sideways or headfirst will not have special protection.
Runners (especially quarterbacks) who want the protection afforded sliding players must make every effort to slide feet-first before contact is imminent. If a runner starts his slide when contact is imminent, a defender is not prohibited from making forcible contact, as long as it is below the head/neck area.
Low Hits on Passer
Quarterbacks in a passing posture within the pocket are protected from forcible contact to the knee area or below. A defender may still make contact low as long as he only uses his arm(s) to swipe, wrap or grab the passer in an attempt to tackle him.
Game officials will pay particular attention to and enforce pre-snap movement by offensive linemen, particularly movement of the ball, which simulates a snap. A center dropping or turning his head, or a guard tapping the center, is legal provided the movement is not quick or abrupt.
Crown of Helmet
For safety reasons, the Committee believes that crown-of-the-helmet hits by defenders that were previously legal because the defender did not line up the runner should be illegal regardless of whether the defender lines up the runner prior to making contact. When the rule was first implemented, game officials were instructed to look for three elements for interpreting the rule for initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet:
Game officials will be instructed to call fouls when a defender lowers his head and makes forcible contact with the crown of his helmet on a runner outside the tackle box. The line-up requirement will still apply to a runner, since in many instances that player ducks his head to protect himself from impending contact by a defender, rather than to deliver a blow.
Coaches in Field of Play
Despite being a point of emphasis in previous seasons, the issue of coaches leaving the bench area to gain the attention of the game officials or entering the field of play for other reasons continues to be a widespread problem. The Committee sees no other recourse than to direct game officials to penalize coaches who do not comply with the rule.
A head coach can leave the bench area to get the attention of a game official when the snap takes place at a yard line not within the bench area and the coach is trying to call a team timeout or challenge an on-field ruling, and during an injury timeout to check the welfare of an injured player.
A coach cannot leave the bench area to question a game official, and at no time is a coach allowed onto the field of play. At no time can an assistant coach leave the bench area, even during breaks after scoring plays. These rules remain in effect during any timeout. Only incoming substitutes, team attendants or trainers seeing to the welfare of a player may enter the field. Violations will result in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and the coach and/or the club may face additional discipline.