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.

2016 Rules Changes and Points of Emphasis

The NFL is committed to protecting its players from unnecessary risk, while keeping the game fair, competitive and exciting.

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.

Learn how the NFL Competition Committee works.

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.

RULES CHANGES

Explore the official rules of the game with this searchable version of the official 2016 NFL Rulebook.

Explore the official rules of the game with this searchable version of the official 2016 NFL Rulebook.

In 2016, NFL owners voted to:

  • Permanently move the line of scrimmage for extra point kick attempts after touchdowns to the defensive team’s 15-yard line, and permanently allow the defense to return any missed attempt. The owners approved this rule change in 2015 as a one-year trial and voted this year to adopt it permanently.
  • Permit offensive and defensive play callers on each team’s coaching staff to use the coach-to-player communication system whether they are on the field or in the coaches’ booth. Previously, the play caller had to be on the sideline to be allowed to communicate with the designated player.
  • Make all chop blocks illegal.
  • Expand the horse collar rule to include when a defender grabs the jersey at the nameplate or above and pulls a runner toward the ground.
  • Make it a delay of game foul when a team attempts to call a timeout when it is not permitted to do so.

NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating, Dean Blandino, reflects on how the history and evolution of the NFL rules influences today's rules.  

  • Eliminate the five-yard penalty for when an eligible receiver illegally touches a forward pass after being out of bounds and re-establishing himself inbounds. The owners voted to make it a loss of down.
  • Change the spot of enforcement when both teams commit a foul after a change of possession. The team last in possession shall retain the ball at the spot where they gained possession.
  • Allow the Replay Official and designated members of the Officiating department at the league office to consult with the on-field officials to provide information on the correct application of playing rules, including appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down and status of the game clock.
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Arthur Moats works his way through an illegal chop block in a game against the Arizona Cardinals. The NFL Competition Committee voted to make all chop blocks illegal beginning in 2016. (Paul Spinelli via AP)

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Arthur Moats works his way through an illegal chop block in a game against the Arizona Cardinals. The NFL Competition Committee voted to make all chop blocks illegal beginning in 2016. (Paul Spinelli via AP)

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.

In 2016:

  • A player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls will be disqualified. The types of fouls are:
    • Throwing a punch or forearm, or kicking at an opponent, even if no contact is made
    • Using abusive, threatening or insulting language or gestures toward opponents, teammates, officials or league representatives
    • Using baiting or taunting acts or words that engender ill will between teams.
  • The football will be spotted on the 25-yard line after a free kick results in a touchback. Previously, the ball was spotted at the 20-yard line.

POINTS OF EMPHASIS

NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating, Dean Blandino, goes over the rules changes and points of emphasis for 2016 with the Philadelphia Eagles' coaches.

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:

  • Making forcible contact below the waist of offensive blockers.
  • Grabbing an offensive blocker and pulling him to the side or toward the ground to create space or a gap for a teammate to rush through.
  • Using the hands or other parts of the body to push off an offensive blocker to gain leverage in an effort to block the kick.

Not only do these tactics create an unfair advantage for the defense, they also are potentially dangerous and could lead to player injuries.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford slides safely in a 2015 game against the Bears. NFL officials in 2016 will make sure that once a runner begins a feet-first slide before contact is imminent, defenders cannot make any forcible contact and must treat the sliding runner as they would any runner who is down by contact. (Paul Spinelli via AP)

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford slides safely in a 2015 game against the Bears. NFL officials in 2016 will make sure that once a runner begins a feet-first slide before contact is imminent, defenders cannot make any forcible contact and must treat the sliding runner as they would any runner who is down by contact. (Paul Spinelli via AP)

Quarterback Slide

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.

Pre-Snap Movement

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:

  • The player must line up his opponent
  • He must lower his head
  • He must make 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.

The NFL Competition Committee will direct game officials in 2016 to penalize coaches who do not comply with the rule. (Paul Spinelli via AP)

The NFL Competition Committee will direct game officials in 2016 to penalize coaches who do not comply with the rule. (Paul Spinelli via AP)

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.

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