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.

2016 NFL Rulebook

Explore the official rules of the game.

NFL Video Rulebook

The NFL Video Rulebook 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.

Evolution of the Catch Rule

Current catch/no catch rule. There are three requirements for catching a pass (or establishing possession of any loose ball):

(a)   Firm grip and control of the ball
(b)  Two feet (at least) or some part of the body, other than hands or feet, on the ground
(c)   Maintaining control of the ball for some element of time after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled

The issue of “time” has been addressed in the NFL Rulebook in a variety of ways over the years:

Prior to 1938: “Catch” was not defined in the playing rules.

  • 1938:   A supplemental note stated that “Player possession denotes that a ball in play has been momentarily held by a player and that he has had such control of it as to enable him to perform any act common to the game.” The issue of time was more clearly expressed in 1942 when it was restated to say: “A player is in possession when he has held the ball long enough to give him such control as to enable him to perform any act common to the game.” Time enough “to perform any act common to the game” remained the standard for more than four decades; the fact that the time requirement commenced after the player had both feet on the ground was never expressed, though it was understood.
  • 1981:   The rule was amended to state: “A player is in possession when he has held the ball long enough to give him control when his second foot has clearly touched the ground inbounds.”
  • 1982:   The language was changed to the following: “In order for an eligible receiver of a forward pass to be in possession, he must control the ball throughout the act of clearly touching both feet, or any other part of his body other than his hand(s), to the ground inbounds. If the player is hit causing the ball to come loose simultaneously while clearly touching inbounds both feet, or any other part of the body except the hand(s), there is no possession. If, when the ball comes loose, there is any question whether the above acts are simultaneous, the ruling shall be no possession.” 

    The standard established in 1981 and 1982 required a receiver to hold on to the ball for a shorter period of time than was previously the case. The 1981 version required only that the second foot be clearly on the ground for the player to have established possession; the 1982 version stretched the requirement slightly, clarifying that if possession was lost simultaneously with both feet clearly on the ground, the pass was incomplete. Effectively, the player had to hang on to the ball for a period of time longer than clearly touching both feet to the ground. The result of the 1981 and 1982 changes, however, was more catch/fumbles (except in the end zone where they were catch/touchdowns) and fewer incomplete passes.
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