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.

NFL Way to Play

Knees Bent. Pads Down. Head Up and Out.

The NFL and HBCUs

The NFL is proud of the HBCU professional football legacy.

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. 

Game Day: 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 five NFL executives to create the NFL’s 256-game masterpiece.

Big Data Bowl

The annual analytics contest explores statistical innovations in football — how the game is played and coached.

Youth Football

Promoting the values of football.

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 and services NFL Player Engagement provides to assist every player before, during and after his football career.

College All Star Games

Strengthening football and the community.

NFL Legends Community

Strengthening the NFL brotherhood.

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 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.

NFL Video Rulebook

The NFL Video Rulebook explains NFL rules with video examples.

2019 NFL Rulebook

Explore the official rules of the game. 6.2.5

2019 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.   

NFL Rules Digest

A quick reference guide to the NFL rulebook.

Football 101

Football 101

Terms Glossary

Sharpen your NFL football knowledge with this glossary of the game's fundamental terms. 

Formations 101

See where the players line up in pro football's most common offensive and defensive formations.

Quick Guide to NFL TV Graphics

Understand what the graphics on NFL television broadcasts mean and how they can help you get the most out of watching NFL games.

NFL Instant Replay Process

The NFL’s instant replay review process focuses on expediting instant replay reviews and ensuring consistency. Learn how it works.

Stats Central

Stats Central

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

The Extra Point

Welcome to the Extra Point, where members of the NFL's football data and analytics team will share updates on league-wide trends in football data, interesting visualizations that showcase innovative ways to use the league's data, and provide an inside look at how the NFL uses data-driven insight to improve and monitor player and team performance.

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.

League Governance

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

It’s a great day for football. 

The field is in pristine condition. Screaming fans pack stadiums around the league and millions more tune in around the country. Like clockwork, the players appear, the national anthem is sung and the game begins — precisely on time.

Before a game even starts, Game Operations staff, league representatives and the highly skilled officiating crew begin enforcing rules designed to create an environment that is fair for both teams, exciting and entertaining for the fans, and protects the players. Each sideline and locker room is set up with the same technology, equipment and provisions to ensure that no team has an unfair competitive advantage.

(AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

(AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

After kickoff, fans watch game action — including touchdowns and disputed calls — on high-tech scoreboards. Coaches call in the next play to their quarterbacks or defensive captains as the action unfolds.

Yes, it’s a great day for football. What seems like the beginning of the action is actually the result of hours, weeks and months of careful coordination and preparation by a legion of dedicated professionals who work to preserve America’s favorite sport. The NFL pays meticulous attention to every detail that goes into putting on a professional football game — crafting the rules, training the officials, implementing the technology and more — to make sure that games are fair and entertaining.

The league does this by leading through consensus, but acting decisively when it’s in the best interest of the game.

It starts at the top, with the Executive Committee and the commissioner.

The Executive Committee includes one representative — an owner or top officer — from each of the league’s 32 clubs. Any change in game rules, league policy or club ownership or other modification to the game must be approved by at least three-fourths of the committee. Without consensus, nothing will pass.

As the league’s chief executive, the commissioner has a great deal of influence. But he still must answer to the owners, who by executive committee vote have the power to remove him.

NFL Football Operations strives to create a culture of clarity, consistency and credibility to proactively meet the demands of the game.

To create the consensus to get things done, the commissioner’s office works with more than two dozen committees that comprehensively research and examine possible rule or policy changes before making recommendations.

The Competition Committee, for example, leads the rule-making process, which takes input not only from its Coaches Subcommittee, but also from numerous other sources. And in a reflection of the league’s emphasis on player protection, about a dozen committees and subcommittees, many including outside medical experts, study injury-prevention issues in depth.

When it comes to the system for developing players and playing the game, NFL Football Operations runs the show. Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of Football Operations, and his team work to institute a culture of clarity, consistency and credibility to develop the future of the game, to honor its past while preparing for its future and to strengthen the NFL brand for players, coaches, clubs and fans. 

DECIDING GAMES ON THE FIELD

The league goes to great lengths to provide a consistent, fair, and TV- and fan-friendly product. It’s imperative that the games are decided on the field, between the two teams. The NFL Football Operations “bible” is the Game Operations Manual — nearly 200 pages of procedures and policy for regular season games alone. It is critical that the Game Operations Manual is incredibly precise and thorough.

The Game Operations Manual is one of the league’s three comprehensive policy manuals for member clubs — the other two are for administrative and business operations, and media and public relations — and, by necessity, it is often military-like in its precision and astonishing in its thoroughness.

The league’s Game Operations Department uses the manual to govern the conduct of both clubs, to ensure they protect players, coaches and football staff and provide the conditions for a fair and fan-friendly contest. Clubs may face fines and other penalties for noncompliance.

The manual represents years of learning from overseeing and producing more than 15,000 NFL games — the situations, big and small, that have affected, or may affect, the on-field product and may result in one team's having an unfair advantage over another.

“When we are writing policy, we think strategically and predict how teams could potentially interpret our policies. We have to be 8 steps ahead in order to be prepared for all of the unintended consequences while ensuring that our policies are both practical and clearly defined,” said Stephanie Durante, VP of NFL Game Operations.

The league edits the manual annually to try to prepare for any scenario that could affect a game. To protect players, the manual dictates the number and type of medical personnel required for each game. To ensure competitive equity, it guarantees that teams have equal access to communication tools, football technologies, facilities, etc. And to ensure equity across the league, the manual specifies the exact pylons, sideline chain sets and locations of game and play clocks.

The league conducts a review of club complaints and issues from throughout the year. If there is a legitimate competitive concern, they will consider updating the policy or writing new language.

Each club designates one person to oversee its gameday functions and serve as the point of contact for the Game Operations department. That person is responsible for addressing any field, stadium or operational issue that arises and coordinating needed follow-up with the league.

Game Operations sends a Football Operations Representative to every game. They are responsible for checking everything from field conditions and communications equipment to game security and each coach’s booth (which must have two TV monitors for each team) before game time. During the game, they serve as a communication liaison between the game site and the Game Day Operations Center (GDOC) in New York. The GDOC monitors all games and fields calls to address any concerns with the game sites, televising networks or anything else related to game operations. This can include issues as diverse as club-controlled sound, field-level access and weather conditions that may cause a delay in a game. If GDOC spots an issue, they will alert the on-site Football Operations Representative to address the issue in real time.

KEEPING UP APPEARANCES

The league also makes sure that the players take the field with approved equipment and in the designated uniform the teams have agreed to wear. A uniform inspector from Football Operations attends each game to ensure compliance — not only for appearance, but also for player protection, including mandatory proper use of thigh and knee pads, shoulder pads, approved face masks and clear visors.

Each team must designate a staff member to be its contact with uniform inspectors on policies governing uniforms and on-field apparel.

The NFL’s exclusive marketing agreements with approved brands mean that only those brand marks can be visible on the field. Players are not prohibited from wearing any other approved equipment they prefer, but nonpartner logos must be covered or removed.

THE LAST RESORT: Team FINES

The NFL takes infractions of Game Operations rules seriously — so much so that clubs risk fines as high as $500,000 for violations “affecting the competitive aspects of the game.” Some violations, such as late arrival for kickoff, can result in yardage penalties, and failure to comply with a uniform policy can result in a player’s temporary removal from the game.

The league takes violations seriously because it takes its responsibilities seriously. Good governance is an essential component in producing a fair and entertaining game.

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