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 inaugural 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.

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.

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.

Health & Safety

Together with the NFLPA, the NFL works to ensure players receive medical care and that policies and protocols are informed by input from medical experts.

The league continues to make advances, on and off the field, in an effort to protect its players by championing new developments in engineering, biomechanics, advanced sensors, and material science that mitigate forces and better prevent against injuries in sports; supporting independent research to advance progress in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of head injuries; and sharing these learnings across all levels of football — and to other sports and society at large.

PROTECTING PLAYERS

The NFL enforces rules changes aimed at eliminating potentially risky behavior that could lead to injuries. The Competition Committee, which spearheads the rules-changing process, reviews injury data after every season and examines video to see how injuries occur. More than a dozen NFL health and safety committees, subcommittees and panels provide input, as does the NFL Players Association. The Player Safety Advisory Panel submits formal recommendations directly to the Competition Committee and the Commissioner. Their analysis covers all injuries impacting players, including concussions and ACL/MCL tears, and considers how protocols and rules changes are making an impact on player safety.

Through rules changes, including the recent kickoff modifications and the "Use of the Helmet" rule — which states that it is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent — the NFL is leveraging data in an effort to improve player safety and evolve the game.

For the “Use of the Helmet” rule change, for example, the comprehensive review of data and video led by the NFL’s medical and engineering advisors suggested that there may be an increased risk associated with lowering the head to align the neck and spine to initiate and make contact with the helmet. Accordingly, the clubs unanimously agreed to a rule change aimed at reducing that risk.

Applied Analytics: Use of the Helmet Rule

The review also showed that over the course of all games during the 2015-2017 seasons, the kickoff represented only six percent of plays but 12 percent of concussions. Data suggested that players had approximately four times the risk of concussion on the kickoff compared to running or passing plays. Accordingly, modifications to the kickoff rule addressed the components that were understood to pose the most risk, like the use of a two-man wedge, while maintaining the play. The Competition Committee worked with special teams coaches and NFL medical and engineering advisors to consider changes to the kickoff play during an owners and coaches session in early May. NFL clubs approved the Competition Committee’s proposal later that month during the Spring League Meeting.

The NFL and the NFLPA work together to protect players by outlining infractions or penalties for improper player conduct, dangerous plays or incorrect use of safety equipment. For example, the NFL requires players to wear thigh and knee pads during games to better protect them from leg injuries. As with helmets and shoulder pads, players not wearing the mandatory protective equipment are not permitted onto the playing field and may be fined.

Additionally, the league mandates the proper maintenance and testing of playing fields to reduce the risk of injury. In 2016, the NFL and NFLPA established the Field Surface Safety & Performance Committee to perform research and advise on injury prevention, improve testing methods and adopt tools and techniques to evaluate field surface performance and playability. It also oversees the NFL stadium inspection program, which includes testing of NFL playing surfaces by engineers retained by the NFL, under observation by NFLPA experts.

EVOLUTION OF EQUIPMENT

Each year, helmets undergo laboratory testing by biomechanical engineers appointed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to evaluate which helmets best reduce head impact severity. The results of the laboratory tests are displayed on a poster and shared with NFL players, club equipment managers, as well as club medical, training and coaching staffs to help inform equipment choices. In 2018, based on the results of this study and the opinions of the biomechanical experts involved, the NFL and NFLPA prohibited 10 helmet models from being worn by NFL players. Moving players into better performing helmets is an important step toward reducing injuries, and it reflects the strong collaboration between the NFL and NFLPA to promote player safety. (Note: Laboratory test conditions are intended to represent potentially concussive head impacts in the NFL. Results of this study should not be extrapolated to collegiate, high school, or youth football.)

The NFL Musculoskeletal Committee has also coordinated extensive research on athletic shoe safety and performance. The committee has developed laboratory tests that evaluate which cleats best permit release from synthetic turf during potentially injurious loading. The results of those tests are set forth on the poster here, and shared with NFL players, club equipment managers, club medical, training and coaching staffs to help inform equipment choices. Other factors, in addition to the ranking, should be considered by players when choosing cleats, including fit, shoe structure, comfort, durability, player position and the player’s medical history.

The Right Fit: Evaluating Helmet Performance

THE TEAM BEHIND THE TEAM

On average, there are 30 healthcare providers at a stadium on game day to give immediate care to players. In conjunction with the NFLPA, the league has added unaffiliated medical personnel and adopted new technology to assist in the identification and review of injuries, with a specific focus on concussions. 

NFL medical professionals follow the step-by-step NFL Concussion Protocol when they are identifying, diagnosing and treating player concussions. The NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee — a board of independent and NFL-affiliated physicians and scientists, including advisors for the NFL Players Association — developed the NFL Game Day Concussion Diagnosis and Management Protocol in 2011. The Concussion Protocol is reviewed each year in an effort to ensure players are receiving care that reflects the most up-to-date medical consensus on the identification, diagnosis, and treatment of concussions. For the 2018 season, additional improvements were made to the Concussion Protocol.

INJURY REDUCTION PLAN

After a 16 percent year-over-year increase in concussions during the 2017 season, NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills issued a call-to-action to reduce concussions. The result was the Injury Reduction Plan, a three-pronged approach to drive behavioral changes: 

  • Preseason Practices: The NFL is sharing information across the league to educate, stimulate change and enhance player safety—including information about concussions in preseason practices. The time during the preseason, the drill, the player position and how each club's injury data compare to the rest of the league are just some of the information shared with each club. Clubs have been asked to review practice schedules and monitor contact drills, particularly in the early weeks of training camp.  
  • Better Performing Helmets: Each year, helmets undergo laboratory testing by biomechanical engineers appointed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to evaluate which helmets best reduce head impact severity. The results of the laboratory tests are displayed on a poster and shared with NFL players, club equipment managers, as well as club medical, training and coaching staffs to help inform equipment choices. In 2018, based on the results of this study and the opinions of the biomechanical experts involved, the NFL and NFLPA prohibited 10 helmet models from being worn by NFL players. Moving players into better performing helmets is an important step toward reducing injuries, and it reflects the strong collaboration between the NFL and NFLPA to promote player safety. (Note: Laboratory test conditions are intended to represent potentially concussive head impacts in the NFL. Results of this study should not be extrapolated to collegiate, high school, or youth football.)
  • Rules Changes: The third component is the enforcement of rules changes aimed at eliminating potentially risky behavior that could lead to injuries. Through the latest changes, including kickoff modifications and the "Use of the Helmet" rule—which states that it is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent—the NFL is leveraging data in an effort to improve player safety and evolve the game. 

MEDICAL RESEARCH

The NFL is investing in and supporting preeminent experts and institutions to advance progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of head injuries. 

$40 million in funding has been allotted in the Play Smart. Play Safe. initiative for medical research over five years, primarily dedicated to neuroscience. The NFL has assembled a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) — chaired by Peter Chiarelli, U.S. Army Gen. (Ret.) — of leading independent experts, doctors, scientists and clinicians to develop and lead a clear process to identify and support compelling proposals for scientific research. In September 2017, the SAB opened a funding opportunity for innovative translational research on concussion and comorbid conditions.

The NFL also contributed approximately $14 million to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health to advance medical research on brain injuries, especially among athletes and veterans. The grants included $12 million for pathology studies through the Sports and Health Research Program (SHRP) and six pilot projects totaling more than $2 million to provide support for the early stages of sports-related concussion projects. 

In January 2018, the NFL announced $16.3 million in funding for a series of government-funded projects — including prospective, longitudinal, multi-site, peer-reviewed efforts to answer leading questions on traumatic brain injury, concussion and provide insights on neurodegenerative diseases, including CTE, as well as other cognitive impairments related to aging.

Learn more about the NFL’s support for medical research.

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