Health & Safety
Working toward protecting athletes in football and across all sports.
Protecting the integrity of the greatest game.
It's our responsibility to strengthen the sport.
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.
Knees Bent. Pads Down. Head Up.
The NFL is proud of the HBCU professional football legacy.
Honoring the league’s commitment to serve the communities where the game is played.
Meet the people behind NFL Operations.
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.
Countdown to kickoff: how NFL games happen.
In the NFL, balancing technology with tradition.
How television has changed the game.
Upon further review…
It takes hundreds of computers and four NFL executives to create the NFL’s 256-game masterpiece.
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.
Creating an NFL player: from “everyman” to “superman.”
Supporting the next generation of players and fans.
Preparing players of all ages for success at football’s highest level.
Introducing the next wave of NFL superstars.
A look at the programs the NFL and its partners provide to help every player before, during and after his football career.
Celebrating, educating, embracing and connecting all former NFL players with each other, their former teams and the league.
Discover the evolution of professional officiating, the weekly evaluation process and how the NFL identifies and develops the next generation of officials.
“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.
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.
The NFL Video Rulebook explains NFL rules with video examples.
Explore the official rules of the game.
The NFL's procedures for breaking ties for postseason playoffs.
The NFL's familiar hand signals help fans better understand the game.
Sharpen your NFL football knowledge with this glossary of the game's fundamental terms.
See where the players line up in pro football's most common offensive and defensive formations.
Understand what the graphics on NFL television broadcasts mean and how they can help you get the most out of watching NFL games.
The NFL’s instant replay review process focuses on expediting instant replay reviews and ensuring consistency. Learn how it works.
Go inside the game with the NFL's official game stats. Sort the stats by season or by week.
Chart and compare the NFL Football Operations stats you're looking for with the NFL's data tool.
Get a snapshot of the current NFL game stats, updated weekly during the regular season.
Working toward protecting athletes in football and across all sports.
The league works to protect player by adopting and enforcing the rules, educating athletes at all levels of the game, advocating for better technique and training at all levels, and continuously researching new technologies and innovations.
Throughout its history, the NFL has revised its rules to remove dangerous play from the game. 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.
See the NFL's health and safety rules changes over the past 30 years.
Eliminating chop blocks, horse-collar tackles and hits on defenseless players and emphasizing roughing-the-passer rules have helped protect players from unnecessary risks. When injuries on kickoffs emerged as a concern in the 2000s, the league moved the kickoff line to reduce the rate of returns and outlawed wedges of three or more blockers.
In addition, the NFL and the NFL Players Association work together to protect players by outlining infractions and punishments for improper player conduct, dangerous plays or incorrect use of safety equipment. The league also mandates the proper maintenance and testing of playing fields to reduce the risk of injury.
The NFL works closely with coaches, staff and players at all levels of football — from youth leagues and high schools to colleges and beyond — to emphasize proper tackling techniques and educate the entire football community about ways to limit injuries.
League efforts include Heads Up Football, which offers education programs for coaches of youth and high school programs, teaches young players proper tackling techniques and provides players, coaches and parents with programs on injury and health awareness.
Learn more about how the NFL is leading the way in protecting players at all ages.
The days of simple leather pads are long gone. Now the NFL works with equipment partners and engineering experts to identify cutting-edge technologies and innovations to help keep players safe without affecting their performance or the quality of play.
This holds true from head to toe. Manufacturers recently modified the design of chin straps in response to player complaints about their durability, and an NFL Safety Equipment and Playing Rules Subcommittee evaluates the performance of safety equipment for head and neck protection. An NFL Foot and Ankle Subcommittee tests shoes for durability and flexibility, and analyzes injury data to inform its work with shoe and equipment manufacturers.
Over the past 90-plus years, helmets have evolved from soft leather that offered minimal protection to polycarbonate shells with advanced suspension and cushioning systems. And technological advancements have enabled manufacturers to develop shoulder pads that are both more comfortable and more protective.
More than a dozen NFL committees, subcommittees and panels — many with independent scientific and medical experts as members — study injury-prevention issues in depth. They make recommendations to the league on health-related issues, policies, research and programs and contribute to the rule-making process.
The league also provides tens of millions of dollars in grants and other funding for research projects. The NFL Foundation in 2014 committed $25 million over a three-year period to test and expand health and safety projects, including $1 million to pay for athletic trainers in underserved high schools across the country.
The NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee has developed a comprehensive set of protocols to diagnose and manage concussions in players, along with a sideline tool to evaluate potentially injured players in real time. Players must meet established criteria before returning to the field after a possible injury.
NFLevolution.com describes the NFL’s concussion-related policies, procedures and programs in detail.
In addition, at every game the NFL has independently certified athletic trainers — referred to as ATC spotters — who serve as another set of eyes to spot potential injuries. They focus in particular on concussions and other head and neck issues.