NFL Video Rulebook

The NFL Video Rulebook explains NFL rules with video examples.

Ineligible Receiver

Rule Summary View Official Rule

Section 1

ARTICLE 6. INELIGIBLE RECEIVERS

All offensive players other than those identified in Article 5 above are ineligible to catch a legal or illegal forward pass thrown from behind the line of scrimmage, including:

a) Players who are not on either end of their line or at least one yard behind it when the ball is snapped.

b) Offensive players wearing numbers 50–79, unless they have reported a change in their eligibility status to the Referee and have assumed a position on their line or in their backfield as required by Article 5;

c) Players who fail to notify the Referee of being eligible when required;

d) An eligible receiver who has been out of bounds prior to or during a pass, even if he has re-established himself inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands.
Exception: If an eligible receiver is forced out of bounds by a foul by a defender, including illegal contact, defensive holding, or defensive pass interference, provided he attempts to return inbounds immediately, he becomes eligible to legally touch the pass (without prior touching by another eligible receiver or defender) as soon as he re-establishes himself inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands. See Article 8, Note 3.

e) A player who takes his stance behind center as a T-formation quarterback is not an eligible receiver unless, before the ball is snapped, he legally moves to a position at least one yard behind the line of scrimmage or on the end of the line, and is stationary in that position for at least one second before the snap.
Note: If he leaves his position behind the center and does not receive the snap, it is Illegal Motion unless he has been stationary for at least one full second prior to the snap.

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