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.

NFL Careers in Football Forum

The NFL strives to cultivate a qualified and diverse workforce.

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.

2017 NFL Rulebook

Explore the official rules of the game.

NFL Video Rulebook

The NFL Video Rulebook explains NFL rules with video examples.

2017 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.   

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.

NFL Field Certification

NFL Football Operations leaves little to chance when preparing fields for gameday. See what goes into making sure the playing surface is perfect for every game.

Few things play a more important role in the quality, integrity and safety of an NFL game than the playing field. All playing surfaces must be in the best possible condition to showcase the players’ skills and talents.

To ensure this, NFL Football Operations leaves little to chance when preparing fields for game day. Even the color of the tarp is prescribed.

Because a white tarp reflects the sun’s rays and is less likely to burn the grass, the NFL mandates its use on natural grass fields in warm-weather locations and on those in cool-weather sites from August through October. From November through January, those cold-weather sites are instructed to flip their tarps to the dark-colored side; since darker colors absorb the sun’s rays, that helps to warm the grass and melt snow and ice.

That’s just one example of how NFL Football Operations makes sure its venues are ready for each week’s contests. Home teams are responsible for ensuring that their fields live up to NFL standards and comply with the league’s recommended practices.

ENSURING A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD — LITERALLY

If a field fails to meet the NFL’s standards on any of the tests, the club must fix the problem and retest before game day. To make sure test results are accurate, the league may send a third-party company to do spot checks on a day’s notice.

Field certification experts test all fields — synthetic turf and natural grass — for hardness up to 72 hours before a game. A Clegg Impact Tester drops a weight at several designated points on a field to measure its hardness. Spots that are too hard or too soft must be fixed and retested — and must pass the test before gameday.

The NFL requires a visual inspection of all fields to check for defects or foreign objects. Field managers often drag the field with a magnet to look for items such as loose screws, bolts or nuts left behind by a concert, spikes that may have fallen out of player cleats, or other debris.

A Dallas Cowboys player warms up for an NFL game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. (AP Photo/Aaron M. Sprecher)

A Dallas Cowboys player warms up for an NFL game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. (AP Photo/Aaron M. Sprecher)

The NFL’s synthetic fields are tested for the depth and evenness of the infill — the substance that absorbs impact and creates the field’s foundation, allowing it to play like a natural surface. The league measures infill depth at 40 designated areas around the field to make sure that it isn’t too soft or too hard and that the infill is distributed evenly. In spots that are uneven, crews can add, remove, or smooth the infill.

Synthetic fields must be certified for infill before every game. The league recommends certifying a synthetic field no more than seven days before a game, which allows for an evaluation and leaves time for any needed repairs. If a concert or other event is held on the field, the infill must be tested between the event and the next NFL game.

Natural surfaces are tested for moisture content at the same time they are tested for hardness. Within 48 hours after a game, the field is also subject to a stability test, which measures how well it held up.

There is no single way to define exactly when a field is stable or when it should be resurfaced, so the league relies on an expert’s opinion. Field experts use the online Gameday Field Surface Reporting System to grade fields in three areas:

  • Surface shear (how easily grass separates from the soil), measured in nine locations
  • Percentage of the field covered by grass, measured in nine locations
  • Overall rating on a scale from 1 to 10

These criteria determine whether a surface is fine or needs to be repaired or replaced.

The league recommends that all NFL venues consider the dates of scheduled games when planning other events to allow enough time for repairs, irrigation or replacement of a playing surface before the next game.

NFL Football Operations prescribes when clubs must cover fields and which safety-tested chemicals they can use for treating ice. There are also requirements that clubs have enough snow removal equipment on hand and that they have enough bright-colored paint in case snowfall makes the field markings “indistinguishable from the body of the playing field.”

Clubs sharing a grass-surface stadium with a baseball team must sod the infield within two weeks of the baseball team’s final game. All clubs with natural grass fields submit a resodding plan to the league; no natural surface makes it through a full season without needing to be resodded.

A lot of preparation — and a little luck

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll walks on the field before Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos. Hard work and a break from Mother Nature helped Game Operations staff get the MetLife Stadium field ready for the game.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll walks on the field before Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos. Hard work and a break from Mother Nature helped Game Operations staff get the MetLife Stadium field ready for the game.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Despite all of the planning and hard work, sometimes NFL officials and field managers in open-air stadiums still need help from Mother Nature.

Winter weather created terrible conditions on the synthetic field at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium before Super Bowl XLVIII in February 2014. There had been so much snow and rain that moisture had gotten into the field and had frozen after overnight temperatures dipped into the single digits. The field’s hardness measurements were “staggeringly high.”

Two nights before the Super Bowl, the NFL brought in vibrating steamrollers to break up the ice, and temperatures in the 30s the day before the game helped warm the field up and dry it out. Workers covered the field and blew heat under the tarp all night, then groomed the field the morning of the game. At kickoff, the temperature on the field was 49 degrees.

“The field is great for the Super Bowl and we look like heroes, but it was a really lucky break with the weather,” said Mike Kensil, the vice president of game operations at the time. “And the next day, we get nine inches of snow — it starts snowing like a madman. So I’ve even thought, ‘Man, even Mother Nature won’t mess with the Super Bowl.’”

Español