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.
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Honoring the league’s commitment to serve the communities where the game is played.
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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.
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Creating an NFL player: from “everyman” to “superman.”
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“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.
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The NFL Competition Committee receives and considers input from coaches, general managers, owners, current players and NFL Legends, the NFL Players Association, medical personnel and the media, and conducts hours of discussion and film study before recommending changes to any rule.
During this process, the Committee asks several questions about each potential rule change:
There was a particular emphasis placed on player protection, which resulted in rules changes and points of emphasis to reduce risk and prevent injury.
The league reviews changes with players, coaches and officials during training camp and the NFL Officiating Clinic to help everyone adapt to the rules changes and points of emphasis. The Officiating Department also provides training videos for players and coaches with specific examples.
The most significant change for 2018 is the new Use of Helmet rule. The rule states that it is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent. This rule pertains to all players on the field, and to all areas of the field.
The officiating standards for the Use of Helmet rule are:
Players can be ejected for use of helmet fouls — and all ejections will be reviewed by senior officials in Art McNally GameDay Central in New York. The standards for ejection are, if:
Owners voted to change the kickoff rules for the 2018 season. The Committee will reevaluate the effects of the changes in the offseason.
Beginning this season:
Visit the NFL rulebook to see the official language for the 2018 kickoff rules.
Owners voted to simplify the standards of a catch. There are now three main requirements for completing a catch. The player must:
A player no longer must control the ball through the ground for a completed catch, and movement of the ball does not automatically result in loss of control. If a player loses control of the ball, it is an incomplete pass if the ball hits the ground before he regains control, or if he regains control out of bounds.
A receiver is considered defenseless throughout the entire process of a catch, up until the player is capable of avoiding or warding off impending contact.
It is an illegal bat if:
A forward pass in flight may be tipped, batted, or deflected in any direction by any eligible player at any time. No player may deliberately kick a loose ball or a ball that is in a player’s possession.
Other rules changes for 2018 include:
The Competition Committee continues to emphasize the importance of sportsmanship. The league office will continue to hold players accountable for flagrant hits and non-football acts through suspensions and ejections.
Illegal Contact will be more strictly enforced this season. The rule states that beyond five yards “a defender cannot initiate contact with a receiver who is attempting to evade him,” and that “a defender may use his hands or arms only to defend or protect himself against impending contact by a receiver.” Otherwise, only incidental contact is permitted.
Both offensive and defensive pass interference will also be strictly enforced, including:
The Committee clarified the protections for sliding quarterbacks and any runner who gives himself up:
The Committee reviewed hits on quarterbacks inside and outside the pocket. In some instances, the defender used all or part of his body weight to land on the quarterback immediately after the ball was thrown. These actions put the quarterback at risk for injury. The Officiating Department will emphasize that the defender is responsible for avoiding landing on the quarterback when taking him to the ground.
While there is no rule change, the Officiating Department will emphasize in 2018 that fouls are called when defenders initiate contact to the head or neck area of the snapper.
On punt plays, officials will strictly enforce that gunners must demonstrate an immediate effort to take an angle to return inbounds once they are in the white border. Gunners running in the white border often put players, coaches and sideline personnel at risk. If a gunner does not show that he is immediately taking an angle to return inbounds, a foul will be called.
Officials will immediately blow the whistle when the play is over or when a runner’s forward progress has been stopped. Players should attempt to avoid any contact after the whistle is blown. Unnecessary and forcible contact to an opponent after the whistle has been blown will result in an unnecessary roughness penalty.