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 COVID-19 Protocols

Social Justice

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.

Game Day Assistants

See the NFL personnel at every game, what they do and you can identify them. 

Impact of Television

How television has changed the game.


In the NFL, balancing technology with tradition.

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 annual 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.

NFL Legends Community

Strengthening the NFL brotherhood.

NFL Total Wellness

NFL Total Wellness assists players, Legends and their families before, during and after their playing experiences.

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.

2020 NFL Rulebook

Explore the official rules of the game.

2020 Rules Changes and Points of Emphasis

NFL Overtime Rules

NFL Tiebreaking Procedures

The NFL's procedures for breaking ties for postseason playoffs.

NFL Rules Digest

A quick reference guide to the NFL rulebook.

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.

The Extra Point

Welcome to the Extra Point, where members of the NFL's football data and analytics team will share updates on league-wide trends in football data, interesting visualizations that showcase innovative ways to use the league's data, and provide an inside look at how the NFL uses data-driven insight to improve and monitor player and team performance.

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.

The NFL in 1990 implemented a rule to protect student-athletes who have remained in school to complete their school work.

The “May 16 Rule” is an NFL effort to make sure that drafted rookies who have yet to graduate can finish their college educations without pressure to drop out to join their new NFL club.

The NFL tracks the end of the school year for all FCS schools. Currently, rookies from only six universities are affected by this rule. Washington, Northwestern, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA have exams after June 1.

Before 1990, NFL rookies would report to minicamps and then stay for the duration of the team’s offseason program.

Since clubs required all drafted players to participate, some players would drop out of school to attend. In some instances, clubs would even prohibit — or would strongly discourage — a player from returning to his college for his graduation ceremony.

Graduation rates were very important to colleges then, as they are now. When drafted players dropped out without graduating, it created an issue for the colleges. The American Football Coaches Association — an association of football coaches and staff on all levels — reacted by locking pro scouts off of college campuses.

Throughout the 1990s, the NFL and AFCA continued to adjust the policy to balance the legitimate need of clubs to begin developing their rookies, while maintaining cordial and cooperative relationship with colleges.

If dropouts were allowed to report to their clubs early, the student-athletes who remain in school would be put in a competitive disadvantage. They could face pressure from clubs and their fans to participate in offseason activities. Initially the NFL decided to make either June 1 or the date of a player’s final exams the date when a rookie could report to his club.

By 1999, the AFCA agreed to change the June 1 date to May 16. This date was selected to align the number of colleges with final exams dates that concluded on or after May 16, but before June 1.

Now, the AFCA agrees to let the NFL select a date “on or about May 16” to begin its rookie football development program (in 2017, the date was May 15).

Each year, NFL Player Personnel asks the AFCA to approve a date that will allow for the CBA-negotiated, seven-week rookie football development program. The AFCA only asks in return that players be permitted to return to school to “walk” at graduation.

The May 16 Rule

The following rule applies to rookie players who were eligible for the Principal Draft:

(i)   Players who attend schools with final examinations that conclude prior to May 16* may fully participate in any activities (i.e., tryout, physical examination, three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp, or RFDP) at a club’s facility beginning May 15.

(ii)  Players who attend schools with final examinations that conclude after May 16* may not participate in any activities other than the three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp until after the player’s final day of examinations.

(iii)  Players who have withdrawn from school may not attend any club activity (other than the three-day post-Draft Rookie minicamp) or be visited at his campus or residence, or any other location, by any club personnel or club representative if final examinations have yet to conclude at the school. This includes drafted players, any undrafted players that have signed as free agents, and any undrafted players that have not signed.

* May 16 or a date close to that agreed upon with the AFCA. In 2017, that date was May 15.