Rules of American football: Understanding the rules and requirements of the NFL

Rules of American football: Understanding the rules and requirements of the NFL

Babu Tendu
October 3, 2022 at 8:24 PM

In the world of sport, one of the most demanding and outstanding activities to participate in is American football. The NFL is one of the most popular leagues in the world. Many sports fans like the roughness and no-nonsense nature of the sport. The sports, however, have parameters per the game. The rules of American football are very keen and precise and will be discussed in this post.

Rules and requirements of soccer
The National Football League is the most famous in relation to American football. This post focuses on the rules of American football. Photo by (Modified by author).
Source: Original

Some of the most famous sports figures, including Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, have mastered the art of following the rules required to become legal on the grounds. But conversely, failure to follow the standard procedures leads to penalties unique to American football.

Requirements of American football

In the United States, a player must have graduated from high school three years before being drafted into the NFL. To play in the NFL, a player must, at the very least, possess a high school diploma.

The NFL also demands that players spend time playing college football because they want players who have some maturity and experience under their belts.

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Rules of American football
Dontrell Hilliard of the Tennessee Titans runs with the ball during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 2, 2022, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Michael Hickey.
Source: Getty Images

Before the upcoming college football season starts, players who wish to declare for the NFL draft must exhaust all of their remaining college eligibility. Usually, this entails finishing four years of college and receiving the degree of their choice upon graduation.

Those who haven't finished school can ask the NFL to let them enter the draft early. These athletes might never finish their degrees or go back and finish them later.

American football rules and positions

Who enforces the rules in American football? A team of three to seven referees oversees the game. Each crew will have a referee who oversees play and keeps an eye on the quarterback and the offensive backfield, an umpire who spots the ball and monitors the offensive line, and a head linesman who is in charge of setting up the down box and line-to-gain chains.

A line judge, back judge, field judge, and side judge may also be included in the crew in the following order: referee, umpire, head linesman, line judge, and back judge to make up a crew of five officials.

Officials are either chosen in advance by the teams or chosen by the governing league. While most lower-level officials only work games part-time, the NFL is implementing a new system where seven officials, one for each official position, will become full-time employees of the league (i.e. back judge, field judge, side judge, etc.)

Fumble in American football
Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers attempts a pass during the third quarter against the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field on October 02, 2022, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Photo by Stacy Revere.
Source: Getty Images

Officials are employed by their respective leagues in the other three major North American professional sports leagues, Major League Baseball, the NBA, and NHL. Full-time officials are required because the other three sports have so many games; the NFL's regular season has only 17 games since 2021, while MLB's season consists of 162 games, and the NBA and NHL each have 82 games.

A clock operator starts and stops the game clock (and possibly also the play clock) during the game. A chain crew holds the down indicator and the line-to-gain chains on the sideline. Ball boys hand out footballs to officials in between downs (e.g. a dry ball each down on a wet day).

The competing teams might supply these people; for example, it's typical for a high school coach's child to serve as the team's ball boy.

Fumble in American football

Football turnovers called fumbles occur when the ball carrier drops the ball, and a defender recovers it. Any action in which a player to loses possession of the ball, excluding passes and kicks. With one exception, a forward pass is made when a runner purposefully fumbles forward.

Roughs in American football
Kevin Byard of the Tennessee Titans in action during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 2, 2022, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Michael Hickey.
Source: Getty Images

Penalty in American football

The following is a list indicating most of the penalties in the NFL. These are the acts that are considered illegal on the football pitch. Once you break the rules of football, a penalty awaits.

  • Targeting
  • Spearing AKA
  • Running into kicker
  • Roughing the passer
  • Pass Interference
  • Offside
  • Neutral Zone Infraction
  • Intentional Grounding
  • Ineligible Receiver Downfield
  • Illegal Touching of a Free Kick
  • Illegal shift

Handball in American football

This event is not often pronounced in the sport, even though the sport practically involves travelling with the ball. Only when a team attempts a long field goal and the ball misses the goalposts does it occur.

Roughs in American football

Football is a high-contact sport that demands a balance between offence and defence. As a result, numerous rules govern player equality, safety, contact, and actions on both offence and defence. It is challenging to never break these rules without losing too much of an advantage.

As a result, a complex system of fouls and penalties has been created to "let the punishment fit the crime" and preserve both rule compliance and game flow.

Players are always trying to find a way to gain an advantage that goes beyond the constraints set forth by the rules. Likewise, coaches are constantly looking for ways to reduce the frequency and severity of infractions their players commit because they can significantly affect the result of a game.

Penalties in American football
Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half at Raymond James Stadium on October 02, 2022, in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann.
Source: Getty Images

It's a common misconception that the word "penalty" refers to an offence and its punishment. For example, a rule violation that carries a punishment is called a foul.

Depending on the type of foul, the offending team is typically penalized 5, 10, or 15 yards when one occurs. The down will typically be replayed from the new position if the foul is committed while the ball is in play (for example, if the offence commits a foul on a first-down play, the next play will still be first down, but the offence may have to go 15 yards, or farther, to achieve another first down.)

Handball in American football
Kylen Granson of the Indianapolis Colts during the game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 2, 2022, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Michael Hickey.
Source: Getty Images

The next play will be the first down of a new series if a defensive error causes the ball to move past the offence's first-down goal. However, some penalties (usually for more severe fouls) demand a down loss for the offence. Some defensive fouls may result in an automatic first down, regardless of the ball's position.

The rules of American football are precise due to the general rough nature of the sport that is physically challenging. Consequently, only disciplined and principled players have a smooth period on the pitch.

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The most influential footballers are the ones who performed remarkably for the club and country. Click on the link above to discover the 20 most influential footballers of this decade!

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