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.

2017 Rules Changes and Points of Emphasis

The NFL is committed to protecting its players from unnecessary risk, while keeping the game fair, competitive and exciting.

The NFL Competition Committee receives and considers input from coaches, general managers, owners, players 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 rule change it considers:

  • Does the change improve the game?
  • Can it be officiated?
  • Can it be coached?
  • Can the player play by the rule?

The Committee spoke with current players and NFL Legends and included many of their suggestions in its recommendations.


Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders winds up like a baseball pitcher before throwing the football after scoring a touchdown on a 3-yard run. Sanders was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for the celebration. In 2017, players can use the football as part of their celebrations. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders winds up like a baseball pitcher before throwing the football after scoring a touchdown on a 3-yard run. Sanders was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for the celebration. In 2017, players can use the football as part of their celebrations. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Many players voiced their desire for greater freedom to express themselves. The league listened and changed its guidelines to allow more spontaneous celebrations, while maintaining standards of sportsmanship and respect.

Players can now use the ball as a prop when celebrating scoring plays or changes of possession, participate in group celebrations with teammates and have celebrations on the ground.

However, acts directed at an opponent, deemed offensive or violent in nature, or celebrations using any object other than the football as a prop are still violations.

Players also voiced their concern over:

  • Blindside blocks
  • Players leaping over linemen to block field goals or PAT kicks
  • Launching
  • Low hits on the quarterback

This feedback led to many of the recommendations ultimately presented to the Committee. All 32 club owners vote on the Committee’s recommendations. The proposed changes that earn the support of 75 percent of the owners (24 “yes” votes out of 32 clubs) are approved.

Learn how the NFL Competition Committee works.

The league reviews the changes with players, coaches and officials during training camp, the Rookie Transition Program 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.

2017 RULES CHANGES

Explore the official rules of the game with this searchable version of the official 2017 NFL Rulebook.

Explore the official rules of the game with this searchable version of the official 2017 NFL Rulebook.

In the interest of protecting players from unnecessary risk, NFL owners voted to:

  • Prohibit running toward and leaping across the line of scrimmage in an obvious attempt to block field goal or extra-point kick. Previously, it was a foul if the “leaper” contacted other players. Now it is illegal if he crosses the line of scrimmage, regardless of whether he contacts other players.
  • Give a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection when a defender approaches from behind or the side. The change prohibits forcible contact to the head or neck area or with the crown of the helmet. Once the receiver becomes a blocker, or assumes a blocking posture, he no longer has defenseless player protection.
  • Prohibit crackback blocks by an offensive player in a backfield position and in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped. A player in motion can legally block a defender if he blocks upfield and not back toward the position where the ball was snapped.
  • Reduce the length of preseason and regular season overtime periods to 10 minutes.
The Patriots' Shea McClellin leaps over the line of scrimmage in an attempt to block a kick during Super Bowl 51. In 2017, NFL owners voted to prohibit running toward and leaping across the line of scrimmage in an obvious attempt to block field goal or extra-point kicks. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The Patriots' Shea McClellin leaps over the line of scrimmage in an attempt to block a kick during Super Bowl 51. In 2017, NFL owners voted to prohibit running toward and leaping across the line of scrimmage in an obvious attempt to block field goal or extra-point kicks. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Club owners voted to extend two rules changes that were implemented for one year in 2016. The owners:

  • Made permanent the rule that disqualifies a player penalized twice in one game for certain unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. The player is disqualified whether the penalty is accepted or declined by the opponent or whether the official judges the fouls to be flagrant. Fouls that occur during pregame warm-ups carry over into the game and the game official retains the discretion to judge a foul to be flagrant and disqualify a player after one occurrence. The fouls are:
    • Throwing a punch or a forearm, or kicking at an opponent, regardless of whether the player makes contact with his opponent
    • Directing abusive, threatening or insulting language or gestures toward opponents, teammates, officials or league representatives
    • Using baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams
  • Extended for another year the rule that places the spot of the next snap after a touchback on a free kick at the 25-yard line. The additional season will allow the Committee to gather more data on the effect of this change.
Learn more about how the NFL's rules have evolved.

The owners also voted to:

  • Replace the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorize designated senior members of the Officiating Department to make the final decision on replay reviews.
  • Make it an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.
  • Make actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half. 

2017 POINTS OF EMPHASIS

The Bengals Andy Dalton gets hit low, drawing a penalty. Low hits on quarterback will be strictly enforced by NFL game officials in 2017. (Paul Spinelli via AP) 

The Bengals Andy Dalton gets hit low, drawing a penalty. Low hits on quarterback will be strictly enforced by NFL game officials in 2017. (Paul Spinelli via AP) 

The Competition Committee continues to emphasize the importance of sportsmanship and of taking improper techniques out of the game. In addition to enforcing unnecessary hits away from the play, game officials will strictly enforce existing rules, including:

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