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5 Really Obscure (But Really Real) Football Rules

December 10, 2014

NFL referees must know all the rules of pro football…even the strange ones.

Weird Football RulesIllegal leverage

While the team on offense attempts to kick a field goal or extra point, the defense may not push or pull members of their own team. It’s in place so as not to give the defense extra momentum, or an unfair advantage, that would allow them to block the kick attempt. In the 2013 NFL season, the New England Patriots were called for doing this in a game against the New York Jets; Patriots coach Bill Belichick argued that the Jets were doing the same thing when they were on defense, and the referees hadn’t noticed.

Drop kicks are legal

Believe it or not, a kicker or quarterback is allowed to drop kick the ball, as a rugby player would, by bouncing the ball off the ground and then kicking it downfield. During the earlier, rounder-ball days of the NFL, it was a common occurrence; since the 1960s merger of the AFL and NFL, only one player has successfully done it. Perhaps completing an NFL bucket list, Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie drop kicked the ball during his very last NFL game in 2005.

No touching!

If the center snaps the ball to the quarterback, and he somehow manages to completely miss it and lets it go through his legs, only the quarterback may then pick up the ball. Tis happened in 2007, when Chicago Bears quarterback Brian Griese let the snap sail through his legs. A player on the Eagles picked it up and ran it for a touchdown, but it was taken back and the Bears given a five-yard penalty.

Coin toss procedure

To conduct the pre-game coin toss, each team may send out up to six uniformed, active roster players. Failure to send more, or any uniformed or inactive players earns the team an automatic coin toss loss.

Post-score possession

After a team scores a touchdown, the other team automatically gets possession of the ball and the chance to start their own drive, right? Wrong. Technically, the team just scored on gets to decide if they want to kickoff or receive. Nobody ever elects to receive (again).

For more football trivia read Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Sports Spectacular.

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Paul WhitingHeath Anthony HolderTravis HettBrent Bollmeier Recent comment authors

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Brent Bollmeier

The last one — the team that scored has the option of receiving the ball again? Why wouldn’t they? Is it the defenive team that allowed the TD has the choice, but always elects to receive?

Travis Hett
Travis Hett

Didn’t see that last rule in there, the rulebook says:
“Kickoff After Try. After a Try, the team on defense during the Try shall receive the kickoff (6-1-1-a)

Heath Anthony Holder

Actually the team that just got scored on always elects to receive.

Paul Whiting
Paul Whiting

Regarding the coin toss, I think during the playoffs (I know at the Super Bowl), they have former players in suits out there. Just proves those darn refs picking and choosing what rules to follow! 🙂

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