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NFL Rules That Need to Be Sacked

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As we sit in the second half of the NFL season, it’s been full of surprising wins, devastating injuries and annoying league rules. At this point in time, we’ve seen players injured by these rules as well as games lost.

Here’s NFL rules that need to be sacked.

Completing the Catch: Take a look at Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3 Completed or Intercepted Pass. It states the following:

A player who makes a catch may advance the ball. A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense) if a player, who is in bounds:
(a) secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and
(b) touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands; and
(c) maintains control of the ball long enough, after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, to enable him to perform any act common to the game (i.e., maintaining control long enough to pitch it, pass it, advance with it, or avoid or ward off an opponent, etc.).

Note 1: It is not necessary that he commit such an act, provided that he maintains control of the ball long enough to do so.

Note 2: If a player has control of the ball, a slight movement of the ball will not be considered a loss of possession. He must lose control of the ball in order to rule that there has been a loss of possession.

This has been fondly referred to as the Megatron rule and when translated it says: If a player loses the ball while touching both of either his feet or any body part to the ground, it is not considered a catch.

In addition, should a player catch an air ball while in the end zone, has both feet land in bounds but is then hit and goes to the ground, why does an official then wait until the player is smashed to the ground and then decides it was a caught ball?

Defenseless Player: Here’s the rule, Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7: Players in a Defenseless Posture.

(a) Players in a defenseless posture are:

(1) A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass;
(2) A receiver attempting to catch a pass; or who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a runner. If the receiver/runner is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of an opponent, he is no longer a defenseless player;
(3) A runner already in the grasp of a tackler and whose forward progress has been stopped;
(4) A kickoff or punt returner attempting to field a kick in the air;
(5) A player on the ground;
(6) A kicker/punter during the kick or during the return (Also see Article 6(g) for additional restrictions against a kicker/punter);
(7) A quarterback at any time after a change of possession (Also see Article 8(f) for additional restrictions against a quarterback after a change of possession);
(8) A player who receives a ―blindside block when the offensive blocker is moving toward or parallel to his own end line and approaches the opponent from behind or from the side, and
(9) A player who is protected from an illegal crackback block (see Article 2);
(10) The offensive player who attempts a snap during a Field Goal attempt or a Try Kick.

It is a foul if a player initiates unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture.This rule namely protects quarterbacks, kickers and a player set to get hit from the blindside from a devastating injury. But this rule does not extend to defenses.

The Double Foul: This is when penalties offset one another. It reads as the following:

Rule 14, Section 5 Fouls by Both Teams (Double Fouls)
Article 1: Double Foul Without Change of Possession. If there is a Double Foul (3-12-2-c) during a down in which there is not a change of possession, the penalties are offset, and the down is replayed at the previous spot. If it is a scrimmage down, the number of the next down and the line to gain is the same as for the down in which the fouls occurred.

Here is the exception to the rule: a 15-yard penalty not being offset by a five-yard penalty. Isn’t there a better way for this penalty such as taking the net difference of yards for the penalty instead of offsetting it?

Emmitt Smith Rule: This rule should just be called, Boys keep your helmets on. It reads as follows:

Rule 12, Section 3 Unsportsmanlike Conduct
Article 1: Prohibited Acts. There shall be no unsportsmanlike conduct. This applies to any act which is contrary to the generally understood principles of sportsmanship. Such acts specifically include, among others:

(h) Removal of his helmet by a player in the field of play or the end zone during a celebration or demonstration, or during a confrontation with a game official or any other player.

The rule is referred to the Emmitt Smith Rule as the player would remove his helmet after scoring a touchdown in an effort for TV cameras to view his face. Really, what harm did it do to either the game or the other players with the helmet taken off?

Illegal Pushing: In their Week 7 loss to the New York Jets, the New England Patriots had an interior defensive lineman during a field-goal attempt push a teammate in the butt, as an attempt to block the kick; a flag was thrown and the Jets gained yards on the field and nailed the game-winning field goal.

Needless to say, this didn’t go over well by Patriots coach Bill Belichick but ironically it later came out after reviewing video that in the same game, officials had missed the same call versus the Jets (see Quinton Coples).

Uh-oh.

While the rule has been initiated to avoid potential accidental injuries to players, a rule already protects the snapper, giving some order in field goal attempts.

But here’s the second part of pushing rules for offenses.

Rule 12, Section 1, Article 4—OTHER PROHIBITED ACTS
No offensive player may:
(a) pull a runner in any direction at any time; or
(b) use interlocking interference, by grasping a teammate or by using his hands or arms to encircle the body of a teammate; or
(c) trip an opponent; or
(d) push or throw his body against a teammate to aid him in an attempt to obstruct an opponent or to recover a loose ball.

Penalty: For assisting the runner, interlocking interference, tripping, or illegal use of hands, arms, or body by the offense: Loss of 10 yards.

How often do we see a runner short of either of the goal line or first down getting pushed by one of his lineman across the coveted threshold? Yep, this is a violation.

The K Ball: After stopping kickers from fixing balls to extend their distance and straightening them out, the league created the regulated K ball. This offers a sense of parity for teams as new footballs are now reserved for kicking plays. From a Chargers.com article,  it explains that for outside games, each team will receive eight of these K balls and six for indoor games.

The balls have a letter “K” designation and the week’s number. Prior to the game, these K balls are sent to the assigned NFL officials for the stated game on the night before game day. Straight from the factory, balls come in with a “W” mark to prevent tampering prior to the game.  The official guards it with his life and the boxes are not opened until they arrive at the field for the game.

Would it really be the worst thing to have a ball go further for punters or have more field goals?

Plays Under Review: Think about the times an official says a player was down prior to the end zone. A review must then be initiated by a coach, regardless if the replay shows the football had in fact crossed the goal line.

The reason for the replay in these instances is to get scoring action correct but why not review any possibly scoring plays at the goal-line?

The Sock Rule: Think of this as the NFL fashion rule and one that comes with a ridiculous fine: $5,000 to $10,000 for a player either wearing incorrect socks or wearing the right ones but they’re too low.

Take a look at this rule: Rule 5, Section 4, Article 3

Equipment, Uniforms, Player Appearance
Stockings 
 (f) Stockings must cover the entire area from the shoe to the bottom of the pants, and must meet the pants below the knee. Players are permitted to wear as many layers of stockings and tape on the lower leg as they prefer, provided the exterior is a one-piece stocking that includes solid white from the top of the shoe to the mid-point of the lower leg, and approved team color or colors (non-white) from that point to the top of the stocking. Uniform stockings may not be altered (e.g., over-stretched, cut at the toes, or sewn short) in order to bring the line between solid white and team colors lower or higher than the mid-point of the lower leg. No other stockings and/or opaque tape may be worn over the one-piece, two-color uniform stocking. Barefoot punters and placekickers may omit the stocking of the kicking foot in preparation for and during kicking plays.

Taunting Rule: Remember Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate overtly taunting in the recent St. Louis Rams game? Yep, the league is reviewing this rule and may tweak it.

Currently the taunting rule is dead-ball foul or an “unsportsmanlike conduct penalty” that is sanctioned after a play. In 2014, this may change. According to ESPN, Dean Blandino, head of officiating for the league, said the NFL could change how the taunting rule is enforced by the NCCA. ESPN.com wrote:

“A lot of people felt that the touchdown shouldn’t have counted [but] a taunting foul is always treated as a dead-ball foul, meaning whatever happened during the play counts, and the foul is enforced on the next play, which would be the kickoff. In college, this action would take back the touchdown.”

Can you think of any other rules that need to be sacked?

 

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Debbie Baratz

Deb has been writing about the NFL and NCAA football for the last few years. She is a full-time writer and an avid sports fan. Follow her on twitter @ldbar.

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  • snitch2

    The Emmitt Smith rule of not removing your helmet is a perfectly legitimate rule. Said another way, you’re being penalized for being a dick. And EVERYONE knows it.

  • Ptcpaul

    Seems like every penalty on defense results in a automatic 1st down, 3rd and 30 hands to face 10 yards and automatic first down, same with holding. OK I can see holding by DB but a defensive lineman?

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