Football Official

Football Official

Zebra

Somewhere in, NJ

Male, 62

I've officiated football for over 30 years, now in my 26th on the college level. I've worked NCAA playoffs at the Division II and III level. In addition, I've coached at the scholastic level and have been an educator for over 35 years. I have no interest whatsoever in being an NFL official! Ever!

SubscribeGet emails when new questions are answered. Ask Me Anything!Show Bio +

Share:

Ask me anything!

Submit Your Question

361 Questions

Share:

Last Answer on September 09, 2019

Best Rated

I am following up on a question you answered regarding "pushing the pile." Just to be clear, were you saying no penalty, but forward momentum should be ruled stopped? Or were you saying that the pushing can advance the ball?

Asked by cflanagan@edwardswildman.com almost 6 years ago

Pushing can move the pile.  But at some point you have forward progress stopped.  In close line play it is a massive scrum; you aren't calling helping the runner.  The wing officials - head linesman and line judge, the two on the line of scrimmage - are going to rule on that.

Is "pushing the pile" a form of assisting the runner and therefore a penalty (or at least should forward momentum be deemed stopped)? Our referee this past weekend decided that it was not a violation even though it was clearly being done.

Asked by cflanagan@edwardswildman.com about 6 years ago

Different rules in high school and college, so let's first look at that. NCAA changed the rule this year to take out any reference to pushing the runner. NCAA Rule 9-3-2 says no teammate of the ball carrier "shall grasp, pull, or lift him to assist him in forward progress". So you can push him or the pile. The high school rule (9-1) states, "An offensive player shall not push, pull or lift the runner to assist his forward progress". So technically the push is illegal in high school football.

Without having seen the play I would tend to agree with your referee. In my many years of officiating I have NEVER seen helping the runner called.  And I dont want to.   Especially in close line play, how do you really determine that?  Most of my colleagues would avoid the call.  Obviously if a player lifts his teammate and literally tosses him over the pile, that's different. Generally speaking, progress was stopped - no foul.  Don't be too technical.  Next down!

Why in the NFL does the QB come onto the field during a change of possession time out? Is there a rule against staying by the coach until play resumes?

Asked by steve almost 6 years ago

I'm sorry, but I don't understand this question.

What does it mean when referees give the false start motion to each other before the snap. I've seen the umpire and referee doing it as they are walking backwards. It appears that they are trying to communicate something to each other.

Asked by dalarson2@gmail.com almost 6 years ago

You've hit it - they're telling each other the foul.  It is done in the NFL and in college to save time and move the game along.  On something like a false start, it is pretty straight forward.  Rather than come in to conference, the calling official (the one who threw the flag) will signal and call out (or with indicate fingers) the number of the offending player.  You'll see officials come together on more complex plays or when there could be a question. For example, there might be movement by offensive and defensive linemen; who committed the foul?  The two line of scrimmage officials (and sometimes the umpire) will come in to discuss it; did the defense cause the offense to jump or vice versa?

I'm editing my response as I re-read your question.  You wrote before the snap.  I was responding to officials giving that signal after a flag is thrown.  The "rolling hands" - in college - among officials is given prior to 4th down, and it is a reminder that there are specific 4th down rules in effect for the upcoming play.  If you're writing about the NFL, I'm not sure, but I'll check on that.  Sorry for my mistake in responding the first time.

In rugby, if the wind knocks the ball off the tee, this is considered a "live ball" until the kicker asks the ref if he can reset the ball. Is this the same in NFL (or any other level of American Football)?

Asked by KFA over 5 years ago

Well, KFA, I know very little about rugby, but as you can see from your first question above, the answer is no.  Since you raise "live ball" vs. "dead ball", in American football, the ball is not live until it is kicked. It isn't in play until foot hits ball.

Here is the play in question. During a punt a member of the receiving team touches the ball which eventually gets into the endzone and is recovered by another member of the receiving team and is not advanced out of the endzone. Touchback or safety?

Asked by Rob about 6 years ago

Touchback.  There is an old saying in officiating: a kick is a kick is a kick.  A kick remains that until it is possessed, and what you describe has no possession until the receiving team recovers it in the endzone.  Had the first receiver controlled the ball (possession) and then fumbled it into the endzone, then we have a safety.

in ncaa football, what is the specific rule of marching bands playing during the game?

Asked by neal almost 6 years ago

If there's an NCAA rule about bands, it isn't coverd in the NCAA Football Rules book (thankfully - one less thing to worry about!).  There might be some rules that universities and their bands follow, but it isn't a concern for officials.  The only reference to bands in the football rules is in the timing rule, Rule 3-4-1-b, regarding making sure half time is over as scheduled and getting the second half started on time. But even that rule states that bands "are under the jurisdiction of home management."  My sense is that the rule of thumb is that the band stops as the offense (home or visitor) comes to the line.