Football is one of those games that can send spectators into fits of frenzied
delight, spells of muddled confusion or a combination of both states of mind.
Rule infractions and subsequent penalties are probably the most frequent causes
of incomprehension among the spectators. Perhaps the most moot and sometimes
misunderstood of these rules are those which concern forward pass interference,
clipping and what constitutes a safety.
It is illegal for a defensive player to interfere with an offensive player
while he is trying to catch a pass. And turn about: an offensive player mustn't
interfere with a defensive player attempting an interception. As a guide, the
official has the premise of a bona fide simultaneous attempt to catch or bat
down the ball—in this case "interference" is not interference. In all
other cases it is. Penalty: a first down for the fouled team at the point of
interference. (One exception: defensive interference in the end zone which
gives the ball to the offense on the one-yard line.)
Clipping is running or diving into the other fellow's back or throwing or
dropping the body across the back or legs of an opponent not carrying the ball.
This is the rule. However, no official should ever attempt to call this foul
unless he spots it from its inception. Many a time an opponent can turn his
back to a potential downfield blocker as contact is made. This is not
To distinguish between a safety (2 points) and a touchback (no score), the
spectator should keep in mind that the deciding factor is which team gave
impetus to the ball. If the offensive team fails to advance the ball beyond its
own goal line (e.g., a runner trapped behind the line of scrimmage in his own
end zone), it is a safety. A touchback, more common, results when a punt,
kickoff or intercepted pass is grounded in the end zone by the receiving team
without attempting to run it out. Then the ball is placed in play on the
20-yard line of the receiving team.
(WHITE JERSEYS) HOLDING
offensive man is arm-locked to keep him from moving to play—5 yards.
SCISSORING END: a
potential pass receiver is pinned to scrimmage line—5 yards.
CRY WOLF: defense
fakes being held by hooking arm of offensive lineman—5 yards.
(BLACK JERSEYS) HOLDING
BLOCK: blocker must have hands in contact with his own body. Note the looping
left arm—15 yards.