Football is a complex game. It has many complicated rules, regulations and strategic situations that teams and players can take advantage of. How many of these interesting football facts do you know?
In this article, we’ll dive deep into the different rule variations, history of the game and uncommon football situations that don’t necessarily happen every game.
Here’s our pick of 10 interesting facts that you may not know about football. Let’s dive into the list!
1. Fair Catch Kick
A fair catch kick is an unfamiliar rule that is often called in any football game. The rule states that when a team fair catches a punt, they are eligible for a “fair catch kick”.
How is this possible?
This is when a team gets a chance to kick an uncontested field goal for a chance at 3 points. Here are the details:
- The return team needs to call for a clear fair catch, and successfully catch the football
- Once the ball is caught, the special teams unit will then come on to the field to attempt a field goal
- The defense can not rush the kicker. However, they can return a fair catch kick for a chance to score a touchdown. Essentially as soon as the ball is kicked, it is played like a field goal.
Watch the video below for further explanation.
2. Pop Warner Was Actually a Person and He Changed The Way Football Is Played
Pop Warner, who most will relate to the youth football league, was a major innovator in the game of football. Glenn Scobey “Pop” Warner went on to create many notable additions in the game such as:
- Single and Double Wing Formations
- 3 Point Stance
- Spiral Pass and Spiral Punt
- Trap Play
- Bootleg Play
- Naked Reverse
- Screen Pass
A former player as well as famous coach – Glenn was one of the great innovators of the game of football. Notable for his wins in the college ranks, Pop Warner coaches for the following teams:
- University Of Georgia
- Cornell University
- Carlisle University
- Pittsburgh University
- Stanford University
- Temple University
3. Picking Up a Touched Punt By Punt Team
Let us explain…
This rule is very interesting and it’s rarely taken advantage of. If a member of the punting team touches the football (in the air or when it is rolling), the receiving team may pick up the football and try to pick up as many yards as possible with no consequences.
If the player fumbles the ball, the team will not lose possession. This is because the player already technically “downed” by the kicking team (when the touched the player in the air or when it was rolling). Therefore the receiving team has the option to take the ball back from where it was originally touched.
Here is a great explanation from coachfore.org
“Rule 6-2-5 states that: If any K player touches a scrimmage kick first (and before the ball has come to rest), R (receiving team) may take the ball at the spot of first touching, or any spot if there is more than one spot of first touching, or they may choose to have the ball put in play as determined by the action which follows first touching. The right of the R to take the ball at the spot of first touching by K is cancelled if R touches the kick and thereafter during the down commits a foul or if the penalty has been accepted for any foul committed during the down.
So, the scenario might be that the punted ball lands on the ground, takes a hard bounce off of a kicking team coverage man, and then your punt returner picks it up before it has come to a rest. That returner can run the football back. It is NOT dead upon first touching. The ball is still live. Since it says that the receiving team can “put the ball in play as determined by the action which follows first touching,” this means you can choose to take the results of the return your returner got OR take the ball at the spot of first touching.
Notice that the choice is cancelled if there is a penalty on the return. This is a GREAT rule to know and to teach your kids because there is NO harm, NO risk for you to pick up the ball and run! If your returner fumbles the ball on his run back, you can STILL maintain possession by choosing to take the “first touching.”
To further clarify this rule, the officials’ “Case Book” states:
6.2.5 Situation A: K1 attempts to down a punt beyond the neutral zone, but his touching only slows it down. The bouncing ball is subsequently recovered by R1, who advances 25 yards but then fumbles and K2 recovers. RULING: R may either take the results of the play or retain possession by taking the ball at the spot of K1’s first touching. “
4. Dick Lebeau Invented the Zone Blitz
We see it as a routine on Saturday’s and Sunday’s. A linebacker or a defensive back will show blitz and a lineman will drop back into zone coverage. This is known a “zone blitz”. This blitz was made famous by Dick Lebeau (former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator, and of the Tennessee Titans).
Lebeau, known for his creative schemes, helped pioneer what would be known today as the “fire” or “zone” blitz. Typically run out of the 3-4 defense, Lebeau would send linebackers through multiple blitz packages and drop athletic lineman into space. This would cause confusion for the quarterback and make him think a receiver was open when in fact he wasn’t
Adding the to the pass rush wasn’t what was intended, but more so causing confusion for blocking schemes and quarterbacks.
5. Fair Catch a Kickoff
Teams all across the world are getting creative with their kickoffs. One kickoff in particular that is gaining popularity is the “Sky” kickoff. This is where a team will kick the ball in the air and try to recover it before it hits the ground.
One way to defend against this, is to call for a fair catch. This neutralizes the sky kick and will give your team good field position as well.
Teams in college (or high schools that play by NCAA rules) have now been fair catching kickoffs inside the 20 yard line. This helps teams who don’t have a great return game, get the ball automatically at the 25 yard line. Even teams who are great at returning kicks, can salvage some field position by waving for a fair catch inside the 20.
6. Establishing One Foot Out of Bounds On a Kickoff
This play is often utilized by smart returners who have a good grasp of the field. When a ball is kicked off, if it is rolling to the sideline a player can put one foot out of bounds and the other in bounds. This positioning signifies that the player is “out of bounds” and it will result in a “kick out of bounds” penalty.
This is a rare occurrence in football, but it can however help you salvage some field position. If the return team has one deep returner, it will take him a few seconds to get over to a ball that is rolling close to out of bounds.
Placing one foot out of bounds and reaching to gather possession will automatically render a flag to be thrown. Field position is everything in football, getting the kicking team to rekick the football, or take the ball at a designated field position may help save the game!
7. Blocking a Punt: Behind the Line of Scrimmage vs Beyond the Line of Scrimmage
Often times when a punt is blocked, it will have enough momentum/carry to go past the line of scrimmage, or it will go behind the punter and carry backwards. The rules of advancement change depending on where the ball is.
In front of the line of scrimmage: If the ball is blocked and it travels past the line of scrimmage, it is treated line a normal punt (same goes for if the ball is tipped)
Behind the Line of Scrimmage: If the ball is blocked behind the line of scrimmage, both teams may advance the block kick to their advantage.
For the punt return team, it’s important to know these rules because touching the ball when it goes past the line of scrimmage could result in a muff. When in doubt, treat it like a normal punt that has been rolling on the ground. Teams often use the word “poison” for everyone to get away from the ball.
8. A11 Offense – Modern Day Offensive Innovation
There is an offense out there that will make you take a second look. It’s called the A11 offense. What is so special about it? It features 11 skill players on the field and no lineman.
How is this possible? It is all based on the quarterbacks alignment. There is a rule that states that when the quarterback is 7 or more yards behind the line of scrimmage, he is in a punting formation. Because he is considered a punter, it is assumed that they are in a punting formation, which means that any number can play Center, Guard or Tackle. Coaches have taken this to the next level and using this as their full-time formation. You can read more about the A-11 Offense here:
9. Clock Stops (until Chains are set) After a First Down In College and High School – Not In The NFL
In the NFL, College and High school, the clock stops when a player goes out of bounds, a pass is incomplete, change of possession, after a score, and when an injury occurs.
However! The clock also stops after a first down for a brief second in high school and college games. The clock stops temporarily while the chains are set. The referee then blows the whistle to wind the clock. This is important because teams can get a first down, get in a formation and spike the ball to stop the clock without wasting much time.
This is also why the last minute of a game is faster paced in the NFL and why timeout’s play an effective role. Driving 60 yards in college to win the game is a lot easier to do (from a clock management perspective) then in the in the NFL. That’s why we see more hail mary attempts in the last minute of the game than long field goal attempts.
10. Two States Play By College Rules
Massachusetts and Texas are the only two states in the country that play by NCAA rules. The rest of the country plays by local rules or by NFHS rules.
As of 2019, Massachusetts no longer plays by NCAA rules. They have chosen, as a state, to play by NFHS rules. Texas now remains the lone state that plays by NCAA rules.
Thanks for reading and we hope you learned a thing or two! What’s your favorite fact listed above? Let us know in the comments below!