Before The Actual Games Begin This Week, Let's Take A Quick Refresher Course On The Basic Rules Of Football

  • Jake O'Donnell

The NFL has somewhere around 370 “rules,” that is to say, guidelines that must be followed in order for the game to be playerdcorrectly. Few fans know them all, seeing as some are extremely obscure and circumstantial — and professional players often don’t understand or even know the technicalities that make American football look and function the way it does.

Remember when Donovan McNabb — in the prime of his career — let the clock run out during overtime because he was unaware that NFL games could end in a tie? Exactly.

We often ignore the fact that the NFL game is extremely complicated, with 22 moving parts on the field, governed by rather specific, some might call “ticky tacky” laws that are meant to keep contests from becoming Calcio Storico. We just watch for the big plays and yellow flags and complain when they happen against the team/fantasy players we’re pulling for.

Football fan want smash. Duh.

But to save you that embarrassing crash course in Week 1, when you inevitably ask a room full of drunk people “What technically constitutes a catch?”, we’ve found a simple guide to the formations, positions, and rules governing them.

(FYI: A nose tackle isn’t an illegal hands to the face penalty.)