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American Football

American football is the most popular sport in America and Canada. It is played on an rectangular-shaped field with goals at either end and a “goal post” on each side. The object of American football is to have possession of the football (a spherical object) while scoring points by either running with it, passing it, or kicking it through one of the uprights at each end of the field. Football is advanced by running while holding the ball in one hand or with both hands, or by throwing it to another player or having another player throw it to you. There are also words that are used in American football for a variety of situations like “touchdown”, “field goal”, and so on. American Football

 There are four major football leagues in the United States: National Football League (NFL), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), United Football League (UFL), and Women’s Football Alliance (WFA). The only significant professional American football league is the 32-team National Football League (NFL). Nearly half of U.S. television households watch its championship game, the Super Bowl, which is also broadcast in more than 150 other nations. The most common type of football is professional, but there is also amateur football. College football is the most popular sport in the U.S. Only a few schools, such as LSU, Alabama, Auburn, and Ohio State, have national football programs that are very successful and well-known. There are also many semi-pro teams in leagues where the players are paid to play but at a small enough salary. The NFL operates a developmental league, with the five clubs in Germany and one in the Netherlands that make up the NFL Europa. 

Almost all men and boys play organized football, while a few amateur and semi-pro have started women’s leagues in recent years. 

There is no formal team name or nickname for American football teams. They simply go by their professional name (e.g., Denver Broncos), school name (e.g. Penn State Nittany Lions, Colorado Buffaloes), or nickname (e.g., Florida State Seminoles). The teams are known as “units” which sometimes go by nicknames like the Eagles, Patriots, or Chiefs. It is played with eleven players on each side of the ball and two downs to gain 10 yards and then kick a goal. The points are usually gained by either kicking a goal or running the length of the field, sometimes called “running” the ball. 


The English team sports of association football (soccer) and rugby gave rise to the game known as American football. A soccer-like game with regulations took from the London Football Association was adopted by prestigious North-eastern institutions in the late 19th century. At universities like Rutgers, Princeton, Harvard, and McGill University, intercollegiate matches started to emerge. The Rutgers and Princeton University played the first game of football college on Nov 6, 1869 in New Brunswick. The preference of players and spectators shifted to rugby-style regulations. The rugby-style game was changed into the one that resembles American football today by Walter Camp, popularly regarded as the “Father of American Football.” Camp improved the game in two significant ways. A rule that compelled a side to surrender the ball after failing to move down the field a set number of yards was added, replacing the initial “scrummage.” Camp also created the quarterback position, the lines of scrimmage in 1880, and the current football scoring system in 1882.

Early games were contentious due to the high injury rate. Even President Theodore Roosevelt intervened to urge university teams to change the rules to lessen the brutality of the game. The National Collegiate Athletic Association was the name given to the group in charge of enforcing the rules in the future.

The public started to take an interest in professional football in large part due to the success of college football. 1920 saw the founding of the American Professional Football Association. Later, the National Football League would replace that league. In 1939, the first NFL game was broadcast on television. The first Super Bowl- between The champions of the NFL and the rival American Football League was played in 1967, and the two leagues merged in 1970. The popularity of American football eventually increased.


There are 11 players at a time on the field for each team. If there is time between plays, teams may, however, substitute any or all of their players. Due to the highly specialized responsibilities that players have, practically every one of an NFL team’s 46 active players will play in any given game. Teams are split into three distinct components as a result: the offence, the defense, and the special teams.

A player can either be offensive (offensive line, running back and receivers) or defensive (defensive line, line-backers and secondary). There are 18 positions on the field of play. If a player is out of the game, they must stay on the bench until they can be substituted. A player who is kicked out of the game has to leave (except for fights). If a team cannot make substitutions (for example, one player gets ejected), that player must be sent off.

  • The most important position on the field is quarterback (QB). The quarterback calls all plays and orders his teammates to do what he wants them to do. He receives the ball on most plays. 
  • The other important position is Running Backs (RB). The running back(s) line up directly behind the quarterback and specialize in rushing with the ball 
  • Wide receivers line up near the side-lines. They specialize in catching passes. 
  • Tight ends stand apart from the offensive line. They can either perform the role of an offensive lineman or a wide receiver who can catch passes (protect the QB or create spaces for runners).
  • Line-backers (LB) are defensive players who line up behind the defensive linemen. They are usually in charge of making tackles. Their main purpose is to stop or slow down the opposing team’s running backs and receivers.
  • Defensive linemen (DL), also called ends, line up on the ends of the defense. They are defensive players who line up in front of the line-backers. They are usually the last line of defense in case of a pass rush. The defensive linemen attempt to stop the opposing team’s running backs and receivers.
  • Defensive backs (DB) are defensive players who line up behind the offensive line. Their main purpose is to prevent the opposing team’s quarterback from receiving a pass, catching a ball thrown by his receiver, or scoring a touchdown by running with it.
  • Receivers (WR) line up on the offensive line. They must catch passes thrown by the quarterback. Sometimes they fake a pass and run with it. If one of the receivers is playing against a particular team, they are often called upon to block opposing players while running on the field.
  • Special Teams (Kicker, Punter, and Long Snapper) are those who do not play offensive or defensive positions but are special for certain reasons. They perform their special duties during the game. Every team belongs to a Division and Conference. A game can be either intra-conference or inter-conference, depending on the teams that are playing.

Advancing the ball

The six-tackle rule and play-the-ball in rugby league are analogous to advancing the ball in American football. The team that receives the ball first (the offence) gets four opportunities, or “downs,” to move the ball 10 yards towards their opponent’s end zone (the defense). The offence receives a first down or an additional set of four downs to gain 10 yards once it has gained 10 yards. The ball is always placed into play by a snap, with the exception of the start of halves and following scores. At any point, the ball may be pitched, flung, tossed sideways, or tossed backwards.

There are two ways for players to advance the ball:

  • By rushing, often known as sprinting with the ball. A handoff is when one ball-carrier passes the ball to another.
  • By forward passing (also known as passing the football) the ball to a teammate. 

The offence is only allowed to toss the ball forward once every play, and only from behind the line of scrimmage. At any point, the ball may be thrown, pitched, tossed sideways, or tossed backwards.

A down ends, and the ball becomes dead :

  • when the members of the opposing team knock the ball-carrier to the ground 
  • when a forward pass is intercepted before it touches the ground or flies out of bounds. 
  • The ball or the man carrying it goes outside the field’s boundaries 
  • Or a team scores a point

Change of possession

The offensive keeps possession of the ball until one of the following happens:

  • The team doesn’t get a first down, which means they don’t advance the ball at least 10 yards in four downs and the defensive team takes over the ball from the spot. This kind of shift in possession is referred to as a turnover on downs.
  • When an offensive touchdown or field goal is scored the scoring team kicks the ball to the opposing team.
  • When the defense receives a punt from the offence (Punting is the act of dropping the ball and kicking it before it touches the ground). When the offensive team determines that it is too far from the opposing team’s goal posts to attempt a field goal and does not want to take the chance of giving up the ball to them at their current location on the field (through a failed attempt to make a first down), punts are almost always made on fourth down.
  • When a forward pass is caught by a defender and when a defensive player picks up the ball after an offensive player fumbles it.
  • When the offensive team fails to make a field goal, the defensive team receives the ball where the previous play was initiated. 

Duration –  A modern football game is played in four quarters of 15 minutes each. The clock stops when the ball is dead or the referee has blown his whistle. After four quarters of an NFL game, if the score is still tied, a fifth quarter of up to 15 minutes is played. The first team to score in overtime of an NFL game wins, even if the opposing team does not have a possession; this is known as sudden death. If no side scores in overtime of an NFL regular-season game, the result is a draw. Additional overtime sessions are played in an NFL playoff game as necessary to decide the winner.

Scoring, Kick Offs and Free Kicks

6 points are awarded for a touchdown (TD). A player scores when he carries the ball into the opponent’s end zone or receives a pass there. The scoring team attempts a conversion following a touchdown which is also analogous to the conversion in rugby. The other team’s 3-yard line is where the ball is placed (the 2-yard line in the NFL). The team can try to kick it through the goal posts and over the crossbar to score one extra point or point after. The team can try to kick it through the goal posts and over the crossbar to score a field goal for one point (also known as an extra point or point after touchdown (PAT), or run or pass it into the end zone to score two points (a two-point conversion).

A field goal (FG) is a kick that goes through the goal posts and over the crossbar to score three points. When a teammate holds the ball vertically against the ground, they can placekick the field goal or drop-kick it (extremely uncommon in the modern game). When the ball is close to the opponent’s goal, a field goal attempt is typically made on fourth down rather than a punt. When the ball is near the opponent’s goal line or when there is little to no time remaining to score by other means, a field goal is typically attempted on fourth down rather than a punt. Two points are awarded for a safety. If the offensive player with the ball is tackled while forced back into his own end zone, fumbles the ball out of the end zone, or intentionally grounds himself in the end zone, the defense has scored a safety. 

A kick-off signals the start of each half. After scoring touchdowns and field goals, teams also kick off. In the NFL and NCAA football, the kicking tee is constructed at the team’s 30-yard line and is used to kick the ball. The kick returner for the opposing team tries to catch the ball and move it as far as they can. The offensive drive, or sequence of offensive plays, will start where he is stopped. The receiving team begins its offensive drive from its own 20-yard line if the kick returner catches the ball in his own end zone. He can either run with the ball or elect for a touchback by kneeling in the end zone.

 Additionally, if the kick leaves the end zone, it results in a touchback. After safety, the side that surrendered the two points must punt or place kick the ball from its own 20-yard line into play.

Physicality and Equipments

American football is one contact sport. The defense must tackle the guy carrying the ball by taking him down in order to prevent the offence from moving the ball. Defensive players must therefore, within the confines of the rules and regulations, make some sort of physical contact with the ball carrier in order to knock him to the ground. Tacklers are not permitted to punch, kick, or trip the runner. Additionally, they are not permitted to touch the runner’s helmet’s face mask or lead a tackle with their own helmet. The majority of other types of tackling are acceptable despite these and other restrictions on excessive roughness. They also have enough of room for blockers and defenders seeking to evade them to try to push their opponents aside. Defendants frequently collide with quarterbacks as they rush at full speed from.

For their safety concerns, Players are required to wear specialized protection gear. The basic equipment consists of a football, a helmet (to protect the player’s head), shoulder pads (to protect the shoulders), thigh pads (to protect the thighs), and knee pads (to protect the knees). To play American football you need many other things like a football field, shoulder pads, helmets for protection, and so on. Since their introduction decades ago, these protective pads have been enhanced to assist reduce athletes’ long-term injuries. The amount of violence in the game has increased as an unexpected outcome of all the safety equipment. With little risk of damage, players can now launch themselves at one another at great speeds. Unfortunately, when injuries do occur, they frequently end seasons or careers and can even be fatal. With less padding in prior years, tackling more closely mirrored rugby tackles, with less violent impacts and injuries.

American football is played with an egg shaped ball that has long, narrow ends (slightly larger than a soccer ball). It is made of leather or synthetic materials and can be inflated to air pressure of 12 ½ to 13 ½ pounds per square inch (psi).The ball is put into play at the start of the game by a coin toss and kick-off.

 At other times during the game, play is started by a snap. The team that starts with the football has four downs (arranged in a line parallel to the goal line) to advance the ball ten yards or more towards their opponent’s end zone. If they do so, they receive one point for each down it took them to get there (a “touchdown”).


Penalties are imposed for breaking the rules. Most penalties cause the football to be moved, usually either away from the defense’s endzone in the case of an offensive penalty or towards it in the case of a defensive penalty. Some defensive mistakes result in an automatic first down for the offence. Additionally, the attacking team receives a first down as usual if a penalty gives them enough yardage to do so. A yellow flag is thrown by a referee near the area of the foul to indicate a penalty during a play; subsequent penalties are indicated by the same official by the throwing of a beanbag or his hat. 

Some of the most common penalties include:

  • False start: When setting up for the snap, an offensive player moves in an
  •  unsportsmanlike manner.
  • Offside: When a defensive player begins a play on the wrong side of the ball.
  • Holding: Forcibly grabbing or yanking a rival who isn’t the ball carrier.
  • Interference with a pass is when an opponent is illegally touched in order to keep him from catching a forward pass.
  • Inability to start a new play once a set amount of time has passed since the conclusion of the previous one.
  • Pushing a member of the other team in the back by an attacking player is known as an illegal block. 


In particular, these core ideas are modified in touch and flag football, which serve as non-contact or limited-contact alternatives to the often violent nature of traditional American football. In touch football and flag football, tackling is not allowed. When an attacking player is tagged or has a flag removed from their body, the defense “tackles” that player. The majority of the time, these two types are used in informal settings like intramural or youth games. In varsity high school football, intercollegiate football, and professional football, the conventional tackling rules are always adhered to.

American Football GroundField

A football field is 100 yards long (100 metres) from goal line to goal line and 160 feet (60 metres) wide from side-line to side-line. 

American football is played on a grass field, 110 to 120 yards (100 to 110 metres) long with the ends of the field being 20 yards (18.3 m) apart. The width of the field is 53 1/3 yards (48.8 m), with one end zone being for the offensive team and one for the defensive team. The field is marked off in yards, but the end zones must be at least 10 yards deep. The goalposts must be H-shaped and up to a maximum of 15 feet (4.6 m) apart.

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