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Football Defenseless Player Penalty

Football Defenseless Player Penalty

Football, at its foundation, is a contact sport. However, there are many rules and regulations to protect players from serious injury. Since the creation of the sport, the emphasis on player safety in football has increased immensely throughout all leagues, and penalties such as the defenseless player penalty have been much more common in present day football.

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Definition

A defenseless player penalty is when a player initiates unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture. The posture the foul is referring to can be a number of things. For example, it can be called on a player who just threw a pass, a receiver attempting to catch a pass but does not have a chance to become a runner, a punt returner not having the chance to become a runner, a player facing away from the play, among many other circumstances.

If a player hits them in the head or neck area or launches themselves into a defenseless opponent, it is almost automatically called. Across all leagues, it has become more popular of a penalty in order to ensure that the player’s safety is an essential part of the game.

Result

A defenseless player penalty is something that is important throughout all of the leagues of football. In the National Football League, a defenseless player penalty results in a loss of 15 yards and an automatic first down. This is the same rule that the NCAA has, and in both leagues, a hit of this caliber can even lead to a possible ejection. As for high school rules, it is only a 15-yard penalty. As for the CFL, their version of a defenseless player penalty is known as a rough play penalty, which results in a 25-yard penalty and a possible disqualification.

PenaltyNFLNCAAHigh SchoolCFL
Defenseless Player15 yards,Automatic First DownPossible Ejection15 yards, Automatic First Down, Possible Ejection15 YardsConstitutes as a “Rough Play” penalty. Results in a 25 yard penalty with a possible disqualification.

Penalty Signal

football penalty signal defenseless player penalty

A referee calls a personal foul when a defenseless player penalty is called. They cross their arms using their right wrist to come down to their left wrist, which is the universal call for a personal foul.

Examples

  • A quarterback is hit hard just after throwing a pass.
  • A player who is receiving a punt while in the air.
  • A player not who is clearly not involved in the play is tackled while looking the other way
  • A kicker is hit after kicking the ball
  • A ball carrier who’s already engaged with a defender with forward progress clearly stopped

Similar Penalties To Defenseless Player

FAQ

What is a defenseless player penalty in football?

In football, a defenseless player penalty occurs when one player initiates contact against an opponent who is in a defenseless position. A defenseless position can include a player who just threw a pass, a receiver who does not have a chance to become a runner, and a receiver attempting to catch a pass who does not have the chance to become a runner. This is up to the judgment of the referee to determine.

What is the penalty for hitting a defenseless player in football?

In football, the penalty for making contact with a defenseless player is typically a loss of 15 yards and an automatic first down. In the NFL and NCAA, these penalties also come with the possibility of ejecting the offending player for the severity of his hit. In the NFHS (high school), there is a 15 yard loss but no automatic first down. In the CFL, this is regarded as a “rough play” penalty and results in a loss of 25 yards.

Can you challenge a defenseless player penalty in football?

No, illegal contact of any kind is not challengeable, which means a defenseless player penalty cannot be challenged by a coach. Some rules are reviewable by video replay and can be potentially overturned, but defenseless player penalties are not one such rule. Once a referee has made their call, a loss of yardage and other punishments will be given out.

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