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Football Too Many Men On Field Penalty

Football Too Many Men On Field Penalty

Too many men on the field are enforced when one team has more than eleven players on the field. Having more than eleven players would give one team an unfair advantage and therefore is not allowed. The result is a five yard penalty assessed against whichever team committed the penalty.

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Definition

This penalty can be called on both the defense and the offense, though the penalties are called differently. The offensive penalty is known as too many men in the huddle and is called if the offense has 12 players in the huddle for over 3 seconds. 

This rule is in place because otherwise the offense could change their personnel prior to the snap, creating an unfair advantage where the defense has no time to react to the offense's personnel. For example, if an offense sends both a wide receiver and tight end into the huddle, making a huddle of 12 players, the offense then can decide whether to run or pass depending on the personnel the defense has on the field, and send whichever player they do not need off the field at the last second. This would leave the defense with no time to react or plan for the offense team’s personnel. This penalty would be called prior to snap because the play must stop before the snap due to the unfair average the defense has.

The penalty can also be enforced on the defense. However, unlike for the offensive penalty, the play will not be called dead. If at the time of the snap the defense has more than 11 players on the field, a flag will be thrown, but the play will continue on because the offense deserves a chance to complete a play that would be more beneficial than just the 5 yard penalty. This is called a “free play,” as there is no possible negative outcome for the offense in terms of turnovers. For example, if the defense has 12 men on the field when the offense snaps the ball, but during the play the offense actually completes a pass for a touchdown, they can decline the penalty and that touchdown will stand.

Result

At all levels of play and leagues within the United States, the penalty for too many men on the field is 5 yards, except in the Canadian Football League (CFL) where the penalty is increased to 10 yards.

PenaltyNFLNCAAHigh SchoolCFL
Too Many Men On Field5 Yards5 Yards5 Yards10 Yards

Penalty Signal

football penalty signal too many men on field

In order to make the signal for too many men on the field or too many men in the huddle, the referee will place both his hands flat on the top of his head.

Examples

  • The defensive team has 12 players on the field when the offensive team snaps the ball.
  • The offensive team stays in the huddle with 12 players for 3-5 seconds.

Similar Penalties To Too Many Men On Field

FAQ

How many players are on the field in football?

There are 11 players on each team on the field at all times in football. Thus, there are a total of 22 players on the field between both teams. This is consistent across all levels of play, including NCAA (collegiate) and NFHS (high school). If a team has more than 11 players on the field during a play, they will be called for a too many men on the field penalty.

What is a too many men on field penalty in football?

In football, the too many men on field penalty is called when any team has more than eleven players on the field. This penalty can be called on either the offense or the defense, but there are a few differences. Too many men on field penalty is called when twelve or more defensive players are present and the play stays alive. In comparison, two many men in the huddle penalty is called when twelve or more offensive players are present in the huddle for more than 3 seconds. In the second case, the play is dead.

What is the result of a too many men on field penalty?

In football, the result of a too many men on field penalty is usually a loss of 5 yards. For the NFL, the NCAA, and the NFHS (high school football), the penalty is a loss of 5 yards and a replay of the down if the foul is committed by the defense. For the CFL, the same result occurs except the yardage lost is 10 yards instead of 5.

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