HomeMore Sports


American Football101ArticlesBowl GamesCoachingCollege FootballDefensive AlignmentsDrillsEquipmentFlag FootballHistoryHow ToKick TypesLeaguesLingoNFL FootballNFL TeamsOffensive FormationsOfficialsPass TypesPenaltiesCFL Football Penalties ReferenceCFL Football Penalties Reference By CategoryCollege Football Penalties ReferenceCollege Football Penalties Reference By CategoryFootball 10 Yard Penalties ListFootball 15 Yard Penalties ListFootball 5 Yard Penalties ListFootball Assisting The Runner PenaltyFootball Blocking a Kicking Team Player Out of Bounds PenaltyFootball Chop BlockFootball Clipping PenaltyFootball Defenseless Player PenaltyFootball Defensive Delay Of Game PenaltyFootball Defensive Holding PenaltyFootball Defensive Offside PenaltyFootball Defensive Pass Interference PenaltyFootball Delay Of Game PenaltyFootball Delay Of Kickoff PenaltyFootball Disconcerting Acts or Signals PenaltyFootball Disqualification PenaltyFootball Double Foul PenaltyFootball Encroachment PenaltyFootball Equipment Violation PenaltyFootball Excess Timeouts PenaltyFootball Excessive Celebration PenaltyFootball Facemask PenaltyFootball Fair Catch Interference PenaltyFootball False Start PenaltyFootball Forcibly Contacting a Player Out of Bounds PenaltyFootball Foul TypesFootball Goaltending PenaltyFootball Horse Collar PenaltyFootball Illegal Bat PenaltyFootball Illegal Blindside Block PenaltyFootball Illegal Block Above The Waist PenaltyFootball Illegal Block After Fair Catch Signal PenaltyFootball Illegal Block Below the Waist PenaltyFootball Illegal Block In The Back PenaltyFootball Illegal Contact PenaltyFootball Illegal Crackback PenaltyFootball Illegal Cut Block PenaltyFootball Illegal Double Team Block PenaltyFootball Illegal Formation PenaltyFootball Illegal Forward Handoff PenaltyFootball Illegal Forward Pass PenaltyFootball Illegal Kick Kicking Loose Ball PenaltyFootball Illegal Motion PenaltyFootball Illegal Peel Back PenaltyFootball Illegal Shift PenaltyFootball Illegal Snap PenaltyFootball Illegal Substitution PenaltyFootball Illegal Touching of a Forward Pass PenaltyFootball Illegal Touching of a Kick PenaltyFootball Illegal Use Of Hands PenaltyFootball Illegal Wedge PenaltyFootball Incomplete Forward Pass PenaltyFootball Ineligible Downfield Kick PenaltyFootball Ineligible Downfield Pass PenaltyFootball Ineligible Receiver Downfield PenaltyFootball Intentional Grounding PenaltyFootball Invalid Fair Catch Signal PenaltyFootball Kick Catch Interference PenaltyFootball Kickoff Out Of Bounds PenaltyFootball Leaping PenaltyFootball Leg Whip PenaltyFootball Leverage PenaltyFootball Low Block PenaltyFootball Neutral Zone Infraction PenaltyFootball Offensive Holding PenaltyFootball Offensive Offside PenaltyFootball Offensive Pass Interference PenaltyFootball Offside On Free Kick PenaltyFootball Offside PenaltyFootball Palpably Unfair Act PenaltyFootball Pass Interference PenaltyFootball Penalties ListFootball Personal Foul PenaltyFootball Player Out Of Bounds On Kick PenaltyFootball Removal of the Helmet PenaltyFootball Roughing The Holder PenaltyFootball Roughing The Kicker PenaltyFootball Roughing The Passer PenaltyFootball Running Into The Kicker PenaltyFootball Sideline Infraction PenaltyFootball Striking, Kicking, or Kneeing an Opponent PenaltyFootball Taunting PenaltyFootball Too Many Men On Field PenaltyFootball Tripping PenaltyFootball Unnecessary Physical Contact With Game Official PenaltyFootball Unnecessary Roughness PenaltyFootball Unsportsmanlike Conduct PenaltyFootball Use Of Helmet PenaltyHigh School Football Penalties ReferenceHigh School Football Penalties Reference By CategoryNFL Football Penalties By CategoryNFL Football Penalties ReferencePlayersPlaysPositionsQuestionsRulesScrimmage DownsSkillsStatisticsStrategyTeam StaffThe FieldTrophies
  1. Home
  2. American Football
  3. Football Unnecessary Physical Contact With Game Official Penalty

Football Unnecessary Physical Contact With Game Official Penalty

Football Unnecessary Physical Contact With Game Official Penalty

Unnecessary contact with a game official is an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty given when a player physically intimidates or makes unnecessary contact with an official. A referee cannot be shoved, struck, or needlessly touched by a player. It is a 15-yard penalty and usually results in an ejection of a player.


Unnecessary physical contact with a game official, sometimes known as striking an official, is an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that occurs when a player makes intentional or intimidating physical contact with an official. It calls for a 15-yard penalty, and the offending player is most often ejected from the game. In the NFL, a player will be fined for striking or physically intimidating a game official.

A referee can call this penalty any time they are subject to unnecessary physical contact before, during, or after a play. It's most commonly called after a play, when players are most likely to confront an official or one another. A referee cannot be shoved, swung at, or needlessly touched. During the coronavirus pandemic, players are also prohibited from approaching officials without a face covering.

Unnecessary contact with an official is not the same as accidentally running into them or knocking them down during an active play. Because officials have to be on the field, they may occasionally get caught in a player's path or in the middle of a tackle. Referees are trained to dodge out of the way, but in the instances where they can't players will not be penalized.

Any form of needless, intentional physical contact against a game official is prohibited. In 2016, Philadelphia Eagles player Earl Thomas received this penalty after hugging a referee in celebration of a touchdown (from the very ref he hugged!). It may have seemed harmless, but it still constitutes unnecessary contact. Players are wise to stay out of an official's way as they do their job.

The penalty against unnecessary physical contact with an official is in place to ensure order and sportsmanlike conduct in every game, and to protect officials from harm.


Unnecessary Physical Contact With Game Official15 Yards,Player disqualified 15 Yards,Player disqualified15 Yards10 Yards, Player disqualified10 Yards,Player disqualified

Penalty Signal

football penalty signal unsportsmanlike conduct

The unsportsmanlike conduct signal is used to give a penalty for unnecessary contact with a game official. A referee will stand in a T-pose, with both arms spread out straight out to the side.


  • Pushing a referee out of the way to confront another player.
  • Striking or swinging at a referee in a confrontation over a call.
  • Grabbing a referee to dance.
  • Poking an official in the chest in confrontation.

Similar Penalties To Unnecessary Physical Contact With Game Official