Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

New rule protecting snappers has been flagged once, wrongly

Bengals Bears Football

A penalty flag is worn by an NFL official during the first half of an NFL football game between the Chicago Bears and the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)


This offseason the NFL passed a new rule protecting snappers on field goals and extra points by defining them as defenseless players who cannot be hit in the head or neck. So far, the only time that new rule has resulted in a penalty was a bad call.

In Week One, the Chargers were penalized for hitting the Texans’ long snapper, a penalty that the NFL later admitted was a bad call. Through Week Five, according to NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino, that’s still the only time that penalty has been called.

“We’ve had one call this year, which was not the right call, for contact to the head or neck of a defenseless player, the snapper,” Blandino said in an officiating video distributed to the media.

Blandino said the league office has seen two instances of players hitting defenseless long snappers, but both of those were missed by the officials on the field.

Still, Blandino said the league views the rule as making a positive impact because in the vast majority of cases, players are avoiding taking shots at opposing teams’ snappers. They just need the officials to get the calls right.