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13 Flags and Penalties

Fouls – Crew Communication

Chapter 13. Flags and Penalties
Pg. 49

Getting the Explanation
Take whatever time is necessary to get
penalty enforcement right. Make sure you
have all the necessary information. Ask
questions if necessary. Errors in penalty
enforcement are a crew responsibility.
It is preferable to tell the Referee
what the reporting official saw, “No. 49
cut upfield too soon, instead of simply
relaying the foul and offender, such as,
“No. 49 offense, illegal motion.” It may
make sense to use both techniques
dependent upon the experience level of
the crewmate and the nature of the foul.
On certain fouls, it is critical that the
Referee be told the status of the ball
when the foul occurred or whether a
player involved was an eligible receiver.
Of course the guilty team must also be
identified. Referring to teams by jersey
color must be avoided. The pregame
conference should include a discussion
of how to report fouls.
Giving the Explanation
Do not consult with captains if the
choice is obvious or there is a double
foul, but on some occasions it will be
necessary to consult with the captain.
The Umpire should assist the Referee in
locating captains for penalty options and
stand with the Referee as he explains
the options. State the options briefly,
but correctly, clearly and courteously.
The Umpire must listen to the Referee’s
explanation to ensure the options are
properly offered. Umpires must have
good rules knowledge and may have to
assist a less experienced Referee with a
complicated enforcement situation.
Turn the captain toward his bench
so he can see what his coach wants
to do. Do not allow the captain to
make an incorrect choice if the coach
is communicating what he wants. On
complicated choices, it is permissible
to move toward sideline and allow the
coach to make the decision. On kicking
plays, a captain may not be on the field
so it’s best to talk directly with the coach.
The wing official on the sideline of the
penalized team must tell the coach the
number of the guilty player and explain
the foul in non-technical terms, e.g.,
“Your man in motion cut downfield too
soon,” instead of, “There was illegal
motion.” The other wing official need
only tell the coach the nature of the foul.
Inform the coach of the player’s number;
however, if the covering official didn’t get
the number, don’t guess or make one
up. Don’t give up other officiating duties
to report numbers to the coaches. If a
non-existent number is reported, crew
credibility is immediately destroyed.
Once the Referee determines the
penalty has been accepted or declined,
he must inform the other members of
the crew. If the penalty is accepted, the
Umpire must understand where to walk
from – the enforcement spot, how far to
walk and which direction to walk.
Informing the Coach
The head coach is entitled to the
following information for all fouls: the
type of foul, a brief description of the
act, the number or position of the
offending player and the enforcement.
For example, “Number 62 was called for
holding. He pulled down an opponent.
It’ll be 10 yards from the spot of the foul
and second down will be repeated.”