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Old Wed Apr 13, 2022, 12:51pm
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Is this a snap infraction? (NFL)

From a compilation on YouTube. I can't see anything illegal about it, just that the snapper goofed and the officials bailed the team out instead of allowing the busted play.

The snap seems to me to proceed exactly as it would have, with the ball leaving the snapper's hand where the quarterback would've had his hands, except the quarterback's hands weren't there. I don't see any hitch in the delivery, nor a failure to release the ball at the end of the movement.
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Old Thu Apr 14, 2022, 12:53pm
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All I would ask is what is the NFL rule? All that you stated might not be the only reason it is a foul at the NFL level. So without a reference to that, I have no idea. But also you cannot have a snap that planned fumble of some kind at the other levels. So maybe that is the philosophy of the NFL that is different than other levels.

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Old Thu Apr 14, 2022, 06:47pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRutledge View Post
All I would ask is what is the NFL rule? All that you stated might not be the only reason it is a foul at the NFL level. So without a reference to that, I have no idea. But also you cannot have a snap that planned fumble of some kind at the other levels. So maybe that is the philosophy of the NFL that is different than other levels.
It obviously wasn't a planned play, which in NCAA and Fed rules wouldn't kill the ball anyway, but be flagged live. But I'm pretty sure the NFL never legislated against that anyway.

NFL requirements for snapping the ball are the same as the other American codes. For a long time the NFL kept an old rule that forbade extension of hands by a back in position to receive the snap before the snap unless he went on to receive the snap -- which the NFL interpreted as a false start unless that player at least touched the snap. However, NFL got rid of that provision several years ago after it killed the play when the Dolphins snapped the ball accidentally past the QB, who had his hands under center but didn't get a touch on it. This clip is more recent than that rule change.

Somebody commenting on YouTube is telling me he sees a hesitation in the movement of the ball during that snap. They have an excellent slo-mo end zone view that looks like the motion was perfectly continuous. The snapper's hand can be seen briefly remaining in the vicinity after he loses the ball, but body English is not really going to affect the motion of the ball. I could see a problem if the ball had stayed on his hand for an extra bit, but it didn't seem to. The ball still had enough backward momentum after it hit his butt that it landed more than a yard behind it, which is additional evidence that it was still moving backward when it left his hand.

The only major codes that differ on the requirements for a legal snap are the Canadian ones, where the snap must go between the legs in a toes-to-heels direction, but the ball need not leave the snapper's possession immediately at the end of the motion.

Last edited by Robert Goodman; Thu Apr 14, 2022 at 06:58pm.
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Old Sat Apr 16, 2022, 03:22pm
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Again, what is the NFL rule? That is the only way we will get to the bottom of this. Saying that the rules are the same is not enough if you want a real answer. So what does the NFL rule actually say about snaps or even planned fumbles? Because if there is a rule or interpretation that talks about this more than just a hitch in the movement, then that might be your answer. I do not claim to know the NFL rule. And even the hitch in the snap is a judgment call. But I am wondering if there is more to the rule than what was stated. The player that was supposed to get the snap didn't. I am wondering if that has something to do with the call or the rule. But that is a guess.

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Old Sat Apr 16, 2022, 03:56pm
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Originally Posted by JRutledge View Post
Again, what is the NFL rule? That is the only way we will get to the bottom of this. Saying that the rules are the same is not enough if you want a real answer. So what does the NFL rule actually say about snaps or even planned fumbles? Because if there is a rule or interpretation that talks about this more than just a hitch in the movement, then that might be your answer. I do not claim to know the NFL rule. And even the hitch in the snap is a judgment call. But I am wondering if there is more to the rule than what was stated. The player that was supposed to get the snap didn't. I am wondering if that has something to do with the call or the rule. But that is a guess.

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Quote:
A snap is a backward pass*. The snap must be received by a player who is not on the line at the snap, unless the ball first strikes the ground. If the ball first strikes the ground, or is muffed by an eligible backfield receiver, or quarterback under center, it can be recovered and advanced by any player.
*NFL defines "pass" so as to include handing the ball. This was the old rule before NCAA defined "handing the ball" separately. Strangely enough, NFL too now has a definition of "handing the ball", but never excluded it from its definition of "pass". Go figure.

Furthermore:
Quote:
It is not necessary that the snap be between the snapper’s legs, but it must be one quick and continuous motion of the hand or hands of the snapper. The ball must leave or be taken from his hands during this motion.
So between the bits I've italicized in the passages above, they have exactly the same requirements as the other major American codes: that the ball be sent backwards in one quick, continuous motion of either or both hands, with the ball leaving his hand(s).

The only substantial difference I can see is that NFL's rule, by requiring only that the snap itself be a backwards pass (or handing), rather than having "backwards" as one of the conditions of the ball's motion (along with quick and continuous), could arguably be more permissive, if you could imagine some continuous snapping motion that results in a backward pass (or handing) but is not backwards throughout the motion. Hard to conceive, but I could see that as a byproduct of separating out the "backwards" requirement in a separate article. But still, if the snap is legal by NCAA or Fed standards, it must be by NFL's as well.
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Old Sun Apr 17, 2022, 09:39am
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I am asking is there an interpretation that specifies what could be illegal here. Not all rules are written the same or have the same issues. This was a snap that did not go to the QB or running back that was behind the center. So I am wondering (and I believe there is some provision) the snap has to go to certain people and if not it is a penalty. So far you have not given that distinction for this rule, you are only focusing on the continuation of the motion. I do not remember where to look up NFL rules, and in the end this is not that important as I am in basketball mode with camps going on now. But I would like to see if there is something else to this than just the motion of the snap. Usually, these guys do not get basic rules like this incorrect.

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Old Sun Apr 17, 2022, 10:24am
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Originally Posted by JRutledge View Post
I am asking is there an interpretation that specifies what could be illegal here. Not all rules are written the same or have the same issues. This was a snap that did not go to the QB or running back that was behind the center. So I am wondering (and I believe there is some provision) the snap has to go to certain people and if not it is a penalty.
The rule explicitly (needlessly IMO) covers the case where the ball strikes the ground, with or without being muffed by a receiver. And I already wrote upthread that NFL used to have a rule that made it a false start, not a snap infraction, if a back extended hands toward the snapper and did not eventually receive the snap, and that this clip was from after they famously removed that provision.

You want to look up the most recent official NFL playing rules, they're online via https://operations.nfl.com/the-rules/2021-nfl-rulebook You understood that that's where I was quoting from, right?

Meanwhile I Googled for other discussion. This one doesn't seem to help, just says what I did.
However, this one from 2020 at Refstripes.com is about the very play I linked to. The question about when the ball hit the snapper's butt is irrelevant. You can't snap the ball to another lineman, but you're allowed to touch your own body with the ball while snapping it. It's very common for a snap to touch the snapper's butt, especially if the QB is using the vertical dihedral (wrists together, palms up and down) form to receive the ball and the snapper is rotating its long axis to parallel to the line of scrimmage.

Last edited by Robert Goodman; Sun Apr 17, 2022 at 10:51am.
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Old Sun Apr 17, 2022, 12:30pm
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When I look at it again, he does not immediately release the ball. He is snapping it like someone is going to catch it. So it is certainly not fluid. And if you look other lineman, they move and the ball is not released. I was more looking at this from a procedural point of view at first by wondering if something other than just the snap was at issue. Because if he was releasing this like someone was under center, I would agree. But this was a shotgun formation, he should have released the ball sooner. But I am not an NFL official, so I am just guessing. They have a different level of scrutiny.

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Old Mon Apr 18, 2022, 08:10am
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Originally Posted by JRutledge View Post
When I look at it again, he does not immediately release the ball. He is snapping it like someone is going to catch it. So it is certainly not fluid. And if you look other lineman, they move and the ball is not released. I was more looking at this from a procedural point of view at first by wondering if something other than just the snap was at issue. Because if he was releasing this like someone was under center, I would agree. But this was a shotgun formation, he should have released the ball sooner. But I am not an NFL official, so I am just guessing. They have a different level of scrutiny.
That would be interesting if it's true. If you're snapping hand-to-hands, there is that instant where the snapper has slapped the ball into a quarterback's hands and both at once have at least one hand on it. That's why the snapper knew he'd goofed in this case, because he didn't feel that resistance. But then why wouldn't a hand-to-hands snap always be an infraction for that reason? Wouldn't that mean the motion of the ball ceases during the snap in a hand-to-hands snap, making its motion discontinuous?

Since nothing about the wording of the rule makes any provision for the motion of the ball being different depending on whether the snap is thrown thru the air or handed to the receiver, why would it be illegal for the snapper to move it exactly the same way for both? It just says, "The ball must leave or be taken from his hands during this motion." It even seems superfluous to say "or be taken from", since how could it be taken from his hands without leaving them? If the officials are to say the same motion that's continuous if someone's hands are there to receive the ball is discontinuous if the snapper just drops it, then that looks like it's just a get-out-of-jail-free card for them.

Anyway, the fact that the ball landed more than a yard behind his butt tells me it must have still been moving backward when it left the snapper's hand. It's not like the snapper reached so far under his butt that he could then throw the ball forward at his butt and have it bounce back; it got all that backward momentum from the snapping motion. The snapper relied on the quarterback's hands being there to stop it. So I don't think any stoppage of the motion could have occurred while it was still on the snapper's hand.

On top of that, about a decade ago, the NFL removed the old "false start" provision about extension of hands specifically so there wouldn't be a repeat of what happened in the Dolphins game where the QB had his hands under center, the snapper missed his hands completely, the ball wound up on the ground behind the quarterback, and the ball was ruled retroactively dead as a false start by the QB. But if the ball also remains dead under the circumstances of the play in the clip here, then nothing has changed, because if the QB's hands aren't where the ball winds up and don't at least touch it, it's not been put in play, and the rule change accomplished nothing!

Last edited by Robert Goodman; Mon Apr 18, 2022 at 08:14am.
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Old Mon Apr 18, 2022, 10:06am
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Again he did not release the ball as if he was doing a shotgun formation. I do not know what they were thinking, I was not on the field in that game or ever work an NFL game. Just stating why this might have been called. Did you go back and see when the game was and see if this was ever discussed by the NFL. Because otherwise, you are not going to get an answer that you will be satisfied with. IJS.

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Old Mon Apr 18, 2022, 04:55pm
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Originally Posted by JRutledge View Post
Again he did not release the ball as if he was doing a shotgun formation. I do not know what they were thinking, I was not on the field in that game or ever work an NFL game. Just stating why this might have been called. Did you go back and see when the game was and see if this was ever discussed by the NFL. Because otherwise, you are not going to get an answer that you will be satisfied with.
Don't people discuss stuff like this all the time here?

The only documentation I have from my searching so far was that it was a Monday night game, as you can see via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOaW-CpzXzo , the link supplied by Farooq in the Refstripes discussion I linked tom and that it was on or before Sept. 29, 2020.

The more I look at it, the cleaner it looks. He didn't "release the ball as if he was doing a shotgun formation", that we can all see, because the ball got higher and grazed his crotch. But I've seen bad snaps that've done that, and nobody in those cases ever suggested it was anything other than a bad but legal snap. Whatever, the ball still gets released!

I coach snapping, and high snaps are a symptom of a late release. One common fix for that is to make the snapper's technique such that his elbow or forearm hits his leg as a stop. In this case the snapper was deliberately releasing late, because he didn't realize he was to snap the ball 5 yards instead of to someone whose hands were in his crotch. But that mental mistake resulted in something materially no different from bad technique that a beginner might use when snapping the ball a good distance.
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Old Thu Apr 21, 2022, 01:28pm
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I haven't been able to find any online discussion which would elucidate further. Everyone else discussing it is, at best, at a loss to explain it. However, here's what I think must have happened, from what I can see at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOaW-CpzXzo :

Wing official #40, near side (line judge, I think, from what I believe to be "L" on the shirt) sees the snap motion start, loses sight of the ball as it passes between the snapper's thighs, and next sees the ball emerging late in the backfield. LJ assumes something funny has gone on with the snapper's motion of the ball that caused it to be late emerging, blows whistle (which he already had in his mouth with his left hand on it), and goes for the flag with his right hand. Actually the ball was late emerging only because it'd bounced off the snapper's crotch. R and U see nothing, but throw flags anyway, "confirmatorily". As LJ goes to talk to R, U starts to make a motion with his right hand to touch his left forearm; I've no idea what that means, and the director cuts away from that shot. FJ in the replay has both arms out and thumbs up as he looks in the direction of the ball.

R, who had approximately the view of the snap we get in the replay, knows the snap was legal but doesn't want to rule IW and give team A a free replay after their snapper so egregiously goofed. Therefore he upheld the snap infraction, costing them 5 yards but getting to replay the down, possibly a fair bargain.
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