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Old Fri Nov 20, 2009, 11:55pm
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Question about a fair catch

I'm a basketball referee with a football question.

What is the rule if a player calls for a fair catch, but doesn't catch it until after it hits the ground. Is the punting team allowed to hit the return man?

High school rule needed.
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Old Sat Nov 21, 2009, 01:12am
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in Mass. we use ncaa rules for highschool. in your situation, we have two things: the fair catch signaler's protection ends once the ball touches the ground; and the ball is dead when he catches it.

as for whether the kicking team can hit him, if we have a catch, and a "normal" tackle simultaneous to (or immediately after) the whistle, then the kicking team has not fouled for contacting the signaler.

but the kicking team doesn't have carte blanche here. though kick-catch interference couldn't apply, the kicking team could still be flagged for a personal foul, if for example they delivered a blow to the head of the signaler as the whistle sounded.

Fed guys, is it the same for you?
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Old Sat Nov 21, 2009, 03:40am
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Sounds like the same to me!
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Old Sat Nov 21, 2009, 07:48am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave30 View Post
What is the rule if a player calls for a fair catch, but doesn't catch it until after it hits the ground. Is the punting team allowed to hit the return man?
Just a quibble: once the kick is grounded, the receiver cannot catch it, but only recover it.

As has been stated, the ball is dead once R recovers the grounded kick after a FC signal. Though tackling the receiver is not prohibited, there's no point, and only bad things can happen (such as a PF for unnecessary roughness).
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Old Sat Nov 21, 2009, 10:53am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave30 View Post
I'm a basketball referee with a football question.

What is the rule if a player calls for a fair catch, but doesn't catch it until after it hits the ground. Is the punting team allowed to hit the return man?

High school rule needed.
The short answer is, "it all depends".

The NFHS rule is 6-5. NFHS Case Book 6.5.2.Situation 2 offers some detail answering your question. Examples relating to "after R1 gives a valid FC signal he muffs the kick into the air; (b) K2 pushes R1 in an attempt to reach the ball (Ruling: The contact on R1 by K2 is legal because K may retain possession following the muff by R1.)

(c) K3 tackles R1 following the muff, preventing R1 from catching the kick (Ruling: it is a holding foul for K3 to tackle R1 following the muff, thus preventing him from reaching the ball.)

(d) R1 is blocked below the waist by K4 and K5 recovers (Ruling: The block by K4 is illegal).

The key is that under the NFHS rule code, the added protection provided by the Fair Catch signal applies, when the kick is caught.(NF: 6-5-6)
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Old Sat Nov 21, 2009, 12:34pm
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The simplest way to put it is that it's illegal for a player who should know the ball is dead to hit. Then it's just a judgment about whether the player should have known the ball was dead. A fair catch signal followed by a catch means the opponents definitely should know the ball is dead. A fair catch signal followed by a recovery...well, then you have to see it as to whether it's a late hit.
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