Author Topic: A player that is neither a lineman nor a back -- is he an eligible reciever?  (Read 1583 times)

Offline ncwingman

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Another thread reminded me of a discussion involving an odd quirk in the rules.

A lineman, by definition, must be breaking the plane of the snapper's waist and have his shoulders approximately parallel to the end line. A back, by definition, must not be breaking the plane of the waist of the nearest player on the line.

The situation. A85 lines up as a slot receiver (ostensibly covered by A88 who is legally on the end of the line as a lineman) far enough forward that he is breaking the plane of the waist of the nearest lineman (A88 and A85 are not separated by a "blade of grass"), but then turns his body backwards so that he is clearly facing the QB (in shotgun formation). His shoulders are beyond perpendicular to the end line. In this stance, A85 is meets neither the definition of a lineman nor of a back.

The argument came in where Group A stated that he is not a lineman, therefore must be a back. If there were four other backs, you would have a flag for an illegal formation (with only 6 linemen). Group B countered that the rules for both illegal formation and pass eligibility only state that relevant players be "on the line" not specifically "linemen", and that a back must not break the plane of the waist, which A85 clearly does, so since he is not a back, he must be a lineman.

Is it possible that A85 could be the cause of an illegal formation (for not being the 7th lineman) and if he ran downfield in a pass route, also be an illegal man downfield?

Offline Rulesman

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He has lined up in no-mans land. He is neither a back nor a lineman. The answer to your question is yes, he could theoretically commit 2 fouls on your play.
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Offline ncwingman

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Let's switch A85 and A88 on the line, so A85 should be the "end" and A88 is the "slot".

Is A85, who is not a lineman by definition, covering up A88 on the line?

Offline CalhounLJ

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A player that is neither a lineman nor a back -- is he an eligible reciever?
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2017, 04:02:24 PM »
No. He’s not on the line.


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Offline KWH

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In the formation you described; Team A is in an ILLEGAL FORMATION as per Rule 7-2-3

The play you describe is depicted in CASEBOOK 7.2.3 SITUATION B

Offline VALJ

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Is it possible that A85 could be the cause of an illegal formation (for not being the 7th lineman) and if he ran downfield in a pass route, also be an illegal man downfield?

Not only that... if he catches the ball downfield, he's committed a THIRD foul on the same play for illegal touching.

Offline FLAHL

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Not only that... if he catches the ball downfield, he's committed a THIRD foul on the same play for illegal touching.

So, what options do you give to the captain of the offended team?  Or do you give him any options at all?

Offline ncwingman

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Last tweak to the scenario:

A88 A66 A68 A77 A62 A72 A86 are legally on the line of scrimmage as linemen (in that order). A7 is the QB in the shot gun, A25 and A28 are sidecars beside A7. A85 is lined up sideways "on the line" outside of A88.

At the snap, A85 moves into the backfield for an outlet screen pass. A88 runs a route down field. A7 completes a pass to A88.

Legal? This is where I think that despite A85 not being a lineman, he is still "on the line", breaking the plane of the waist of the player closest to him on the line, which covers up A88 making him ineligible.

The rules are intended so that offensive players are either linemen or backs. By trying to exploit a loophole that puts somebody in no-mans land for the purposes of deceiving their opponent is against the spirit of the rules and should be a foul.


Not only that... if he catches the ball downfield, he's committed a THIRD foul on the same play for illegal touching.

He doesn't even have to catch the ball, just touch it. Although, that reminds me of a play I had last year -- tight end was covered up and ran down field -- illegally, once the ball crossed the NZ. The pass was to the TE, who didn't catch the ball because it was short and bounced in front of him. If the QB had gotten a little more air on the ball, they would have lost a down along with the 5 yards.

Offline bigjohn

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The problem is no two set of officials call this the same way.

 "Last week we did this formation every play and it was never IF!!!!"

Offline CalhounLJ

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A player that is neither a lineman nor a back -- is he an eligible reciever?
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2017, 07:19:28 AM »
So, what options do you give to the captain of the offended team?  Or do you give him any options at all?
In this case I’m giving them the option that benefits them best. “Mr. Captain, we have illegal touching by the offense. If you take the penalty, we will back them up 5 yds and the down will count. You want the penalty, right?!”


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Offline Ralph Damren

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In this case Im giving them the option that benefits them best. Mr. Captain, we have illegal touching by the offense. If you take the penalty, we will back them up 5 yds and the down will count. You want the penalty, right?!
 Fully agree, forget the "lesser crimes" and move on the big (loss of down) one. This occurs whenever a covered receiver touches a pass downfield. We've got both Illegal touching & Ineligible receiver. Don't confuse matters, we know which penalty is best to accept.


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Offline VALJ

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So, what options do you give to the captain of the offended team?  Or do you give him any options at all?

Touching precedes possession according to the rule book, so by touching the ball, he has committed a loose ball foul.  Don't give the kid or the coach a chance to mess it up.  "You want the illegal touching and the five yards from the previous spot with the loss of down, right?"