Football Officiating > General Discussion

Assisting the runner philosophy

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I have a discussion question for everyone: I never understood why we as officials don't want to call assisting the runner - I've always just been told not to call it.  From the coaches I've talked to, they want it called!  I've had multiple coaches ask me "how come you refs don't call assisting the runner?"  ...and I don't have a good answer for them.  Now, when there are obvious violations of this rule, I think we should be flagging this.  Thoughts?

I have called it and I always will call it if I see it.

We as officials have to see them physically pushing or pulling the runner. This does not include pushing the pile and this is what the coaches see a lot of times and they want us to call that.

I thoroughly agree with you and consider this a safety issue.  When you have a 160 pound back stopped by a 260 pound lineman, it can be very dangerous for a 270 pound offensive tackle, or another 160 pound back with a running start to use the runner as a battering ram to bash past the defense.

I'll admit to using the alternative approach, of considering progress stopped at the point the battering begins, which hopefully negates the purpose of the battering, for instances that are not as obvious or flagrant.

Because 99 times out of a hundred, what you see isn't meeting the Fed's own definition. It may be a POE but look at their own  commentary in the rule book:

--- Quote ---this act alone does not necessarily constitute a violation of Rule 9-1 unless an offensive player is in direct contact with the runner and deliberately attempting to move him forward.
--- End quote ---

It doesn't say "in direct contact with a whole gaggle of players" which is what normally happens.

Yes, "pushing the pile" doesn't fall under 9-1.  The assist has to be directly given to the runner.  If a member of the offense pushes, pulls, or lifts the runner in an effert to assist in their forward progress, then Assisting the Runner can be invoked.


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