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Safeties are themselves divided into free safeties FS and strong safeties SS. Safeties are the last line of defense, and are responsible for stopping deep passing plays as well as running plays. The special teams unit is responsible for all kicking plays. The special teams unit of the team in control of the ball will try and execute field goal FG attempts, punts and kickoffs , while the opposing team's unit will aim to block or return them.
Three positions are specific to the field goal and PAT point-after-touchdown unit: The long snapper's job is to snap the football to the holder, who will catch and position it for the placekicker.
There is not usually a holder on kickoffs, because the ball is kicked off of a tee; however, a holder may be used in certain situations, such as if wind is preventing the ball from remaining upright on the tee. The player on the receiving team who catches the ball is known as the kickoff returner KR.
The positions specific to punt plays are the punter P , long snapper, upback and gunner. The long snapper snaps the football directly to the punter, who then drops and kicks it before it hits the ground. Gunners line up split outside the line and race down the field, aiming to tackle the punt returner PR — the player that catches the punt.
Upbacks line up a short distance behind the line of scrimmage, providing additional protection to the punter. In American football, the winner is the team that has scored the most points at the end of the game.
There are multiple ways to score in a football game. The touchdown TD , worth six points, is the most valuable scoring play in American football. A touchdown is scored when a live ball is advanced into, caught in, or recovered in the end zone of the opposing team.
A PAT is most commonly attempted from the two- or three-yard line, depending on the level of play. If scored by a placekick or dropkick through the goal posts, it is worth one point, and is typically called the extra point. In such a case, a successful attempt is called the two-point conversion  and is worth two points. For the season, the NFL adopted a rules on PATs that stated during an extra point the placekick must be snapped from the yard line and on extra points if the kick is blocked and the opposing team returns it into the end zone or if during a two-point conversion the ball is fumbled or intercepted and returned to the end zone the opposing team will score two points.
No points are awarded on a failed extra point or two-point conversion attempt, although under a rare set of circumstances it is possible to score a safety, worth one point, if the defense takes the ball back into its own end zone and is downed there. A field goal FG , worth three points, is scored when the ball is placekicked or dropkicked through the uprights and over the crossbars of the defense's goalposts.
A safety is scored when the ball carrier is tackled in their own end zone. Safeties are worth two points, which are awarded to the defense. Lines marked along the ends and sides of the field are known respectively as the end lines and sidelines , and goal lines are marked 10 yards 9. Weighted pylons are placed on the inside corner of the intersections of the goal lines and end lines. White markings on the field identify the distance from the end zone.
Inbound lines, or hash marks , are short parallel lines that mark off 1 yard 0. Yard lines , which can run the width of the field, are marked every 5 yards 4. A one-yard-wide line is placed at each end of the field; this line is marked at the center of the two-yard line in professional play and at the three-yard line in college play.
Numerals that display the distance from the closest goal line in yards are placed on both sides of the field every ten yards. Goalposts are located at the center of the plane of each of the two end lines.
The crossbar of these posts is ten feet 3. Goal posts are padded at the base, and orange ribbons are normally placed at the tip of each upright. The football itself is an oval ball, similar to the balls used in rugby or Australian rules football. Football games last for a total of 60 minutes in professional and college play and are divided into two-halves of 30 minutes and four-quarters of 15 minutes.
The visiting team is allowed to call 'heads' or 'tails'; the winner of the toss is allowed to decide between choosing whether to receive or kick off the ball or choosing which goal they want to defend, but they can also defer their choice until the second half. The losing team, unless the winning team decides to defer, is allowed to choose the option the winning team did not select, and receives the option to receive, kick, or select a goal to defend to begin the second half.
Most teams choose to receive or defer, because choosing to kick the ball to start the game would allow the other team to choose which goal to defend. Games last longer than their defined length due to play stoppages — the average NFL game lasts slightly over three hours.
An operator is responsible for starting, stopping and operating the game clock based on the direction of the appropriate official. If the play clock expires before the ball has been snapped or free-kicked, a delay of game foul is called on the offense.
The play clock is set to 40 seconds in professional and college football and to 25 seconds in high school play or following certain administrative stoppages in the former levels of play. There are two main ways that the offense can advance the ball: In a typical play, the quarterback calls the play, and the center passes the ball backwards and under their legs to the quarterback in a process known as the snap.
The quarterback then either hands the ball off to a back, throws the ball or runs with it. The play ends when the player with the ball is tackled or goes out of bounds, or a pass hits the ground without a player having caught it. A forward pass can only be legally attempted if the passer is behind the line of scrimmage. The offense is given a series of four plays, known as downs.
If the offense advances ten or more yards in the four downs, they are awarded a new set of four downs. If they fail to advance ten yards, possession of the football is turned over to the defense.
In most situations, if the offense reaches their fourth down they will punt the ball to the other team, which forces them to begin their drive from further down the field; if they are in field goal range , they might also attempt to score a field goal.
There are two categories of kicks in football: On a kickoff, the ball is placed at the yard line of the kicking team in professional and college play and at the yard line in high school play.
The ball may be drop-kicked or place-kicked. If a place kick is chosen, the ball can be placed on the ground or on a tee, and a holder may be used in either case.
On a safety kick, the kicking team kicks the ball from their own yard line. They can punt, drop-kick or place-kick the ball, but a tee may not be used in professional play. Any member of the receiving team may catch or advance the ball, and the ball may be recovered by the kicking team once it has gone at least ten yards and has touched the ground or has been touched by any member of the receiving team. The three types of scrimmage kicks are place kicks, drop kicks, and punts.
Only place kicks and drop kicks can score points. If it is touched or recovered by the kicking team beyond this line, it becomes dead at the spot where it was touched. This prohibits the defense from blocking into or tackling the receiver, but the play ends as soon as the ball is caught and the ball may not be advanced. Officials are responsible for enforcing game rules and monitoring the clock. All officials carry a whistle and wear black-and-white striped shirts and black hats except for the referee, whose hat is white.
Each carries a weighted yellow flag that is thrown to the ground to signal that a foul has been called. An official who spots multiple fouls will throw their hat as a secondary signal. Another set of officials, the chain crew , are responsible for moving the chains.
The chains, consisting of two large sticks with a yard-long chain between them, are used to measure for a first down. The chain crew stays on the sidelines during the game, but if requested by the officials they will briefly bring the chains on to the field to measure.
A typical chain crew will have at least three people — two members of the chain crew will hold either of the two sticks, while a third will hold the down marker.
The down marker, a large stick with a dial on it, is flipped after each play to indicate the current down, and is typically moved to the approximate spot of the ball. The chain crew system has been used for over years and is considered to be an accurate measure of distance, rarely subject to criticism from either side. Football is a full-contact sport, and injuries are relatively common.
Most injuries occur during training sessions, particularly ones that involve contact between players. At a minimum players must wear a football helmet and a set of shoulder pads , but individual leagues may require additional padding such as thigh pads and guards, knee pads, chest protectors, and mouthguards.
The most common types of injuries are strains , sprains , bruises , fractures, dislocations , and concussions. Repeated concussions and possibly sub-concussive head impacts  can increase a person's risk in later life for CTE chronic traumatic encephalopathy and mental health issues such as dementia , Parkinson's disease , and depression.
A study performed by the VA Boston Healthcare System and Boston University's school of medicine found that tackle football before age 12 was correlated with earlier onset of symptoms of CTE, but not with symptom severity. More specifically, each year a player played tackle football under age 12 predicted earlier onset of cognitive, behavioral, and mood problems by an average of two and a half years.
College football is the third-most popular sport in the United States, behind professional baseball and professional football.
High school football is the most popular sport in the United States played by boys; over 1. The NFHS is the largest organization for high school football, with member associations in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. USA Football is the governing body for youth and amateur football,  and Pop Warner Little Scholars is the largest organization for youth football.
Several professional football leagues have been formed as rival leagues to the NFL. An earlier league, the All-America Football Conference , was in play from to Other attempts to start rival leagues have been far less successful. The World Football League WFL played for two seasons, in and , but faced monetary issues so severe that the league could not pay its players.
In its second and final season the WFL attempted to establish a stable credit rating, but the league disbanded before its second season could be completed. American football leagues exist throughout the world, but the game has yet to achieve the international success and popularity of baseball and basketball. The league's championship game is the Eurobowl. All of these countries rank far below the United States, which is dominant at the international level.
Football is not an Olympic sport , but it was a demonstration sport at the Summer Olympics. Large team sizes are an additional difficulty, due to the Olympics' set limit of 10, athletes and coaches. American football also has the issue of global visibility. Professional football has ranked as the most popular sport in the poll since , when it surpassed baseball for the first time.
In a study, the NCAA estimated there were around 1. American football also plays a significant role in American culture.
The day on which the Super Bowl is held is considered a de facto national holiday ,  and in parts of the country like Texas , the sport has been compared to a religion.
Merit is rewarded, not punished. Masculinity is celebrated, not feminized. People of various beliefs and backgrounds — a melting pot, if you will — must unify for a common goal for the team to be successful".
The safety of the sport has also sparked national controversy in American popular culture. It is often received as "overly aggressive", and defamiliarized in popular culture. Bennet Omalu , a neuropathologist who was the first to discover and publish findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy CTE.
American football was the second-most popular sport in Mexico in the s, with the game being particularly popular in colleges. American football is the fifth most popular sport in Mexico and the country has the highest rating of the NFL outside the United States. Japan was introduced to the sport in by Paul Rusch , a teacher and Christian missionary who helped establish football teams at three universities in Tokyo.
Play was halted during World War II, but began to grow in popularity again after the war. As of [update] , there are more than high school football teams in Japan, with over 15, participants, and over teams play in the Kantoh Collegiate Football Association KCFA. Europe is a major target for expansion of the game by football organizers.
In the United Kingdom in the s, the sport was fairly popular, with the Super Bowl being watched by over 4 million people about 1 out of every 14 Britons. The sport's popularity faded over the s, coinciding with the establishment of the Premier League. According to BBC America , there is a "social stigma" surrounding American football in the UK, with many Brits feeling the sport has no right to call itself 'football' due to the small emphasis on kicking.
Super Bowl viewership has also rebounded, with over 4. Darnay Holmes bound to get the respect he deserves in by Andrew Miller. Austin Joyner ready for breakout by Andrew Miller. Next 2 of 6 Prev. Saturday Blitz 4 months College Football: Assessing the implications of legalized sports betting.
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