Canadian football

Canadian football (French: football canadien) is a sport played in Canada in which two teams of 12 players each compete for territorial control of a field of play 110 yards (101 m) long and 65 yards (59 m) wide attempting to advance a pointed oval-shaped ball into the opposing team's scoring area (end zone).

In Canada, the term "football" may refer to Canadian football and American football collectively, or to either sport specifically, depending on context. The two sports have shared origins and are closely related but have some key differences.

Rugby football in Canada originated in the early 1860s,[1] and over time, the game known as Canadian football developed. Both the Canadian Football League (CFL), the sport's top professional league, and Football Canada, the governing body for amateur play, trace their roots to 1880 and the founding of the Canadian Rugby Football Union.

The CFL is the most popular and only major professional Canadian football league. Its championship game, the Grey Cup, is one of Canada's largest sporting events, attracting a broad television audience. In 2009, about 40% of Canada's population watched part of the game;[2] in 2014, it was closer to 33%, peaking at 5.1 million viewers in the fourth quarter.[3]

Canadian football is also played at the bantam, high school, junior, collegiate, and semi-professional levels: the Canadian Junior Football League, formed May 8, 1974, and Quebec Junior Football League are leagues for players aged 18–22, many post-secondary institutions compete in U Sports football for the Vanier Cup, and senior leagues such as the Alberta Football League have grown in popularity in recent years. Great achievements in Canadian football are enshrined in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame located in Hamilton, Ontario.

Other organizations across Canada perform senior league Canadian football during the summer.

Canadian football
JoffreyReynolds
The Calgary Stampeders (at right, in red) versus the Montreal Alouettes.
Highest governing bodyIFAF (used for representing country & same format from Gridiron Football Rules)
Canadian Football League (professional)
Football Canada (amateur)
NicknamesFootball, Gridiron football
Characteristics
ContactFull-contact
Team members12 at a time
TypeOutdoor
EquipmentFootball
GlossaryGlossary of Canadian football
Presence
OlympicNo
Canadian football field
Diagram of a Canadian football field

History

The first documented football match was a practice game played on November 9, 1861, at University College, University of Toronto (approximately 400 yards or 370 metres west of Queen's Park). One of the participants in the game involving University of Toronto students was Sir William Mulock, later Chancellor of the school.[1] A football club was formed at the university soon afterward, although its rules of play at this stage are unclear.[4]

The first written account of a game played was on October 15, 1862, on the Montreal Cricket Grounds. It was between the First Battalion Grenadier Guards and the Second Battalion Scots Fusilier Guards resulting in a win by the Grenadier Guards 3 goals, 2 rouges to nothing. In 1864, at Trinity College, Toronto, F. Barlow Cumberland, Frederick A. Bethune, and Christopher Gwynn, one of the founders of Milton, Massachusetts, devised rules based on rugby football.[1] The game gradually gained a following, with the Hamilton Football Club formed on November 3, 1869, Montreal formed a team April 8, 1872, Toronto was formed on October 4, 1873, and the Ottawa FBC on September 20, 1876. (Of those clubs, only the Toronto club is still in continuous operation today.)

This rugby-football soon became popular at Montreal's McGill University. McGill challenged Harvard University to a game, in 1874 using a hybrid game of English rugby devised by the University of McGill.[5][6]

The first attempt to establish a proper governing body and adopted the current set of Rugby rules was the Foot Ball Association of Canada, organized on March 24, 1873 followed by the Canadian Rugby Football Union (CRFU) founded June 12, 1880,[7] which included teams from Ontario and Quebec. Later both the Ontario and Quebec Rugby Football Union (ORFU and QRFU) were formed (January 1883), and then the Interprovincial (1907) and Western Interprovincial Football Union (1936) (IRFU and WIFU).[8] The CRFU reorganized into an umbrella organization forming the Canadian Rugby Union (CRU) in 1891.[9] The original forerunners to the current Canadian Football League, was established in 1956 when the IRFU and WIFU formed an umbrella organization, The Canadian Football Council (CFC).[10] In 1958 the CFC left the CRFU to become the CFL.

The Burnside rules closely resembling American football (which are similar rules developed by Walter Camp for that sport) that were incorporated in 1903 by the ORFU, was an effort to distinguish it from a more rugby-oriented game. The Burnside Rules had teams reduced to 12 men per side, introduced the Snap-Back system, required the offensive team to gain 10 yards on three downs, eliminated the Throw-In from the sidelines, allowed only six men on the line, stated that all goals by kicking were to be worth two points and the opposition was to line up 10 yards from the defenders on all kicks. The rules were an attempt to standardize the rules throughout the country. The CIRFU, QRFU and CRU refused to adopt the new rules at first.[11] Forward passes were not allowed in the Canadian game until 1929, and touchdowns, which had been five points, were increased to six points in 1956, in both cases several decades after the Americans had adopted the same changes. The primary differences between the Canadian and American games stem from rule changes that the American side of the border adopted but the Canadian side did not (originally, both sides had three downs, goal posts on the goal lines and unlimited forward motion, but the American side modified these rules and the Canadians did not). The Canadian field width was one rule that was not based on American rules, as the Canadian game was played in wider fields and stadiums that were not as narrow as the American stadiums.

The Grey Cup was established in 1909 after being donated by Albert Grey, 4th Earl Grey, The Governor General of Canada as the championship of teams under the CRU for the Rugby Football Championship of Canada.[11] Initially an amateur competition, it eventually became dominated by professional teams in the 1940s and early 1950s. The Ontario Rugby Football Union, the last amateur organization to compete for the trophy, withdrew from competition in 1954. The move ushered in the modern era of Canadian professional football, culminating in the formation of the present-day Canadian Football League in 1958.

Canadian football has mostly been confined to Canada, with the United States being the only other country to have hosted high-level Canadian football games. The CFL's controversial "South Division" as it would come to be officially known attempted to put CFL teams in the United States playing under Canadian rules between 1992 and 1995. The move was aborted after three years; the Baltimore Stallions were the most successful of the numerous Americans teams to play in the CFL, winning the 83rd Grey Cup. Continuing financial losses, a lack of proper Canadian football venues, a pervasive belief that the American teams were simply pawns to provide the struggling Canadian teams with expansion fee revenue, and the return of the NFL to Baltimore prompted the end of Canadian football on the American side of the border.

The CFL hosted the Touchdown Atlantic regular season game at Nova Scotia in 2005 and New Brunswick in 2010, 2011 and 2013. In 2013, Newfoundland and Labrador became the last province to establish football at the minor league level, with teams playing on the Avalon Peninsula and in Labrador City. The province however has yet to host a college or CFL game. Prince Edward Island, the smallest of the provinces, has also never hosted a CFL game.

Ottawa and Hamilton Tigers football game 5

A game between the Hamilton Tigers and the Ottawa Rough Riders, 1910

Football game between the 4th Canadian Armoured Division Atoms and the 1st Canadian Army Red and Blue Bombers

A game between the 4th Canadian Armoured Division Atoms and First Canadian Army Red and Blue Bombers, in Utrecht, Netherlands, October 1945

Statue touchdown cfhof

Touchdown monument outside the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton, Ontario

League play

CFL footballs and helmet
Footballs and a helmet at a Calgary Stampeders (CFL) team practice

Canadian football is played at several levels in Canada; the top league is the professional nine-team Canadian Football League (CFL). The CFL regular season begins in June, and playoffs for the Grey Cup are completed by mid-November. In cities with outdoor stadiums such as Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Regina, low temperatures and icy field conditions can seriously affect the outcome of a game.

Amateur football is governed by Football Canada. At the university level, 26 teams play in four conferences under the auspices of U Sports (known from 2001–2016 as Canadian Interuniversity Sport); the U Sports champion is awarded the Vanier Cup. Junior football is played by many after high school before joining the university ranks. There are 20 junior teams in three divisions in the Canadian Junior Football League competing for the Canadian Bowl. The Quebec Junior Football League includes teams from Ontario and Quebec who battle for the Manson Cup.

Semi-professional leagues have grown in popularity in recent years, with the Alberta Football League becoming especially popular. The Northern Football Conference formed in Ontario in 1954 has also surged in popularity for former college players who do not continue to professional football. The Ontario champion plays against the Alberta champion for the "National Championship". The Canadian Major Football League is the governing body for the semi-professional game.

Women's football has gained attention in recent years in Canada. The first Canadian women's league to begin operations was the Maritime Women's Football League in 2004. The largest women's league is the Western Women's Canadian Football League.

The field

Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, August 2005
Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium, in 2005. A Canadian Football League venue.

The Canadian football field is 150 yards (137 m) long and 65 yards (59 m) wide, within which the goal areas are 20 yards (18 m) deep, and the goal lines are 110 yards (101 m) apart. Weighted pylons are placed on the inside corner of the intersections of the goal lines and end lines. Including the endzones, the total area of the field is 87,750 square feet (8,152 m2).

At each goal line is a set of 40-foot-high (12 m) goalposts, which consist of two uprights joined by an 18 12-foot-long (5.6 m) crossbar which is 10 feet (3 m) above the goal line. The goalposts may be H-shaped (both posts fixed in the ground) although in the higher-calibre competitions the tuning-fork design (supported by a single curved post behind the goal line, so that each post starts 10 feet (3 m) above the ground) is preferred.

The sides of the field are marked by white sidelines, the goal line is marked in white or yellow, and white lines are drawn laterally across the field every 5 yards (4.6 m) from the goal line. These lateral lines are called "yard lines" and often marked with the distance in yards from and an arrow pointed toward the nearest goal line. In previous decades, arrows were not used and every yard line (in both multiples of 5 and 10) was usually marked with the distance to the goal line, including the goal line itself which was marked with either a "0" or "00"; in most stadiums today, only the yard markers in multiples of 10 are marked with numbers, with the goal line sometimes being marked with a "G". The centre (55-yard) line usually is marked with a "C" (or, more rarely, with a "55"). "Hash marks" are painted in white, parallel to the yardage lines, at 1 yard (0.9 m) intervals, 24 yards (21.9 m) from the sidelines.

On fields that have a surrounding running track, such as Molson Stadium and many universities, the end zones are often cut off in the corners to accommodate the track. Until 1986,[12] the end zones were 25 yards (23 m) deep, giving the field an overall length of 160 yards (150 m), and a correspondingly larger cutoff could be required at the corners. The first field to feature the shorter 20-yard endzones was Vancouver's BC Place (home of the BC Lions), which opened in 1983. This was particularly common among U.S.-based teams during the CFL's American expansion, where few American stadiums were able to accommodate the much longer and noticeably wider CFL field. The end zones in Toronto's BMO Field are only 18 yards instead of 20 yards.

Play of the game

Teams advance across the field through the execution of quick, distinct plays, which involve the possession of a brown, prolate spheroid ball with ends tapered to a point. The ball has two one-inch-wide white stripes.

Start of play

At the beginning of a match, an official tosses a coin and allows the captain of the visiting team call heads or tails. The captain of the team winning the coin toss is given the option of having first choice, or of deferring first choice to the other captain. The captain making first choice may either choose a) to kick off or receive the kick at the beginning of the half, or b) which direction of the field to play in. The remaining choice is given to the opposing captain. Before the resumption of play in the second half, the captain that did not have first choice in the first half is given first choice. Teams usually choose to defer, so it is typical for the team that wins the coin toss to kick to begin the first half and receive to begin the second.

Play begins at the start of each half with one team place-kicking the ball from its own 35-yard line. Both teams then attempt to catch the ball. The player who recovers the ball may run while holding the ball, or lateral throw the ball to a teammate.

Stoppage of play

Play stops when the ball carrier's knee, elbow, or any other body part aside from the feet and hands, is forced to the ground (a tackle); when a forward pass is not caught on the fly (during a scrimmage); when a touchdown (see below) or a field goal is scored; when the ball leaves the playing area by any means (being carried, thrown, or fumbled out of bounds); or when the ball carrier is in a standing position but can no longer move forwards (called forward progress). If no score has been made, the next play starts from scrimmage.

Scrimmage

Before scrimmage, an official places the ball at the spot it was at the stop of clock, but no nearer than 24 yards from the sideline or 1 yard from the goal line. The line parallel to the goal line passing through the ball (line from sideline to sideline for the length of the ball) is referred to as the line of scrimmage. This line is similar to "no-man's land"; players must stay on their respective sides of this line until the play has begun again. For a scrimmage to be valid the team in possession of the football must have seven players, excluding the quarterback, within one yard of the line of scrimmage. The defending team must stay a yard or more back from the line of scrimmage.

Anthony Calvillo game action, 93rd Grey Cup
Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo looks down field with the ball during the 93rd Grey Cup game at BC Place.

On the field at the beginning of a play are two teams of 12 (unlike 11 in American football). The team in possession of the ball is the offence and the team defending is referred to as the defence. Play begins with a backwards pass through the legs (the snap) by a member of the offensive team, to another member of the offensive team. This is usually the quarterback or punter, but a "direct snap" to a running back is also not uncommon. If the quarterback or punter receives the ball, he may then do any of the following:

  • run with the ball, attempting to run farther down field (gaining yardage). The ball-carrier may run in any direction he sees fit (including backwards).
  • drop-kick the ball, dropping it onto the ground and kicking it on the bounce. (This play is exceedingly rare in both Canadian and American football.)
  • pass the ball laterally or backwards to a teammate. This play is known as a lateral, and may come at any time on the play. A pass which has any amount of forward momentum is a forward pass (see below); forward passes are subject to many restrictions which do not apply to laterals.
  • hand-off—hand the ball off to a teammate, typically a halfback or the fullback.
  • punt the ball; dropping it in the air and kicking it before it touches the ground. When the ball is punted, only opposing players (the receiving team), the kicker, and anyone behind the kicker when he punted the ball are able to touch the ball, or even go within five yards of the ball until it is touched by an eligible player (the no-yards rule, which is applied to all kicking plays).
  • place the ball on the ground for a place kick
  • throw a forward pass, where the ball is thrown to a receiver located farther down field (closer to the opponent's goal) than the thrower is. Forward passes are subject to the following restrictions:
    • They must be made from behind the line of scrimmage
    • Only one forward pass may be made on a play
    • The pass must be made in the direction of an eligible receiver or pass 10 yards after the line of scrimmage

Each play constitutes a down. The offence must advance the ball at least ten yards towards the opponents' goal line within three downs or forfeit the ball to their opponents. Once ten yards have been gained the offence gains a new set of three downs (rather than the four downs given in American football). Downs do not accumulate. If the offensive team completes 10 yards on their first play, they lose the other two downs and are granted another set of three. If a team fails to gain ten yards in two downs they usually punt the ball on third down or try to kick a field goal (see below), depending on their position on the field. The team may, however use its third down in an attempt to advance the ball and gain a cumulative 10 yards.

Change in possession

The ball changes possession in the following instances:

  • If the offence scores a field goal, the scored-against team can either scrimmage from its 35-yard line or have the scoring team kickoff from its 35-yard line.[13]
  • If a team scores a touchdown, the scoring team must kickoff from their own 35-yard line.
  • If the defence scores on a safety (bringing the ball down in the offence's own end zone), they have the right to claim possession.
  • If one team kicks the ball; the other team has the right to recover the ball and attempt a return. If a kicked ball goes out of bounds, or the kicking team scores a single or field goal as a result of the kick, the other team likewise gets possession.
  • If the offence fails to make ten yards in three plays, the defence takes over on downs.
  • If the offence attempts a forward pass and it is intercepted by the defence; the defence takes possession immediately (and may try to advance the ball on the play). Note that incomplete forward passes (those which go out of bounds, or which touch the ground without being first cleanly caught by a player) result in the end of the play, and are not returnable by either team.
  • If the offence fumbles (a ball carrier drops the football, or has it dislodged by an opponent, or if the intended player fails to catch a lateral pass or a snap from centre, or a kick attempt is blocked by an opponent), the ball may be recovered (and advanced) by either team. If a fumbled ball goes out of bounds, the team whose player last touched it is awarded possession at the spot where it went out of bounds. A fumble by the offence in their own end zone, which goes out of bounds, results in a safety.
  • When the first half ends, the team which kicked to start the first half will receive a kickoff to start the second half.
  • After the three-minute warning near the end of each half, the offence can lose possession for a time count violation (failure to legally put the ball into play within the 20-second duration of the play clock). However, this can only occur in one very specific scenario:[14]
    • The offence committed a time count violation on its last attempted scrimmage play.
    • This prior violation took place on third down.
    • The referee deemed said violation to be deliberate, and warned the offence that it had to legally place the ball into play within the 20-second clock or lose possession. Such a loss of possession is statistically treated as the defence taking over on downs.

Rules of contact

There are many rules to contact in this type of football. First, the only player on the field who may be legally tackled is the player currently in possession of the football (the ball carrier). Second, a receiver, that is to say, an offensive player sent down the field to receive a pass, may not be interfered with (have his motion impeded, be blocked, etc.) unless he is within one yard of the line of scrimmage (instead of 5 yards (4.6 m) in American football). Any player may block another player's passage, so long as he does not hold or trip the player he intends to block. The kicker may not be contacted after the kick but before his kicking leg returns to the ground (this rule is not enforced upon a player who has blocked a kick), and the quarterback, having already thrown the ball, may not be hit or tackled.

Infractions and penalties

Infractions of the rules are punished with penalties, typically a loss of yardage of 5, 10 or 15 yards against the penalized team. Minor violations such as offside (a player from either side encroaching into scrimmage zone before the play starts) are penalized five yards, more serious penalties (such as holding) are penalized 10 yards, and severe violations of the rules (such as face-masking) are typically penalized 15 yards. Depending on the penalty, the penalty yardage may be assessed from the original line of scrimmage, from where the violation occurred (for example, for a pass interference infraction), or from where the ball ended after the play. Penalties on the offence may, or may not, result in a loss of down; penalties on the defence may result in a first down being automatically awarded to the offence. For particularly severe conduct, the game official(s) may eject players (ejected players may be substituted for), or in exceptional cases, declare the game over and award victory to one side or the other. Penalties do not affect the yard line which the offence must reach to gain a first down (unless the penalty results in a first down being awarded); if a penalty against the defence results in the first down yardage being attained, then the offence is awarded a first down.

If the defence is penalized on a two-point convert attempt and the offence chooses to attempt the play again, the offence must attempt another two-point convert; it cannot change to a one-point attempt. Conversely, the offence can attempt a two-point convert following a defensive penalty on a one-point attempt.

Penalties may occur before a play starts (such as offside), during the play (such as holding), or in a dead-ball situation (such as unsportsmanlike conduct).

Penalties never result in a score for the offence. For example, a point-of-foul infraction committed by the defence in their end zone is not ruled a touchdown, but instead advances the ball to the one-yard line with an automatic first down. For a distance penalty, if the yardage is greater than half the distance to the goal line, then the ball is advanced half the distance to the goal line, though only up to the one-yard line (unlike American football, in Canadian football no scrimmage may start inside either one-yard line). If the original penalty yardage would have resulted in a first down or moving the ball past the goal line, a first down is awarded.

In most cases, the non-penalized team will have the option of declining the penalty; in which case the results of the previous play stand as if the penalty had not been called. One notable exception to this rule is if the kicking team on a 3rd down punt play is penalized before the kick occurs: the receiving team may not decline the penalty and take over on downs. After the kick is made, change of possession occurs and subsequent penalties are assessed against either the spot where the ball is caught, or the runback.

Kicking

Canadian football distinguishes four ways of kicking the ball:

Place kick
Kicking a ball held on the ground by a teammate, or, on a kickoff (resuming play following a score), optionally placed on a tee.
Drop kick
Kicking a ball after bouncing it on the ground. Although rarely used today, it has the same status in scoring as a place kick. This play is part of the game's rugby heritage, and was largely made obsolete when the ball with pointed ends was adopted. Unlike the American game, Canadian rules allow a drop kick to be attempted at any time by any player, but the move is very rare.
Punt
Kicking the ball after it has been released from the kicker's hand and before it hits the ground. Punts may not score a field goal, even if one should travel through the uprights. As with drop kicks, players may punt at any time.
Dribbled ball
A dribbled ball is one that has been kicked while not in possession of a player, for example, a loose ball following a fumble, a blocked kick, a kickoff, or a kick from scrimmage. The kicker of the dribbled ball and any player onside when the ball was kicked may legally recover the ball.

On any kicking play, all onside players (the kicker, and teammates behind the kicker at the time of the kick) may recover and advance the ball. Players on the kicking team who are not onside may not approach within five yards of the ball until it has been touched by the receiving team, or by an onside teammate.

Scoring

The methods of scoring are:

Touchdown 
Achieved when the ball is in possession of a player in the opponent's end zone, or when the ball in the possession of a player crosses or touches the plane of the opponent's goal-line, worth 6 points (5 points until 1956). A touchdown in Canadian football is often referred to as a "major score" or simply a "major."
Conversion (or convert) 
After a touchdown, the team that scored gets one scrimmage play to attempt to add one or two more points. If they make what would normally be a field goal, they score one point (a "point-after"); what would normally be a touchdown scores two points (a "two-point conversion"). In amateur games, this scrimmage is taken at the opponents' 5-yard line. The CFL formerly ran all conversion attempts from the 5-yard line as well, but starting in 2015 the line of scrimmage for one-point kick attempts became the 25-yard line, while two-point attempts are scrimmaged at the 3-yard line.[15] No matter what happens on the convert attempt, play then continues with a kickoff (see below).
Field goal 
Scored by a drop kick or place kick (except on a kickoff) when the ball, after being kicked and without again touching the ground, goes over the cross bar and between the goal posts (or between lines extended from the top of the goal posts) of the opponent's goal, worth three points. If the ball hits the upright above the cross-bar before going through, it is not considered a dead ball, and the points are scored. (Rule 5, Sect 4, Art 4(d)) If the field goal is missed, but the ball is not returnable after crossing the dead-ball-line, then it constitutes a rouge (see below).
Safety 
Scored when the ball becomes dead in the possession of a team in its own goal area, or when the ball touches or crosses the dead-line, or side-line-in-goal and touches the ground, a player, or some object beyond these lines as a result of the team scored against making a play. It is worth two points. This is different from a single (see below) in that the team scored against begins with possession of the ball. The most common safety is on a third down punt from the end zone, in which the kicker decides not to punt and keeps the ball in his team's own goal area. The ball is then turned over to the receiving team (who gained the two points), by way of a kickoff from the 25 yard line or scrimmaging from the 35-yard (32 m) line on their side of the field.
Single (rouge) 
Scored when the ball becomes dead in the possession of a team in its own goal area, or when the ball touches or crosses the dead-line, or side-line-in-goal, and touches the ground, a player, or some object beyond these lines as a result of the ball having been kicked from the field of play into the goal area by the scoring team. It is worth one point. This is different from a Safety (see above) in that team scored against receives possession of the ball after the score.
Officially, the single is called a rouge (French for "red") but is often referred to as a single. The exact derivation of the term is unknown, but it has been thought that in early Canadian football, the scoring of a single was signalled with a red flag. A rouge is also a method of scoring in the Eton field game, which dates from at least 1815.

Resumption of play

Resumption of play following a score is conducted under procedures which vary with the type of score.

  • Following a touchdown and convert attempt (successful or not), play resumes with the scoring team kicking off from its own 35-yard line (45-yard line in amateur leagues).
  • Following a field goal, the non-scoring team may choose for play to resume either with a kickoff as above, or by scrimmaging the ball from its own 35-yard line.
  • Following a safety, the scoring team may choose for play to resume in either of the above ways, or it may choose to kick off from its own 35-yard line.
  • Following a single or rouge, play resumes with the non-scoring team scrimmaging from its own 35-yard line, unless the single is awarded on a missed field goal, in which case the non-scoring team scrimmages from either the 35-yard line or the yard line from which the field goal was attempted, whichever is greater.

Game timing

The game consists of two 30-minute halves, each of which is divided into two 15-minute quarters. The clock counts down from 15:00 in each quarter. Timing rules change when there are three minutes remaining in a half. A short break interval of 2 minutes occurs after the end of each quarter (a longer break of 15 minutes at halftime), and the two teams then change goals.

In the first 27 minutes of a half, the clock stops when:

  • points are scored,
  • the ball goes out of bounds,
  • a forward pass is incomplete,
  • the ball is dead and a penalty flag has been thrown,
  • the ball is dead and teams are making substitutions (e.g., possession has changed, punting situation, short yardage situation),
  • the ball is dead and a player is injured, or
  • the ball is dead and a captain or a coach calls a time-out.

The clock starts again when the referee determines the ball is ready for scrimmage, except for team time-outs (where the clock starts at the snap), after a time count foul (at the snap) and kickoffs (where the clock starts not at the kick but when the ball is first touched after the kick).

In the last three minutes of a half, the clock stops whenever the ball becomes dead. On kickoffs, the clock starts when the ball is first touched after the kick. On scrimmages, when it starts depends on what ended the previous play. The clock starts when the ball is ready for scrimmage except that it starts on the snap when on the previous play

  • the ball was kicked off,
  • the ball was punted,
  • the ball changed possession,
  • the ball went out of bounds,
  • there were points scored,
  • there was an incomplete forward pass,
  • there was a penalty applied (not declined), or
  • there was a team time-out.

During the last three minutes of a half, the penalty for failure to place the ball in play within the 20-second play clock, known as "time count" (this foul is known as "delay of game" in American football), is dramatically different from during the first 27 minutes. Instead of the penalty being 5 yards with the down repeated, the base penalty (except during convert attempts) becomes loss of down on first or second down, and 10 yards on third down with the down repeated. In addition, as noted previously, the referee can give possession to the defence for repeated deliberate time count violations on third down.

The clock does not run during convert attempts in the last three minutes of a half. If the 15 minutes of a quarter expire while the ball is live, the quarter is extended until the ball becomes dead. If a quarter's time expires while the ball is dead, the quarter is extended for one more scrimmage. A quarter cannot end while a penalty is pending: after the penalty yardage is applied, the quarter is extended one scrimmage. Note that the non-penalized team has the option to decline any penalty it considers disadvantageous, so a losing team cannot indefinitely prolong a game by repeatedly committing infractions.

Overtime

In the CFL, if the game is tied at the end of regulation play, then each team is given an equal number of offensive possessions to break the tie. A coin toss is held to determine which team will take possession first; the first team scrimmages the ball at the opponent's 35-yard line and conducts a series of downs until it scores or loses possession. If the team scores a touchdown, starting with the 2010 season, it is required to attempt a two-point conversion.[16] The other team then scrimmages the ball at the opponent's 35-yard line and has the same opportunity to score. After the teams have completed their possessions, if one team is ahead, then it is declared the winner; otherwise, the two teams each get another chance to score, scrimmaging from the other 35-yard line. After this second round, if there is still no winner, during the regular season the game ends as a tie. In a playoff game, the teams continue to attempt to score from alternating 35-yard lines, until one team is leading after both have had an equal number of possessions.

In U Sports football, for the Uteck Bowl, Mitchell Bowl, and Vanier Cup, the same overtime procedure is followed until there is a winner.

Players


The offence (yellow and white) are first-and-ten at their 54-yard line against the defence (red and black) in a U Sports football game. The twelve players of each side and the umpire (one of seven officials) are shown. The offence is in a one-back offence with five receivers.
Note: The labels are clickable.

Offence

The offensive positions found in Canadian football have, for the most part, evolved throughout the years, and are not officially defined in the rules. However, among offensive players, the rules recognize three different types of players:

Down linemen
Down linemen are players who, at the start of every play, line up at the line of scrimmage; once in their stance, they may not move until the play begins. The offence must have at least seven players lined up at the line of scrimmage on every play. The exception to this rule is the player (typically the centre) who snaps the ball to the quarterback. Linemen generally do not run with the ball (unless they recover it on a fumble) or receive a hand-off or lateral pass, but there is no rule against it. Interior linemen (that is, excluding the two players at either end of the scrimmage line) are ineligible receivers; they may not receive a forward pass either. (The two offensive ends on the line of scrimmage may receive forward passes, and may be in motion along the line of scrimmage prior to the snap.)
Backs
Backs line up behind the linemen; they may run with the ball, receive handoffs, laterals, and forward passes. They may also be in motion before the play starts.

Specific offensive positions include:

Backs/Receivers
Quarterback
Generally the leader of the offence. Calls all plays to teammates, receives the ball off of snap, and initiates the action usually by running the ball himself, passing the ball to a receiver, or handing the ball off to another back.
Fullback
Multiple roles including pass protection, receiving, and blocking for the running back. On short yardage situations may also carry the ball.
Running back/Tailback
As the name implies, the main runner on the team. Also an eligible receiver and blocker on pass plays.
Wide receiver
Lines up on the line of scrimmage, usually at a distance from the centre. Runs a given route to make a successful play catch ball and gain yardage, not that a tight end can count as an eligible receiver so if one is on the wide outs field that the wideout cannot be on the line of scrimmage and may adopt a slotback start.
Slotback
Is an eligible receiver but lines up off the line (usually 8yds back) of scrimmage and runs before snap and can not have any part on field over scrimmage or it's an off-side call
Down linemen
Centre
Snaps the ball to the quarterback. Most important pass blocker on pass plays. Calls offensive line plays.
Left/right guard
Stands to the left and right of the centre helps protect the quarterback, Usually very good run blockers to open holes up the middle for runners.
Left/right tackle
Stands on the ends of the offensive line, The biggest men on the line, usually well over 300 pounds (140 kg). Usually very good pass blockers.
Offensive lineman
Collective name for the centre, guards and tackles.

Defence

The rules do not constrain how the defence may arrange itself (other than the requirement that they must remain one yard behind the line of scrimmage until the play starts).

Cornerback
Covers the wide receivers on most plays.
Safety
Covers deep. Last line of defence, can offer run support or blitz.
Defensive halfback
Covers the slotback and helps contain the run from going to the outside.
Defensive back
Collective term for cornerback, safety and defensive halfback.
Nose tackle
Lineman across from centre, tries to get past the offensive-line or take double team and open holes for blitzes.
Defensive tackle
Inside defensive linemen try to break through the offensive line and open holes for linebackers.
Defensive end
Main rushing lineman. Rushes the quarterback and tries to contain rushers behind the line of scrimmage.
Defensive lineman
Collective term for defensive tackle (or nose tackle) and defensive end.
Middle linebacker
Lines up across from the centre 3 to 4 yds/m back. Quarterback of the defence. Calls plays for lineman and linebackers.
Weak-side linebacker
Lines up on the short side of field, and can drop into pass coverage or contain.
Strong-side linebacker
Lines up on the opposite side and usually rushes.

Special teams

Special teams generally refers to kicking plays, which typically involve a change in possession.

Holder
Receives the snap on field goal tries and converts; places the ball in position and holds it to be kicked by the kicker. This position is generally filled by a reserve quarterback; occasionally the starting quarterback or punter will fill in as holder.
Kicker
Kicks field goals, converts, kick-offs
Punter
Punts ball, usually on third downs
Returners
Fast, agile runners who specialize in fielding punts, field goals and kickoffs, attempting to advance them for better field position or a score.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c "Timeline 1860s". Official Site of the Canadian Football League. Canadian Football League. Archived from the original on 1 May 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  2. ^ Zelkovich, Chris (1 December 2009). "Grey Cup a ratings champion". The Toronto Star. Toronto, Ontario. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  3. ^ Chris Zelkovich, The Great Canadian ratings report: Drop in Grey Cup audience follows CFL's downward trend, Yahoo Sports, 2 December 2014
  4. ^ "History". Football Canada. 2014-05-10. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  5. ^ "History – CFL.ca – Official Site of the Canadian Football League". CFL.ca. Archived from the original on 13 December 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  6. ^ "gridiron football (sport)". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. britannica.com. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  7. ^ "History – CFL.ca – Official Site of the Canadian Football League". CFL.ca. Archived from the original on 13 December 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Canadian Football League (CFL)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  9. ^ "History – CFL.ca – Official Site of the Canadian Football League". CFL.ca. Archived from the original on 13 December 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  10. ^ "History – CFL.ca – Official Site of the Canadian Football League". CFL.ca. Archived from the original on 13 December 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  11. ^ a b "History – CFL.ca – Official Site of the Canadian Football League". CFL.ca. Archived from the original on 9 November 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about Game Rules and Regulations". Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  13. ^ "CFL introduces 4 rule changes for 2009 season". Canadian Broadcasting Company. 2009-05-11. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  14. ^ "Rule 1, Section 7, Article 9: Time Count" (PDF). The Official Playing Rules for the Canadian Football League 2015. Canadian Football League. pp. 18–19. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  15. ^ "Major rule changes approved by CFL Governors". cfl.ca. 8 April 2015.
  16. ^ The Canadian Press (2010-04-14). "CFL approves rule requiring two-point convert attempts in OT". CTVglobemedia. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 18 April 2010.

External links

Cameron Wake

Derek Cameron Wake (born January 30, 1982) is an American football outside linebacker for the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for Penn State University, and was signed by the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2005.

Wake has also played for the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League (CFL), earning the league's Most Outstanding Rookie Award in 2007. He recorded 39 sacks over his first two seasons in the CFL, earning Western Division All-Star honors as well as the Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award both years.

In 2009, Wake signed with the Miami Dolphins and has been with the team ever since, while establishing himself as one of the premier DEs in the NFL. Wake has been selected to 5 Pro Bowls (4 at DE, 1 at OLB), and is a four time first or second team All-Pro. His 98 career sacks (all with the Dolphins) ranks him 2nd all-time in club history, only to Hall of Famer Jason Taylor's 131 sacks, and also ranks 2nd all-time amongst "undrafted free agents", only to Hall of Famer John Randle's 137.5 sacks.

Canadian Football League

The Canadian Football League (CFL; French: Ligue canadienne de football, LCF) is a professional sports league in Canada. The CFL is the highest level of competition in Canadian football. The league consists of nine teams, each located in a city in Canada. They are divided into two divisions: four teams in the East Division and five teams in the West Division.

As of 2018, it features a 21-week regular season where each team plays 18 games with three bye weeks. This season traditionally runs from mid-June to early November. Following the regular season, six teams compete in the league's three-week divisional playoffs which culminate in the Grey Cup championship game in late November. The Grey Cup is one of Canada's largest annual sports and television events.The CFL was officially founded on January 19, 1958. The league was formed through a merger between the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (founded in 1907) and the Western Interprovincial Football Union (founded in 1936).

Carl Weathers

Carl Weathers (born January 14, 1948) is an American actor and former professional football player. He is best known for portraying Apollo Creed in the Rocky series of films, Al Dillon in Predator, Chubbs Peterson in Happy Gilmore and Little Nicky, and a fictionalized version of himself on the comedy series Arrested Development. As a football player, Weathers played for the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League and the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League.

Center (gridiron football)

Center (C) is a position in American football and Canadian football (in the latter the position is spelled centre, following Commonwealth spelling conventions). The center is the innermost lineman of the offensive line on a football team's offense. The center is also the player who passes (or "snaps") the ball between his legs to the quarterback at the start of each play.

In recent years, the importance of centers for a football team has increased, due to the re-emergence of 3–4 defenses. According to Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, "you need to have somebody who can neutralize that nose tackle. If you don't, everything can get screwed up. Your running game won't be effective and you'll also have somebody in your quarterback's face on every play."

Defensive back

In American football and Canadian football, defensive backs (DBs) are the players on the defensive team who take positions somewhat back from the line of scrimmage; they are distinguished from the defensive line players and linebackers, who take positions directly behind or close to the line of scrimmage.The defensive backs, in turn, generally are classified into several different specialized positions:

Safety:

Free safety – most often the deepest safety

Strong safety – the bigger more physical safety, much like a small, quicker linebacker

Defensive halfback (Canadian football only)

Cornerback – which include:

Nickelback – the fifth defensive back in some sets, such as the nickel formation

Dimeback – the sixth defensive back in some sets, such as the dime formation

The seventh defensive back, in the exceedingly rare "quarter" set, but often strong

known as a dollar back or a quarter back (not to be confused with the offensive player who throws the ball)The group of defensive backs is known collectively as the secondary; being the second line of defense after the lineman and guards. They most often defend the wide receiver corps; however, at times they may also line up against a tight end or a split out running back.

End (gridiron football)

An end in American and Canadian football is a player who lines up at either end of the line of scrimmage, usually beside the tackles. Rules state that a legal offensive formation must always consist of seven players on the line of scrimmage and that the player on the end of the line constitutes an eligible receiver.

Before the advent of two platoons, in which teams fielded distinct defensive and offensive units, players that lined up on the ends of the line on both offense and defense were referred to simply as "ends". The position was used in this sense until roughly the 1960s.On offense, an end who lines up close to the other linemen is known as a tight end and is the only lineman who aside from blocking can run or catch passes. One who lines up some distance from the offensive line is known as a split end. In recent years and the proliferation of the forward pass, the term wide receiver covers both split ends and flankers (wide receivers who line up in split positions but behind the line of scrimmage). The terms “split end” and “flanker” are often replaced today with terms like "X" and "Z" receivers. Bill Carpenter was the first "Lonesome end."

On defense, there is a commonly used position called the defensive end. Its primary role is to rush the passer, as well as to stop offensive runs to the outer edges of the line of scrimmage (most often referred to as "containment"). However, as there are no rules regulating the formation of the defense, players at this position commonly take on and share multiple roles with other positions in different defensive schemes.

Fullback (gridiron football)

A fullback (FB) is a position in the offensive backfield in American and Canadian football, and is one of the two running back positions along with the halfback. Typically, fullbacks are larger than halfbacks and in most offensive schemes their duties are split between power running, pass catching, and blocking for both the quarterback and the other running back.Many great runners in the history of American football have been fullbacks, including Jim Brown, Marion Motley, Jim Taylor, Franco Harris, Larry Csonka, John Riggins, Christian Okoye, and Levi Jackson. However, many of these runners would retroactively be labeled as halfbacks, due to their position as the primary ball carrier; they were primarily listed as fullbacks due to their size and did not often perform the run-blocking duties expected of modern fullbacks. Examples of players who have excelled at the hybrid running-blocking-pass catching role include Mike Alstott, Daryl Johnston, and Lorenzo Neal.

Gridiron football

Gridiron football, also known as North American football or, in North America, simply football, is a football sport primarily played in the United States and Canada. American football, which uses 11-player teams, is the form played in the United States and the best known form of gridiron football worldwide, while Canadian football, featuring 12-player teams, predominates in Canada. Other derivative varieties include indoor football, football for smaller teams (most commonly eight players), and informal games such as touch and flag football. Football is played at professional, collegiate, semi-professional, and amateur levels.

The sport originated in the 19th century out of older games related to modern rugby football and soccer (association football). American and Canadian football developed alongside each other and were originally more distinct before Canadian teams adopted features of the American game. Both varieties are distinguished from other football sports by their use of hard plastic helmets and shoulder pads, the forward pass, the system of downs, a number of unique rules and positions, measurement in customary units of yards (even in Canada, which mostly metricated in the 1970s, yards are still used), and a distinctive brown leather ball in the shape of a prolate spheroid with pointed ends.

The international governing body for the sport is the International Federation of American Football (IFAF); although the organization plays all of its international competitions under American rules, it uses a definition of the game that is broad enough that it includes Canadian football under its umbrella, and Football Canada (the governing body for Canadian football) is an IFAF member.

Guard (American and Canadian football)

In American and Canadian football, a guard (G) is a player who lines up between the center and the tackles on the offensive line of a football team on the line of scrimmage used primarily for blocking. Right guards (RG) is the term for the guards on the right of the offensive line, while left guards (LG) are on the left side. Guards are to the right or left of the center.

The guard's job is to protect the quarterback from the incoming linemen during pass plays, as well as creating openings (holes) for the running backs to head through. Guards are automatically considered ineligible receivers, so they cannot intentionally touch a forward pass, unless it is to recover a fumble or is first touched by a defender or eligible receiver.

Interception

In ball-playing competitive team sports, an interception or pick is a move by a player involving a pass of the ball—whether by foot or hand, depending on the rules of the sport—in which the ball is intended for a player of the same team but caught by a player of the opposing team, who thereby usually gains possession of the ball for their team. It is commonly seen in football, including American and Canadian football, as well as association football, rugby league, rugby union, Australian rules football and Gaelic football, as well as any sport by which a loose object is passed between players toward a goal.

In basketball, a pick is called a steal.

Lineman (gridiron football)

In gridiron football, a lineman is a player who specializes in play at the line of scrimmage. The linemen of the team currently in possession of the ball are the offensive line, while linemen on the opposing team are the defensive line. A number of NFL rules specifically address restrictions and requirements for the offensive line, whose job is to help protect the quarterback from getting sacked for a loss, or worse, fumbling. The defensive line is covered by the same rules that apply to all defensive players. Linemen are usually the largest players on the field in both height and weight, since their positions usually require less running and more strength than skill positions.

Mike Mayock

Michael Francis Mayock (born August 14, 1958) is an American football executive and former player who is the current general manager of the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL). Mayock was also a safety with the New York Giants of the NFL, a draft analyst for the NFL Network and a game analyst for NBC's coverage of Notre Dame football. Mayock is known for his thick Philadelphia accent/lisp.

Play from scrimmage

A play from scrimmage is the activity of the games of Canadian football and American football during which one team tries to advance the ball, get a first down, or to score, and the other team tries to stop them or take the ball away. Once a play is over, and before the next play starts, the football is considered dead. A game of American football (or Canadian Football) consists of many (about 120-150) such plays.

Safety (gridiron football position)

Safety, historically known as a safetyman, is a position in American and Canadian football played by a member of the defense. The safeties are defensive backs who line up from ten to fifteen yards in front of the line of scrimmage. There are two variations of the position in a typical American formation: the free safety (FS) and the strong safety (SS). Their duties depend on the defensive scheme. The defensive responsibilities of the safety and cornerback usually involve pass coverage towards the middle and sidelines of the field, respectively. While American (11-player) formations generally use two safeties, Canadian (12-player) formations generally have one safety and two defensive halfbacks, a position not used in the American game.

As professional and college football have become more focused on the passing game, safeties have become more involved in covering the eligible pass receivers.Safeties are the last line of defense; they are expected to be reliable tacklers, and many safeties rank among the hardest hitters in football. Safety positions can also be converted cornerbacks, either by design (Byron Jones) or as a cornerback ages (Charles Woodson, DeAngelo Hall, Lardarius Webb, Tramon Williams).

Historically, in the era of the one-platoon system, the safety was known as the defensive fullback (specifically the free safety; the strong safety would be a defensive halfback, a term still in Canadian parlance) or goaltender.

Tackle (gridiron football position)

Tackle is a playing position in American and Canadian football. Historically, in the one-platoon system prevalent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a tackle played on both offense and defense. In the modern system of specialized units, offensive tackle and defensive tackle are separate positions, and the stand-alone term "tackle" refers to the offensive tackle position only. The offensive tackle (OT, T) is a position on the offensive line, left and right. Like other offensive linemen, their job is to block: to physically keep defenders away from the offensive player who has the football and enable him to advance the football and eventually score a touchdown. The term "tackle" is a vestige of an earlier era of football in which the same players played both offense and defense.

A tackle is the strong position on the offensive line. They power their blocks with quick steps and maneuverability. The tackles are mostly in charge of the outside protection. If the tight end goes out for a pass, the tackle must cover everyone that his guard does not, plus whoever the tight end is not covering. Usually they defend against defensive ends. In the NFL, offensive tackles often measure over 6 ft 4 in (193 cm) and 300 lb (140 kg).

According to Sports Illustrated football journalist Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman, offensive tackles consistently achieve the highest scores, relative to the other positional groups, on the Wonderlic Test, with an average of 26. The Wonderlic is taken before the draft to assess each player's aptitude for learning and problem solving; a score of 26 is estimated to correspond with an IQ of 113.

Tom Clements

Thomas Albert Clements (born June 18, 1953) is an American football coach and a former Canadian Football League (CFL) quarterback who is the current passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL).

Touchdown

A touchdown is a scoring play in both American and Canadian football. Whether running, passing, returning a kickoff or punt, or recovering a turnover, a team scores a touchdown by advancing the ball into the opponent's end zone.

Warren Moon

Harold Warren Moon (born November 18, 1956) is a former American and Canadian football quarterback who played professionally for 23 seasons. He spent the majority of his career with the Houston Oilers of the National Football League (NFL) and the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League (CFL). Moon also played for the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL.

Moon began his professional career with the Eskimos in 1978, after going unselected in the NFL Draft. His success during his six seasons in the CFL led him to the NFL in 1984 with the Oilers. Over his 17 NFL seasons, Moon was named to nine Pro Bowls and made seven playoff appearances. Following ten seasons with the Oilers, he had brief multiple-year stints with the Vikings, Seahawks, and Chiefs before retiring at age 44.

At the time of his retirement, Moon held several all-time professional gridiron football passing records. He was less successful in the NFL postseason, never advancing beyond the division round of the playoffs, although he won five Grey Cups in the CFL. Moon was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, becoming the first African-American quarterback and the first undrafted quarterback to receive the honor.

Wide receiver

A wide receiver, also referred to as wideouts or simply receivers, is an offensive position in American and Canadian football, and is a key player. They get their name because they are split out "wide" (near the sidelines), farthest away from the rest of the team. Wide receivers are among the fastest players on the field. The wide receiver functions as the pass-catching specialist.

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