Chain crew

In gridiron football, the chain crew (commonly known as the "chain gang") is a crew that manages signal poles on one of the sidelines.

The chain crew, under the direction of the head linesman/down judge, signals the officials' decisions; it does not make decisions. Players look to the chain crew to see the down number and the line to gain. Officials may rely on the chain crew after a play (incomplete pass or penalty) whose outcome depends on the original spot of the ball.

Rutgers Football
The chain crew at work during a Rutgers Scarlet Knights football game. The rear rod (right) marks the 21-yard line and the forward rod marks the 11. The "box" is behind the rear rod, to be visible to the press box across the field.

Members

Three members of the chain crew hold poles upright. The bottom of each pole is placed along a sideline to denote a line across the gridiron to the opposite sideline.

  1. A "rod man" holds the "rear rod" that marks the beginning of the current set of downs.
  2. Another "rod man" holds the "forward rod" ten yards toward the defense's goal-line from the rear rod. This marker indicates the line to gain, which the offense must reach in their series of four downs in order to retain possession of the ball. The two rods (sometimes known as "sticks") are attached at the bottom by a chain exactly ten yards long. The chain is always taut so that the rods are ten yards apart.
  3. The "box man" holds a pole that marks the line of scrimmage.

There may be additional chain crew members. A "clip man" is discussed below. In the NFL, additional chain crew members have additional tasks, such as to relieve the line judge of the clerical task of recording all assessed penalties.[1] Despite the use of "man" in the colloquial terms for the chain crew positions, women can perform any of them.[1]

Members of the chain crew are usually picked by the offices of the home team instead of the league or conference. In the NFL, members of the chain crew must have credentials entitling them to access to the field, and must wear white shirts. The home team pays them; some teams pay an hourly wage and others pay a flat rate to work a game.[1]

The chain crew does not wear protective gear as players do. A routine instruction by officials to the chain crew is to withdraw or drop their signals, and move back, if the play comes toward them so as to endanger them. The signals often use bright orange color and are padded to minimize injury.

Location

For games at all levels below the NFL, the chain crew operates on the side of the field opposite the press box and home team (the side of the visiting team). In the NFL, the chain crew switches sides at halftime; the referee determines their initial placement. On fields where both teams' benches are located on the same side of the field, the chain crew operates on the opposite side for the entire game.

In the NFL and other venues where there is a zone behind the sidelines, all three poles are placed somewhere along the back line of this zone. Otherwise, the poles are placed along the sideline.

Auxiliary chain crew

For professional and college football games, an auxiliary chain crew operates on the opposite side of the field, supervised by the line judge. Their presence lets players and officials look to either side of the field for information. The auxiliary chain crew also includes the drive start indicator, which is placed at the beginning of a team's drive and stays there until the team loses possession. This indicator is only used for statistical purposes to calculate the distance of each drive. It looks similar to a "stick" and has an arrow (or occasionally a large "X") that points in the direction the offensive team is going.

The NFL previously used an additional fourth chain crew member, which held a rod marked with an X to mark the spot of the last drive start. The X marker was eliminated in 2018.[1]

Operations

At the start of a series of downs, the linesman stands so that the heel of one foot marks the initial line of scrimmage. The box man places his indicator to mark this position and sets the box to display "1". The operator of the rear rod marks the same position, while the other rod man moves ten yards toward the defense's goal line to mark the line to gain.

The linesman, the box man, or a fourth member of the chain crew attaches a "clip" to the chain to line up with the rear edge of the closest five-yard line to the rear rod.[2] A device on the clip indicates which numbered line this is. The clip and the device let the chain crew restore the position of the rods after a mishap. In leagues such as the NFL with Instant Replay, there may be multiple clips to let the rods be repositioned after a play is reviewed and reversed.[2]

After a typical play, the box man increments the displayed number and realigns that pole to the new line of scrimmage, again as directed by the linesman. After a play that results in a first down, all three members move and reset their signals to mark a new series of downs.

The chain crew must not move until the referee or linesman signals whether the play finished without a penalty. On a penalty, the chain crew stays put so that the officials can see the original state. When the referee and linesman walk off the appropriate number of yards, the box man moves as well. The box man does not change the number displayed, except on a penalty that results in a loss of down. On a penalty that results in a first down, the entire chain crew moves and resets.

When possession of the ball switches to the other team, the forward rod becomes the rear rod and vice versa to minimize the distance the rod men have to move. However, at the end of the first and third quarters, when players switch directions on the field, the chain crew also moves (for example, a marker may move from one 32-yard line to the other 32-yard line). The rear rod man moves past the forward rod man and continues to mark the start of the series of downs, in the new orientation. The linesman and other officials supervise this movement, using one or more clips to exactly reposition the chains.[3]

On plays where there is no line to gain (a series of downs that starts within 10 yards of the goal line, a try after touchdown, or a kickoff), the rod men lower or lay down their signals, but the box man continues to mark the line of scrimmage.

On-field measurements

1st down measurement at UCLA at Cal 10-25-08
A first down measurement during a game between the USC Trojans and the California Golden Bears.

The chains are brought onto the field whenever the referee needs an accurate measurement to determine if a first down has been made. A team may also request an accurate measurement to determine how far they have to reach for the first down.

5-yard mark

Before the game, many linesmen attach a piece of tape at the midpoint of the chain.[4] The linesman can compare the line of scrimmage to this mark at the start of a play and know whether a 5-yard penalty against the defense will result in a first down. If so, the linesman's typical hand signal to the line judge across the field is to extend the arms with the thumbs pointing toward one another. Such a gesture with thumbs pointing away signals that there are more than 5 yards to gain.[5]:6.10.1

History

All levels of organized football use the chain crew. One notable exception at the professional level was the World Football League of 1974 to 1975, which used the "Dicker-rod," a proprietary, 90-inch stick that allowed measurements to be made with one person instead of three. The Dicker-rod was never used outside the WFL.

The "box" (down marker) has evolved over time. In the pre-television era, it was a rod (shorter than the height of the operator) with a triangular pointer that rotated to show the official the down number. It was replaced with a much larger, two-sided flipper system when television became widespread; flipper-style down markers are still in use in scholastic and amateur football. A more modern model is the Dial-a-Down, in which compact levers display a new down number over the entire face of the "box"; this model is used at most college and professional games.[1] Electronic down markers using LEDs are emerging as the next advance.[6] However, further application of technology to measure the lengthwise position of the football, such as sensors inside the football, may be resisted based on affection for the human element.[1]

References

In the Official Rules of the NFL, the chain crew is described in Rule 1-5. The linesman's instructions to the chain crew are described in Rules 15-4-3 through 15-4-5.

  1. ^ a b c d e f Lukas, Paul (December 12, 2018). "Everything you ever wanted to know about the crew that moves the chains in the NFL". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Mark Schultz (2012-11-27). "HL, chain gang use special equipment to keep chains accurate on the field". FootballZebras.com. Retrieved 2017-01-06.
  3. ^ Kirk Russell (2016-09-09). "Chain Crew – End of Quarter". Colorado Football Officials Association. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  4. ^ Skip Harrison. "Chain Gang". Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  5. ^ "2015 AIA Football Officiating Mechanics Manual". AIA. 2015-07-24.
  6. ^ "Fisher Electronic Football Down Marker". Anthem Sports. Retrieved 2019-01-08.
2015 CFL season

The 2015 CFL season was the 62nd season of modern Canadian professional football. Officially, it was the 58th season of the league. The Edmonton Eskimos won the 103rd Grey Cup on November 29, defeating the Ottawa Redblacks 26–20 in Winnipeg. The schedule was released February 13, 2015 and the regular season began on June 25, 2015.

2015 Kansas State Wildcats football team

The 2015 Kansas State Wildcats football team represented Kansas State University in the 2015 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Wildcats played their home games at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium, in Manhattan, Kansas as they have done since 1968. The Wildcats were led by head coach Bill Snyder in his 24th overall and seventh straight season since taking over for his second tenure in 2009. 2015 was the 120th season in school history. K-State was a member of the Big 12 Conference. They finished the season 6–7, 3–6 in Big 12 play to finish in eighth place. They were invited to the Liberty Bowl where they lost to Arkansas.

American football

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

American football evolved in the United States, originating from the sports of association football (known in the U.S. as soccer) and rugby football. The first match of American football was played on November 6, 1869, between two college teams, Rutgers and Princeton, under rules based on the association football rules of the time. During the latter half of the 1870s, colleges playing association football switched to the Rugby Union code, which allowed carrying the ball. A set of rule changes drawn up from 1880 onward by Walter Camp, the "Father of American Football", established the snap, the line of scrimmage, eleven-player teams, and the concept of downs; later rule changes legalized the forward pass, created the neutral zone, and specified the size and shape of the football. The sport is closely related to Canadian football, which evolved parallel and contemporary to the American game, and most of the features that distinguish American football from rugby and soccer are also present in Canadian football.

American football as a whole is the most popular sport in the United States. The most popular forms of the game are professional and college football, with the other major levels being high school and youth football. As of 2012, nearly 1.1 million high school athletes and 70,000 college athletes play the sport in the United States annually, almost all of them men, with a few exceptions. The National Football League, the most popular American football league, has the highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the world; its championship game, the Super Bowl, ranks among the most-watched club sporting events in the world, and the league has an annual revenue of around US$10 billion.

Chain gang (disambiguation)

A chain gang is a system of labor (usually forced) that involves groups of prisoners chained together doing menial labor.

Chain gang may also refer to:

Chain gang (cycling), a group of cyclists in a close-knit formation, normally for the purposes of training

Chain crew or chain gang, the officials on the sidelines of an American football game who carry the first-down indicators connected by chains

Chain ganging, an elevated probability for inter-state conflict

Conversion (gridiron football)

The conversion, try (American football, also known as a point(s) after touchdown, PAT, or extra point), or convert (Canadian football) occurs immediately after a touchdown during which the scoring team is allowed to attempt to score one extra point by kicking the ball through the uprights in the manner of a field goal, or two points by bringing the ball into the end zone in the manner of a touchdown.

Attempts at a try or convert are scrimmage plays, with the ball initially placed at any point between the hash marks, at the option of the team making the attempt. The yard line that attempts are made from depends on the league and the type of try or convert being attempted.

If the try or convert is scored by kicking the ball through the uprights, the team gets an additional one point for their touchdown, bringing their total for that score from six points to seven. If two points are needed or desired, a two-point conversion may be attempted by running or passing from scrimmage. A successful touchdown conversion from scrimmage brings the score's total to eight.

Whether a team goes for one or two points, most rules regarding scrimmage downs, including scoring touchdowns and field goals, apply as if it were a normal American fourth-down or Canadian third-down play. Exceptions, including cases where the defense forces a turnover during a conversion attempt, vary between leagues and levels of play. One thing that sets the try apart from other plays in the NFL is that, apart from the actual points, ordinary statistics are not recorded on the try as they would be on a regular scrimmage play. For example, on December 4, 2016, Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs made an interception on a try and physically returned it 99 yards for a defensive two-point conversion. However, because it occurred on a try, Berry did not get statistical credit for the 99 yards of return yardage; nor would a player ever be credited with passing, rushing, or receiving yardage on a try.

Cornerback

A cornerback (CB), also referred to as a corner or defensive halfback in older parlance, is a member of the defensive backfield or secondary in American and Canadian football. Cornerbacks cover receivers most of the time, to defend against offensive plays, i.e create turnovers in best case or (more common) deflect a forward pass or rather make a tackle. Other members of the defensive backfield include the safeties and occasionally linebackers. The cornerback position requires speed, agility, and strength. A cornerback's skillset typically requires proficiency in anticipating the quarterback, backpedaling, executing single and zone coverage, disrupting pass routes, block shedding, and tackling. Cornerbacks are among the fastest players on the field.

Dicker-rod

The dicker-rod (also spelled dickerod) was used in the now defunct World Football League in 1974 for the purpose of replacing the first down chains more commonly used in gridiron football organizations. The device was invented and patented by George Dicker (for whom the device is named) of Orange County, California.

The eponymous device was two and a half yards (90 inches) long. If a ball was placed on the 23-yard line, a marker would be placed 2 yards up the dicker-rod at the 25-yard line. Then, in order to measure whether a first down was attained, the dicker-rod would be laid down at the 35-yard line, and the spot of the ball would be measured against the marker on the rod, which would now be at the 33-yard line, 2 yards away from the 35-yard line.

The dicker-rod was intended for safety as a ten yard length of chain laying along the sideline was a hazard for players. A full chain crew was not needed, and measurements could be completed by one person instead of the typical three. Despite its elegant simplicity, the dicker rod never caught on outside of World Football League, and the three-man chain measurement crew remains the standard to this day.

Edward Zemprelli

Edward P. Zemprelli (May 11, 1925 – December 4, 2017) was a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania State Senate and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

A native of Clairton, Pennsylvania, Zemprelli grew up in an Italian American Catholic family. He earned a degree from Pennsylvania State University, where he was a member of the debate team and worked on the chain crew for Penn State Nittany Lions football games. He earned a law degree from University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1949 and was licensed to practice law in 1950. His legal practice focused mainly on general practice, and later estate planning, real estate, and government relations.He was elected to represent Allegheny County in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in a special election on November 5, 1963. He held that position until he was elected to represent the 45th senatorial district in the Pennsylvania Senate, a position he held from 1969 to 1988. During his political career, he held prominent positions on the Business and Commerce Committee, where he helped pass reform of the state's banking laws and the unemployment fund. He served as a trustee of Penn State University from 1978 to 1996, as well as a trustee of University of Pittsburgh. Zemprelli died on December 4, 2017, in Jupiter, Florida.

Fifth Down Game (1990)

The Fifth Down Game was a college football game that included a play that the crew officiating the game permitted to occur in error. That play enabled the Colorado Buffaloes to defeat the Missouri Tigers by scoring a touchdown on the last play of their game on October 6, 1990. The ensuing controversy cast doubt on Colorado's claim to Division I-A's 1990 national championship, which it shares with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. It has been called one of the top memorable moments and blunders in college football history.

Fumble

A fumble in American and Canadian football occurs when a player who has possession and control of the ball loses it before being downed (tackled), scoring, or going out of bounds. By rule, it is any act other than passing, kicking, punting, or successful handing that results in loss of player possession. A fumble may be forced by a defensive player who either grabs or punches the ball or butts the ball with his helmet (a move called "tackling the ball"). A fumbled ball may be recovered and advanced by either team (except, in American football, after the two-minute warning in either half or 4th down, when the fumbling player is the only offensive player allowed to advance the ball, otherwise the ball is ruled dead at the spot of recovery if the ball bounces backwards or spotted at the point of the fumble if the ball travels forward). It is one of three events that can cause a turnover (the other two being an interception or on downs, though the latter does not count toward the team's total turnovers), where possession of the ball can change during play.

Under American rules a fumble may be confused with a muff. A muff occurs where a player drops a ball that he does not have possession of, such as while attempting to catch a lateral pass or improperly fielding a kicking play such as a punt (you cannot "fumble" a loose ball). Ball security is the ability of a player to maintain control over the football during play and thus avoid a fumble. Thus, losing possession of the ball via a fumble includes not only dropping the ball before being downed; but, also having a ball taken away, or “stripped” from the runner’s possession before being downed.

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.

Muffed punt

In gridiron football, a muffed punt is defined as "touching of the ball prior to possessing the ball.”

A muffed punt occurs when there is an "uncontrolled touch" of the football by a player on the returning team after it is punted. This can occur when:

The kicking team interferes with the other team's right to catch the punt

A player on the kicking team is struck unaware by the football running down-field to cover the punt.

A player attempts to return the ball, makes contact with it but cannot retain the ball in his hands and it comes loose.

To be a fumble, the receiving team must possess the football, then lose control. In the case of a fumble, the ball is live and can be returned by the team that recovers the ball. In the case of a muffed punt, it is possible for the punting team to recover the ball and continue the drive, but at least in NCAA and NFL rules, they cannot advance the ball on that same play. Rules vary by league about how to handle a muffed punt.

Nonetheless, a muffed punt is a turnover. In the NFL, a muffed punt recovered by the kicking team cannot be challenged by a coach for review because all turnovers are automatically reviewed.

Official (American football)

In American football, an official is a person who has responsibility in enforcing the rules and maintaining the order of the game.

During professional and most college football games, seven officials operate on the field. Beginning in 2015, Division I college football conferences are using eight game officials, and the Alliance of American Football (AAF) began using eight game officials in 2019. College games outside the Division I level use six or seven officials. Arena football, high school football, and other levels of football have other officiating systems. High school football played under the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rules typically use five officials for varsity and 3, 4, or 5 for non-varsity games.

Football officials are commonly, but incorrectly, referred to as referees, but each position has specific duties and a specific name: referee, umpire, head linesman (or down judge), line judge, back judge, side judge, center judge (used only in NCAA Division I college football and in the AAF) and field judge. Because the referee is responsible for the general supervision of the game, the position is sometimes referred to as head referee or crew chief.

Official (Canadian football)

An official in Canadian football is a person who has responsibility in enforcing the rules and maintaining the order of the game, like their counterparts in the American game.

Punter (football)

A punter (P) in American or Canadian football is a special teams player who receives the snapped ball directly from the line of scrimmage and then punts (kicks) the football to the opposing team so as to limit any field position advantage. This generally happens on a fourth down in American football and a third down in Canadian football. Punters may also occasionally take part in fake punts in those same situations, when they throw or run the football instead of punting.

Quarterback

A quarterback (commonly abbreviated "QB"), colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line. In modern American football, the quarterback is usually considered the leader of the offensive team, and is often responsible for calling the play in the huddle. The quarterback also touches the ball on almost every offensive play, and is the offensive player that almost always throws forward passes.

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.

Codes
Levels of play
Field
Scoring
Turnovers
Downs
Play clock
Statistics
Practice
Officiating
Miscellaneous

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