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Safety Nine Yard Marks - 08/05/2008

Refer to Rule 1-2-3e (page 16) and 7-2-1 (page 59).

NINE-YARD MARKS ADDED TO FIELD (1-2-3e) AND PRE-SNAP REQUIREMENTS REVISED (7-2-1): Two separate changes were approved to help better determine the 11 legal offensive players in the game and participating by adding another marking to the field. These marks are detailed in revisions to Rule 1-2-3e and shall be 9 yards from the sideline, marked on at least every 10-yard line and become the point of reference for officials and opponents to determine the offensive players that are in the game for each down. These markings are not necessary for those fields that are marked with visible on-the-field numbers as the top of the numbers are top be 9-yards from the sideline. The specifications for both the 9-yard marks and on-the-field numbers are detailed in the rule.

The Football Rules Committee has considered various issues over the last few years to address substitutions and the balance between offense and defense. Teams were reportedly returning to previous practices of hiding players near the sideline, as well as attempting to deceive the opponents with various substitution abnormalities.

The change to Rule 7-2-1 will require all A players to be, momentarily, between the 9-yard marks (top of the numbers) after the ready for play and prior to the snap, and adhere to all other pre-snap requirements. The change should make the substitution rule easier to officiate. It clearly states that pretended substitutes, hide-out players, and other forms of using a substitute or current player to deceive the defense are not legal.

The previous rule requiring each player of A to be within fifteen yards of the ball was inconsistently applied, as it contained no easily verifiable fixed reference point for officials to administer, and potentially placed the defensive team at a disadvantage.

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