SECTION 27. Team and Player Designations

Teams A and B


Team A is the team that is designated to put the ball in play, and Team B is the opponent. The teams retain these designations until the ball is next ready for play.

Offensive and Defensive Teams


The offensive team is the team in possession or the team to which the ball belongs; the defensive team is the opposing team.

Kicker and Holder


  1. The kicker is any player who punts, drop kicks or place kicks according to rule. He remains the kicker until he has had a reasonable time to regain his balance.

  2. A holder is a player who controls the ball on the ground or on a kicking tee. During a scrimmage-kick play, he remains the holder until no player is in position to make the kick or, if the ball is kicked, until the kicker has had a reasonable time to regain his balance.

Lineman and Back


  1. Lineman.

    1. A lineman is any Team A player legally on his scrimmage line (Rule 2-21-2).

    2. A Team A player is on his scrimmage line when he faces his opponent’s goal line with the line of his shoulders approximately parallel thereto and either (a) he is the snapper (Rule 2-27-8) or (b) his head breaks the plane of the line drawn through the waistline of the snapper.

  2. Interior Lineman. An interior lineman is a lineman who is not on the end of his scrimmage line.

  3. Restricted Lineman. A restricted lineman is any interior lineman, or any lineman wearing a number 50-79, whose hand(s) are below the knees.

  4. Back.

    1. A back is any Team A player who is not a lineman and whose head or shoulder does not break the plane of the line drawn through the waistline of the nearest Team A lineman.

    2. A back is also the player in position to receive a hand-to-hand snap.

    3. A lineman becomes a back before the snap when he moves to a position as a back and stops.



The passer is the player who throws a forward pass. He is a passer from the time he releases the ball until the pass is complete, incomplete or intercepted or until he moves to participate in the play.



  1. A player is any one of the participants in the game who is not a substitute or a replaced player and is subject to the rules when inbounds or out of bounds.

  2. An airborne player is a player not in contact with the ground because he leaps, jumps, dives, launches, etc., in other than normal running action.

  3. A departing player is a player leaving the field, having been replaced by a substitute.

Runner and Ball Carrier


  1. The runner is a player in possession of a live ball or simulating possession of a live ball.

  2. A ball carrier is a runner in possession of a live ball.



The snapper is the player who snaps the ball. He is established as the snapper when he takes a position behind the ball and touches or simulates (hand[s] at or below his knees) touching the ball (Rule 7-1-3).



  1. A legal substitute is a replacement for a player or a player vacancy during the interval between downs.

  2. A legal incoming substitute becomes a player when he enters the field of play or end zones and communicates with a teammate or an official, enters the huddle, is positioned in an offensive or a defensive formation, or participates in a play.

Replaced Player


A replaced player is one who participated during the previous down, has been replaced by a substitute and has left the field of play and the end zones.

Player Vacancy

ARTICLE 11. A player vacancy occurs when a team has fewer than 11 players in the game.

Disqualified Player


  1. A disqualified player is one who is declared ineligible for further participation in the game.

  2. A disqualified player must leave the playing enclosure under the escort of team personnel before the next play after his disqualification. He must remain out of view of the field of play under team supervision for the duration of the game.

  3. A player serving a first-half suspension due to his disqualification in the team’s previous game may participate in pre-game warm-up activities. During the first half he must remain out of view of the field of play under team supervision.

Squad Member


A squad member is part of a group of potential players, in uniform, organized for participation in the ensuing football game or football plays.

Defenseless Player


A defenseless player is one who because his physical position and focus of concentration is especially vulnerable to injury. When in question, a player is defenseless. Examples of defenseless players include but are not limited to:

  1. A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass.

  2. A receiver attempting to catch a forward pass or in position to receive a backward pass, or one who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a ball carrier.

  3. A kicker in the act of or just after kicking a ball, or during the kick or the return.

  4. A kick returner attempting to catch or recover a kick, or one who has completed a catch or recovery and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a ball carrier.

  5. A player on the ground.

  6. A player obviously out of the play.

  7. A player who receives a blind-side block.

  8. A ball carrier already in the grasp of an opponent and whose forward progress has been stopped.

  9. A quarterback any time after a change of possession.

  10. A ball carrier who has obviously given himself up and is sliding feet-first.

Player In Bounds and Out Of Bounds


  1. Out of Bounds.

    1. A player is out of bounds when any part of his body touches anything other than another player or a game official on or outside a boundary line.

    2. An out-of-bounds player who becomes airborne remains out of bounds until he touches the ground in bounds without simultaneously being out of bounds.

  2. In Bounds.

    1. An inbounds player is a player who is not out of bounds.

    2. An inbounds player who becomes airborne remains in bounds until he is out of bounds.

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