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NFL Does Away With Five-Yard Incidental Facemask Penalty

Apr 2, 2008 – 1:03 PM
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Sportz Assassin

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Man, the NFL owners are finally doing some great work, right now. One of the rules changes that have come out of their meetings is eliminating the incidental face-mask penalty.

There used to be two kinds of face-mask penalties: the incidental foul netted a five yard penalty while the "personal foul" variety was worth 15 yards. The five-yarder is gone and that's a good thing. Now technically all facemask penalties will be worth 15 yards.

Ah! But that penalty will only consist of grabbing or twisting of the facemask. If you get your hand up there accidentally and not grab it, no penalty will be called. That helps to get rid of the gray area between what comprised a 5 or 15 yard penalty and penalize all of the tugging and twisting of face-masks in the same manner.

It also eliminates a dumb penalty that players can't help. Hands do get on the face-mask without malice, yet those were penalized. Many times players got their mitts up there and immediately released it ... but still getting the foul called.

College football did the same rule change a few years ago.

Now, we will have to see how this thing plays out. Will the officials just let the incidental face-mask go or will they just lump them in with the 15-yard penalty? Is the rule designed to not make that call because it was costly to teams and slowing down the game or to get harsh on everyone so no one even attempts to make a tackle above the shoulderpads?

We shall see.

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