The birth of 4 down football

Interesting article from todays Sun about rule changes that helped shape modern American football.

[url=] ... entury-ago[/url]

With the passing game so developed now in the NFL, at least with the better teams, there really is no need for a 4th down and actually with the better teams, 3 or 4 downs I think is more or less irrelevant, they are going to get the ball to their go-to receivers either way and score. The "3 yards and a cloud of dust" that so typified American football for decades with conservative coaches with 4 downs has now gone by the wayside.

Good article though. Thanks Mat. Too bad the author didn't mention the influence of the 1874 McGill Harvard matches which McGill showed Harvard, and Harvard knew in Canada we were playing rugby which intrigued them and made them want to play McGill, that running with the ball was more exciting than the soccer they were playing. :?

Fascinating bit of history, Matelot. Thanks for posting it.

It makes me wonder when our Canadian field adopted the 25- yard endzone ("passing zone") as in the article. I know when we reduced it to 20 ... 1980s when BC Place opened and there wasn't room for 25 yards.

The passing game has really taken off this last couple of season. Can't believe the passing records that were set in this years playoffs. I think it was in the Wild Card game that a QB set a record with 6 TD passes, then in the next game there was a record for TD passes in the first half. 300 yards plus a game is a regular thing now.

Tom Brady or Peyton Manning and some of the other teams with decent qb's and excellent receivers sure don't need 4 downs to put up a lot of points, that's for sure. With excellent defences they get the ball back quicker if they were using 3 downs and can light it up even more perhaps.

Thanks very much, Matelot. I am still trying to find info re when U.S. colleges changed substitution rules to allow unlimited substitution. Late '50’s, early '60’s? I can remember watching some bowl game on New Year’s Day back in the '50’s and one of the teams (LSU?) had 3 full squads, all played both ways; 1 was called the Chinese Bandits

Before the change many players went both ways, and some did in NFL (Chuck Bednarik, Frank Gifford) and CFL (Joe Zuger, Bernie Faloney, Jackie Parker, John Barrow, Mosca.

One of the main reasons passing is up in the NFL is the rules interpretations that have allowed those numbers to go up.I'm talking about how it is almost impossible to actually cover a guy without getting a Pass Interference penalty...Or the overzealous calling of Roughing the Passer penaltiies(I actually think the CFL is worse in this regard!)...Or the Illegal Contact on a Receiver penalties,which carry automatic 1st Downs.

Frankly,I feel alot of these passing "numbers" are a bit bogus and are artificially inflated because of the rules,which in my opinion,have become far to weighted in favour of the offence.I wonder what a guy like Johnny Unitas would have done in this environment?Afterall,Unitas played in 12 nd 14 game seasons and still passed for over 40,000 yards for his career.And his era allowed for alot more contact all the way around.

What's happening with these rules is that,unfortunately,the game is changing fundementally(sp) and making it much harder to defend.I think these Roughing the Passer penalties and the Illegal Contact penalties have to be looked at...And they need to be changed to allow defenders to actually do thier jobs...

Yes, changing for the better! Making excuses like "the refs aren't calling interference" and it makes it" harder to defend" that's great for the game and the fans. I say let these guys play football, it's what we fans want to see. I don't want to cheer because the ref threw a flag. I wish the refs in the CFL could back off on pass plays and let them play, too many flags just slows the game down too and you lose the excitement.
Obviously the blatant stuff would be called just like it is in the NFL, I think that a defender should not be faceguarding or tackling a receiver before he catches the ball.

I agree. Excessive penalty calls slow things down unnecessarily. The way things are going, in either league, I can see the next step in the evolution: "This coach's challenge brought to you by Rona." Yikes!

I'm not sure what you mean???

Are you saying that less Pass Interference penalties would be better??

If so,I agree...Letting defenders actually defend would be preferable to what's going on at the moment!

Are you saying that QB's should be allowed to be tackled once in a while??

I agree,because at the moment unless you tackle a QB at the moment he lets go of the ball and only between the waist and the shoulders (and God forbid you tackle him in a forceful manner) a defender is going to get a Roughing the Passer call...

And don't touch a receiver downfield at all because that's PI all the way!!!

Don't ever tackle someone from behind because that's an immediate 15 yarder for "Horsecollaring"...

And don't hit a receiver coming across the middle unless you let up and basically guide him to the ground because you'll get another "Unnecessary Roughness" call on a "defenseless" receiver...

In otherwords,put the flags away...Stop changing the game in a fundimental manner to protect "star" players...Let'em actually play!!!

The last time I checked,everyone did have pads on.

All I'm saying is that the NFL is doing something right these days. Why the huge increase in offense? Is it because of less calls on the defenders? are the refs turning a blind eye to the pulling and holding? I don't know, but whatever it is the CFL should be studying and finding out how we can improve our game. As the saying goes "offense sells tickets"