What rules are the rules?

I have been having an interesting back and forth discussion with Mr. Black of the CFL, it turns out that what we think are "the rules" are only part of "the rules". It seems that the CFL rules are sort of like our "Common Law" with a bit of the Criminal Code put in.

In other words, The rule book only lists some of the rules, others are based on previous rulings......

Here is my discussions with him:

[i]Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 1:35 AM
To: George Black
Subject: CFL Feedback: Which of your no yards answers is correct?

Officiating/Ask the Ref

On October 9th and October 11 you seemed to have give two different answeres to a question about "no yards".

On October 9th, you clearly stated that if the ball bounces, it is "automatically" 5 yards, yet on October 11th you say that a 15 yard penatly can be given regardless of if the ball bounces.

While I acknowledge that Section 4 Article 1 Part A does allow for a 15 yard penalty, there is no reference in the rule to a "deliberate"
entry of the yard zone. Could you please show me where in the rule book your statement of Oct 11th comes from?

I have commented on this website that your quick response to qustions are to be applaudec and while it is desirable to protect the kick receiver, phantom rules and contredictory statements only further the impression that many people have of a poor officiating environment! [/i]

From: George Black [mailto:GBlack@cfl.ca]
Sent: October 20, 2005 1:07 PM
To: CFL.ca feedback form
Subject: RE: CFL Feedback: Which of your no yards answers is correct?

If a player invades the zone and is within a yard or two of the returner, not giving ground when the ball is touched; or if he hovers over the ball or the returner as the ball is being touched, it is ruled as Interference woith a returner and is a 15 yard penalty whether the ball bounced or not.
This not a phantom rule. I am not trying to create conflicting statements. That is the way we rule on one aspect of No Yards.

In answer to a specific questions, I try to post the simplest explanation of the rule that I can. There are many many times that if a play is different from the one I am adressing, the subtleties and nuances of the rules get involved.
I wish the bottom line for everyone would be an acknowledgment that the officials know the rules, and apply them correctly 9999 time out of 1000.

George R. Black
Director of Officiating

[i]From: Lee
Sent: Monday, October 24, 2005 12:54 PM
To: George Black
Subject: RE: CFL Feedback: Which of your no yards answers is correct?

Thank you for your prompt reply. I can think of no other sport league where the head of officiating responds in the manner you do.

Now the but....

Still can not find the rule about "Interfering with a receiver" as you describe it... could you please provide me with the rule number?[/i]

Sent: October 24, 2005 11:42 AM
To: Lee
Subject: RE: CFL Feedback: Which of your no yards answers is correct?

It is an approved ruling.
Not everything is included in the rule book, although I am trying to include more rulings.
At the same time we don't want the rule book to become an encyclopedia in size.

George R. Black
Director of Officiating

[i]Sent: Monday, October 24, 2005 3:17 PM
To: George Black
Subject: RE: CFL Feedback: Which of your no yards answers is correct?

OK, now I am confused and possible shocked.... are you saying that cfl rules are like British Common Law???? Not Napoleonic Code....????

Does a rule book exist that coaches and others can refer to exist? Is it just a problem that you can not post it all on the web? Or does a significant number of "rules" exist as precedents, not written down as codified rules that can be referred to, but rather inferred from previous rulings?


To Lee

A very small number of "rules" exist in the form of 'approved rulings', or memos to clubs (coaches, players,and managers).
We have an officiating manual that assists us in governing some interpretations of rules.
The rules themselves frequently need interpretation.
Their application to situations which occur on the field is as critical as the knowledge of the actual rules themselves.
The combination of the two is what makes a good official.
The rules themselves have some general in nature statements and some very specific statements.
They will never completely govern all eventualities.
In other leagues they have developed casebooks, that get bigger and bigger every year.
We have made conscious decision not to go that route.
999 times out of 1000 we get the rules AND their application correct.

George R. Black
Director of Officiating

What part of it do you not understand?

"I wish the bottom line for everyone would be an acknowledgment that the officials know the rules, and apply them correctly 9999 time out of 1000."

.....I wish the bottom line for everyone would be an acknowledgement that basic math is essential..... :smiley:

Sounds pretty straight-forward to me. If a player unintentionally invades the 5 yard radius after the ball has bounced it is a 5 yard penalty. If a player intenionaly invades the 5 yard radius and interferes with the returner trying to pick up the ball it is a 15 yard penalty. Of course this is out of the discretion of the officials.

Not sure what this has to do with my post....?????

My initial post was a question about what seemed to be two different answers given to discribe what was no yards! Nothing to do with a particular team, just trying to understand the rule!

As I got further into this, I was suprised to find out that what is called the Rule Book on this site IS NOT THE FULL RULE BOOK!

Maybe you all knew this already, but to me it was a new thing....

I didn't know this, but I am glad you shared the response with us. It makes sense. You should indeed be penalized more if you just run through the kick returner than if you run-down to get to him, apply the brakes to try to give him the 5 yards cushion, but nonethless get too close to him. Bouncing ball or not.

The great thing is to know George Black cares about us fan getting a positive experience out of the CFL. Him answering to us directly honours him. Great guy.

Yes I agree!

I knew that there was an officials' manual, that we never see, that speaks of the application of penalties. (A friend of mine works with a CFL official.)

The 5-yard and the 15-yard penalties are both in the rule book that we know. How they are applied, I gather from what Mr. Black says, would be explained in more detail in the officials' manual.

The problem is that football has more rules than any other sport, and as such there are so many more things that can happen in football than in any other sport. There is no way that every possible eventuality can be foreseen and hard coded in the rule book. It's just not possible.

Big Dave is right, sometimes certain calls have never been called before or certain situations have never happened before so when one of those situations happen the refs have to get together and figure out what to call and that can set the precedent for situations similiar to that in the future.

The Tom Brady tuck rule is an example of this.

tom brady tuck rule???

In the AFC championship game, in the year New England won their first super bowl, Tom Brady went to throw a pass but instead of throwing it he decided to tuck it into his stomach, while he was doing that the ball was knocked loose and their was a fumble. Oakland recovered the fumble and was virtually guarunteed a spot in the super bowl. However replay overturned the call as an incomplete pass (allowing New England to kick the winning field goal) and hence the tuck rule was born.

If I could have thought of a CFL example I would have given that.

---It was the AFC Divisional Round game, not Championship.
---Brady didn't "decide" anything, it's football, you don't have time to decide.
---The Patriots were down 10-7. Viniateri kicked a FG to send the game into overtime, then kicked another to win it - in the cold, windy, New England weather.