Can You Answer All Of These Questions About Being An NFL Referee?


By: Gavin Thagard

5 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Pinstripes, small hats and whistles; a referee's uniform can be quite attractive for those who think they know everything about the National Football League. Do you have knowledge of all of the rules and other aspects of the NFL? Do you think you could take the place of referees, especially the ones who are always getting calls wrong? Here's your chance to find out with this quiz!

The NFL is one of the most popular leagues in American team sports, with thousands of fans watching each week to keep up with trades and game action. However, since the league was founded, keeping up with the latter has only become more difficult since the rulebook has grown significantly over the years, leaving fans, players and coaches in a position where they are trying to understand the calls being made. 

Maybe that's not you, however, and instead, you know all the rules. Maybe you could even do a better job at calling a game than the referees. Does that sound like you? If it does, then give this quiz a try before you go yelling at the television about a call. After all, if you can pass this quiz, then you can probably referee a game in the NFL. 

What's the line between the end zone and the field of play called?

No player has crossed the goal line more Emmitt Smith. He finished his career with 164 touchdowns.


How many players are on each side of the field?

The quarterback is usually the leader of the offense. He's responsible for making reads and calls based on the defense.


Can the defense get a holding call?

Derrelle Revis is one of the most dominant cornerbacks to ever play in the NFL. During his prime, quarterbacks wouldn't even throw to his side of the field.


Which player snaps the ball?

A center must have great chemistry with the quarterback. After all, a lot can go wrong from the snap of the ball to the quarterback receiving it.


How does a punt returner signal a fair catch?

Devin Hester holds the record for most punt returns for a touchdown with 14. He accomplished this while playing from 2006 until 2016.


What does the referee throw if there's a penalty?

The most penalties ever in an NFL game is 22. This record is held by three different teams.


What line separates the offense from the defense?

Defensive tackles have to be some of the most dominant players on that side of the ball. They are responsible for controlling the line of scrimmage.


Without a penalty, how many yards does it take for an offense to get a 1st down?

The best offenses move the chains methodically. This wears a defense down and keeps their own defense off the field.


The offense can change field position by doing what on 4th down?

The longest punt in NFL history went 98 yards. This punt came from the leg of Steve O'Neal.


How many yards is a personal foul?

Personal fouls can get players kicked out of games. Sometimes, they even come with a hefty fine.


How many referees are in a game?

All referees have their own jobs, but they are also responsible for communicating with one another. This helps to ensure calls are right.


How many points is a touchdown worth?

The most times a runner has crossed the goal line in a single game is five. This has been accomplished by five different players.


What happens if a defensive player lines up over the line of scrimmage?

Linebackers sometimes get called for this when they aren't used to rushing the passer. Of course, that's rare in today's game.


How does a game start?

NFL games last 60 minutes. A coin is flipped to decide who gets the ball first.


How long is the field, not including the end zone?

The longest run in NFL history went 99 yards. This was accomplished by Tony Dorsett in 1982, while playing with the Cowboys.


How many yards is a false start?

Many false starts are caused by crowd noise. One of the loudest stadiums in the NFL belongs to the Seattle Seahawks, where the crowd can be quite intimidating​.


How many points is a field goal worth?

The longest field goal ever kicked was 64 yards. This was accomplished by Matt Prater in 2013.


What's it called if a defender hits the quarterback after he throws the ball?

Cam Newton is known as a big and physical quarterback. However, that means he takes a lot of punishment as well.


What's it called if a defender catches a pass?

Playing from 1964 until 1979, Paul Krause was one of the greatest safeties in the game. He still holds the NFL record for interceptions with 81.


Which players on the field can recover a fumble?

Brett Favre also holds the record for most fumbles in a career. From 1991 until 2010, Favre fumbled the ball 166 times.


If an offensive player falls to the ground but isn't touched by a defender, can he keep running?

This rule is different than in college. In college, you're down as soon as you hit the ground.


How many times can a ball be thrown forward during a play?

No player has thrown for more yards in a game than Norm Van Brocklin. He threw for 554 yards during the 1951 season opener.


What's a pass that hits the ground called?

No player completed more passes in their career than Brett Favre. He finished with 5,377 completed passes.


How many yards is an offensive holding penalty?

Defensive ends are often the most difficult defensive players to guard. They are sacking machines, and holding is sometimes necessary to keep them from hitting the quarterback.


When is an intentional grounding NOT called?

Tom Brady is also a three-time NFL MVP. He won his first MVP award in 2007.


What's it called if a quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage while he still has the ball?

No player was better at sacking the quarterback than Bruce Smith. He wreaked havoc in the backfield, recording 200 sacks over the course of his career.


A defender can make contact with a receiver for how many yards?

Randy Moss was one of the most dangerous receivers in the history of the game. He was most known for being a down the field threat.


What happens if the quarterback throws the ball out of bounds with no receiver around?

Tom Brady is widely considered the greatest quarterback of all time. That praise is mainly associated with his five Super Bowls.


What happens if a quarterback is sacked into his own end zone?

A safety is worth two points. Many quarterbacks will take a safety by kicking the ball out of the end zone rather than having the defense recover it.


Can a defender hit the kicker while he's kicking?

This is a huge mistake that can restart an offense's drive. It's even helped some teams win games in crunch time. The kicker is free game after both legs have returned to the ground or the defenders have touched the ball after it's left the kicker.


How many offensive players must be on the line of scrimmage?

Only the furthest player to each side is allowed to run routes. Sometimes offenses will run unbalanced looks to confuse the defense.


Where's the ball moved to after a touchback?

The ball was once moved to the 20-yard line. However, in an effort to cut back on concussions, the NFL moved the yardage forward to keep the return man from bringing the ball out of the end zone.


How many defensive players must be on the line of scrimmage?

The defense will run various looks to keep the offense from reading what they're doing. Sometimes they will even stand their defensive linemen up like linebackers and move them around.


Where is a PAT attempt kicked from?

Offenses also have the ability to go for a 2-point conversion. This attempt is made closer to the goal line, though it's taken less often.


What is called if a return man tries to run the ball after making a fair catch?

In 1994, Robert Bailey returned a punt for 103 yards. That's still an NFL record.


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