Statistics Saturday: Some Obscure Football Rules


  1. After three overtimes the game will be settled by a fifteen-word spelling bee.
  2. A regulation field is 120 yards in length, 53 and 1/3d yards in width, and 1.16 light-seconds in height, extending six feet, two inches below the surface of the ground.
  3. Any kind of zebra, whether talking or not, is specifically prohibited from playing in the Super Bowl.
  4. Team uniforms are not allowed to be chroma-key green.
  5. The zebra’s also prohibited from the Pro Bowl, Conference Championships, and the Divisional Rounds.
  6. No licking the ball after the two-minute warning.
  7. Yes, a zebra is allowed to play in the wild-card round, but only as a field goal kicker.
  8. All players must exist in no fewer than three dimensions of space and one of time.
  9. If by some chance the offensive team gets to a 7th Down that’s automatically one point.
  10. It’s a 20-yard penalty and loss of possession for four or more players on the offensive team to blep their tongues out simultaneously while behind the line of scrimmage.
  11. No player is allowed to wear his helmet either backwards or on either foot during the game. (However, this rule has never been enforced at the professional level.)
  12. It’s prohibited to use the player’s bench as a workbench for light carpentry projects.

Source: The Kaiser’s Merchant Ships in World War I, William Lowell Putnam.

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there.

6 thoughts on “Statistics Saturday: Some Obscure Football Rules”

    1. Good question and I just don’t know. King Features doesn’t seem to do much reprinting of ended strips, although they do keep Katzenjammer Kids, Mandrake the Magician, and Popeye dailies going. I would have thought that Piranha Club is just too small a thing to bother keeping on offering but then, well, they do still run the Popeye dailies and the last I heard that had six United States newspapers printing it.

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  1. If you decide to rerun this article or wish to update it to add the absent (rule 13. Any female kangaroo players cannot pass the ball to their pouched joeys) I found the perfect illustration for it while browsing some newspaper archives –the Nov.1st 1951 edition of the Tom & Jerry comic strip features T&J playing football against a roo and her child Waldo in which she does just that as Tom tackles her.

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    1. This sounds like a very sensible rule, although I’m surprised it wouldn’t already be covered by the rules about forward-motion. I have no idea what football’s rules about forward motion are, but they do seem to have them and they seem to cause penalties when I least expect them.

      Also I’m generically interested in kangaroos done in the Tom and Jerry style so I’ll have to go poking around some of the newspaper archives now.

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      1. Did you ever find the Tom & Jerry kangaroo? If you have a public email address you don’t mind sharing I’d be happy to send you some jpegs of it, I can be reached at the gmail address I log in with, I assume you can see it.

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        1. Oh, no, I didn’t have the chance to go looking about. And thank you, though. I can get stuff through nebusj at Gmail. It’s not much of an e-mail address, but it was easy to remember what with it looking like my older address from grad school.

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