clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL Rule Change Anniversary: Radical Forward Passing Rules Approved

New, comments

78 years ago today the NFL approved a rule change that would allow players to make forward passes at any spot behind the line of scrimmage. Up to that point a forward pass had to be made at least five yards behind the line of scrimmage. Under Redskins' owner George Preston Marshall's motion:

"...that the rule covering the use of the forward pass, whereby it is necessary for the passer to be at least five yards behind the line of scrimmage before he can pass the ball, be changed permitting the passer to pass the ball from any point behind the line of scrimmage."

According to the post linked above, the NFL had its first 1,000 yard passer at that point. I'd be very curious to know what the average distance is behind the line of scrimmage where an NFL pass is attempted. You have guys taking 5 and 7 step drops as well as throwing from the shotgun, but then you have QBs stepping up into the pocket to fire off passes. I'd imagine plenty of passes happen between the line of scrimmage and five yards back, but I'm still curious about this.

What I love most about the link above is the image of the newspaper article from 1933. The title is amazing: "Pro Grid League Plans Radical Rules Changes." These days there are rule changes every year, but for the most part they are relatively slight adjustments to the game. Well, they're relatively slight as compared to the original rule changes related to forward passes. Will we ever see such "radical" changes like the introduction of the forward pass was back in the day? Will safety-related adjustments be the next significant changes to the game?