The Unwritten Rules of the NFL

In this Nov. 21, 1970, file photo, Detroit Lions' running back Mel Farr (24) picks up a first down on a 13-yard gain against San Francisco in Detroit. Farr, the Detroit Lions' running back who rushed for over 3,000 yards in seven NFL seasons, has died. He was 70. A Lions spokesman said Farr's son confirmed his father died Monday, Aug. 3, 2015. After his NFL career, Farr went on to build an auto dealership business. (RAS/AP Photo)
In this Nov. 3, 2013, file photo, the roof is open on the stadium before an NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings in Arlington, Texas. Forbes says Cowboys are the first U.S. sports franchise to top $3 billion in value. For the eighth straight year, the Cowboys are worth the most of all 32 NFL franchises, valued at $3.2 billion. (AP Photo/Sharon Ellman, File)
In this Nov. 3, 2013, file photo, the roof is open on the stadium before an NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sharon Ellman, File)

Ty Schalter, BLEACHER REPORT

 
(BleacherReport.com) — NFL football is played by two sets of rules.

There are the official playing rules and casebook, available for anyone to freely read at NFL.com; the guidelines on everything from air pressure to zebras are contained within. The scoring rules, penalties and accepted interpretations thereof fill 120 electronic pages.

Then, there are the rules that aren’t written in any book. They aren’t downloadable from a website or watchable via any streaming app. Sometimes, ex-players talk about them on TV when one is broken—but fans are never really sure what they are, how many they don’t know about or if they’re even real.

On the field, in the locker room, even on the team plane, NFL culture is all-encompassing. The only way to get along is to live by the rules, and that’s why veterans take it upon themselves to teach every rookie class what you do, and what you don’t do, in the NFL. Sometimes, though, the only way to learn the rules is to break them.

Bleacher Report talked to active and former NFL players to figure out where the unspoken lines are drawn, how they’re delineated for newcomers and what happens to those who cross them.

 

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