Hut! Hut! Hike!: Pass, Forward Pass, Complete, Uncomplete, Incomplete, and Incompletion
— The Hut! Hut! Hike! series examines the origins of football terminology and how the game's evolution drove changes in its vocabulary. The full article (#5 in the series) is available to paid subscribers only. —
Pass and Forward Pass
Passes were common in football before 1906 and the legalization of the forward pass. As a descendant of rugby, a pass occurred whenever a player handed or tossed the ball to a teammate. For example, the first football rules passed in 1876 included Rule 26:
Throwing back. It is lawful for any player who has the ball to throw it backward toward his own goal, or to pass it back to any player of his side who is at the time behind him, in accordance with the rules of on side.
Tossing the ball to a teammate positioned behind the passer ensured the ball went to an onside player (one closer to their goal than the passer). While some passes went forward, doing so was illegal, leading to the loss of possession when called.
Seeking to open up the game and give offenses more options to move the ball, the
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Football Archaeology to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.