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Today's Tidbit... 1876 IFA Rule #45: Own Goal Touch Down
This is #45 in a series covering football's original 61 rules adopted by the Intercollegiate Football Association in 1876. We review one rule each Friday.
The discussion of Rules 41 and 42, which defined kickouts and the procedures for executing them, already covered almost everything you need to know about the history kickouts, safeties, and touchbacks. However, since the 1876 rules were often listed in an illogical order, it is not until Rule 45 that we learn the following:
Rule 45: A player may touch the ball down in his own goal at any time.
Having already covered the issues surrounding players touching the ball down in their own goal, we'll turn instead to a rule that lasted for 21 years in which touchbacks resulted when teams did not touch the ball down in their own goal.
This oddball rule arose due to the introduction of hash marks in 1933. Before hash marks came along, teams attempting coffin corner punts preferred to have the ball become dead in the corner before going out of bounds since balls that went out of bounds were brought in 10 yards from the sideline, while those dying close to the sideline stayed there.
When hash marks arrived in 1933, many teams stopped trying the difficult coffin corner kicks and played the percentages, hoping to stop the ball anywhere inside the 10-yard line or even the 20. The result was that the receiving teams were often pinned deep, leading them to punt on first or second down, which made for boring football.
To reduce the frequency of pinning teams deep, a 1941 rule made it illegal for a member of the punting team to touch the punted ball inside the 20-yard line. Touching the ball led to a penalty - the play became a touchback. That rule remained in place through the 1961 season, after which the punting team could once again down the ball anywhere on the playing field.
Click the appropriate link for previous stories in the series:
Intro | #1 Drop Kick | #2 Place Kick | #3 Punt | #4 Goal Posts | #5 Goal | #6 Goal ≠ Punt | #7 Scoring | #8 Dead Ball | #9 Touchdown | #10 Tackle | #11 Scrimmage | #12 Ball Handling | #13 Dead Ball | #14 Scrimmage Ball Handling | #15 Run In | #16 Goal Line | #17 Boundary Lines | #18 Crying “Down” | #19 Maul In | #20 Maul in Pax | #21 Touch-in Goal | #22 Onside | #23 Offside | #24 Return to Onside | #25 Defensive Offside | #26 Throwing Back | #27 Knocking On | #28 Fair Catch | #29 Punt-out | #30 Punt-On | #31 Into Touch | #32 Inbounding | #33 Pushed Into Touch | #34 Right Angle Throw Out | #35 No Fair Catch | #36 Kickoff | #37 Kickoff Timing | #38 Change Goals | #39 Toss Up | #40 Loser Kicks | #41 Kickout | #42 Kickout Procedure | #43 Fair Catch Free Kick | #44 Free Kick Location
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