Last week we learned about what constitutes an illegal forward pass. But a forward pass isn’t the only pass allowed in the NFL. There’s also the backward pass. Which should probably just be labeled the Not Forward Pass, as we’ll soon find out.
Here’s a definition that just might make your day:
Any pass not forward is regarded as a backward pass. A pass parallel to the line is a backward pass.
The first part would have a better shot at making sense if second part wasn’t there. Because the second part makes me want to come to a four way stop, turn right, and regard myself as going backwards, as per the definition. And also because a pass parallel to the line is actually a thing. It’s called a lateral pass.
And you wonder why football makes you crazy.
So for those of you keeping score: a pass that isn’t a forward pass is a backward pass. Even if it’s a lateral pass. Any direction not forward is backward.
And that’s Wednesday.
But not so fast! There are a few other details.
First, backwards passes are legal. There won’t be any yellow flag action for a non-forward pass.
Second, backwards passes circumvent the second pass rule we talked about last week. A player can throw the ball either backwards or sideways (which, apparently, is still backwards) and the player who catches it can legally throw the ball forward to another player since that would be the first forward pass. Second total pass, but first thrown forward.
This is most frequently seen when the circus comes to town at the end of a close game. You might have seen a team that is losing receive a kickoff as time runs out and try to advance the ball down the field backwards – one player throws it behind to another player who runs forward and then throws it behind to another player and so on and so forth. It’s all legal as long as the ball doesn’t travel forward.
In closing: may all of your progress be forward. And may your car understand you mean regular backwards and not NFL backwards when you put it in reverse today.