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โˆ™ 2010-01-25 23:18:26
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Q: Can a punt returner advance a punt that has bounced after he has signaled for a fair catch?
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If there is a fair catch what yard line does the ball go to?

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Can the punt team catch the punt if the returner is not catching the ball?

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How do you signal a fair catch in football?

While the punted ball is in the air the returner will raise his right arm straight up above his head and wave his arm and hand from side to side to signify that he is about to make a fair catch.

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What is the correct definition of a fair catch?

The "Fair-Catch" is an NFL rule that exists to protect players on the receiving team during a kickoff or punt. Prior to the fair-catch rule, on a kickoff/punt, the kicking/punting team was free to hit the receiving team's kick/punt returner as soon as the ball was caught, which certainly led to injuries as the returner is essentially defenseless and blind right up until the point he makes the catch, as he stands prone and looks to the sky to track the ball in flight.While it's still legal to hit a kick/punt returner right as the catch is made, with the Fair Catch Rule, the returner now has the right to signal for a Fair-Catch so as to avoid getting annihilated as soon as he touches the football. It's a tough job to be a kick/punt returner, because you not only have to track and catch the kick/punt, but you have to be aware of how close the oncoming defenders are to you while the ball is still in the air. If the defenders are getting close, the returner must throw his hand in the air and wave it, thus signaling a Fair-Catch, which makes it illegal to hit him once he catches the ball.The Official NFL Rule Book defines a fair catch as thus:"A Fair Catch is an unhindered catch of an airborne scrimmage kick that has crossed the line of scrimmage, or of an airborne free kick, by a player of the receiving team who has given a valid fair catch signal."In other words, on a kickoff or punt, the player on the receiving team that is going to catch the ball can raise his hand above his head and wave it, and this indicates he cannot be tackled or hit on the play (he's given a fair shot at catching it with no deterrent from the defense). Defensive players can run up close to the punt/kick receiver but cannot interfere with the flight of the ball or touch the player who signaled the fair catch. However, in signaling for a fair catch, the receiving team cannot forward the ball upon securing it. Once the ball is caught, the play is whistled dead. If a fair-catch receiver muffs (drops) the ball, it's live again, and the defense can recover it and advance it. If the receiving team recovers a muffed punt or kick, the ball is dead at the spot it's recovered.The NFL Rule Book's definition of a fair catch signal is as follows:"A fair-catch signal is valid if it is made while the kick is in flight by a player who fullyextends one arm above his helmet and waves it from side to side. A receiver is permitted to legally raise his hand(s) to his helmet to shield his eyes from the sun, but is not permitted to raise them above his helmet except to signal for a fair catch."Conversely, an invalid Fair-Catch Signal is defined as such:"If a player raises his hand(s) above his shoulder(s) in any other manner, it is an invalid fair-catch signal. If there is an invalid fair-catch signal, the ball is dead when caught or recovered by any player of the receiving team, but it is not a fair catch. (The ball is not dead if it touches an opponent before or after it strikes the ground)."Making an invalid Fair-Catch Signal is a 5-yard penalty. You'll sometimes see players sheepishly raise their hand above their head and attempt no wave, which can be confusing to the kicking team, and will likely draw a penalty. Returners are taught to emphatically wave their wand in order to avoid this. Of course, it all happens very quickly, so often there's little time to make a perfectly executed Fair-Catch signal.

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