The Rules Are Made to Be… Claire Coffee

Football is one of those games that drowns in terminology and specific yet subjective rules, which are ripe for beer-soaked argument.

The second that yellow flag is thrown, watch your couchmates jump into action with “Holding! That’s holding. It’s coming back. Wait for it…” Quickly followed by, “No way, it’s gonna be a bogus roughing the passer call. Bears can’t catch a break this year, SUCKS!!”. The refs have the final word on enforcing rules on the field, but that doesn’t prevent a week’s worth of SportsCenter discussion after the fact. Witness the intentional grounding call that gave the Giants’ Victor Cruz a break this past weekend (many feel it should have been ruled a fumble, meaning the ball was live and available for recovery).

The rules of dating are also specific but subjective, ripe for Savvy-B soaked emotional debate (over cheese plate and heirloom tomato salad).

Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider wrote a book about it, in fact. It’s called ‘The Rules’. You’ve no doubt heard about this book or were given a copy by your aunt. I’ve bashed and hated on this book for many years without ever actually reading it, so this will be fun… let’s examine some of the most common fouls and their penalties in the NFL as they relate to the The Rules For Ensnaring a Husband.

Fein/Schneider Rule: Don’t Stare at Men or Talk to Much
Or else: “He will feel crowded and self-conscious. You’ll end up saying something stupid and forced.”
They also offer, “Maybe he’s thinking about how he’s going to propose to you one day. Don’t ruin his concentration. Don’t feel you have to be entertaining or have interesting conversation all the time. He will think you are trying too hard. Just be there!”
In short: Shhhhh…Wait for it… (what? wait for what, exactly? the only thing this advice guarantees is your waiter whispering to his buddies about the sad quiet couple at table 6 who have nothing left to say to one another so why don’t they break up already…or at the very least, this guarantees a right boring evening).
NFL Foul: Offside/Encroachment
Penalty: 5 yards
Offside is called when any body part of a player is beyond his own line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped. Offensive players must come to a set position before the snap, defensive players need to be on the correct side of the neutral zone (the area surrounding the invisible line where the football is placed, equal amount of space on either side). If a defender jumps across the line but gets back to his side before the snap, it is a legal move. Encroachment is a defensive penalty, called when one of the defenders crosses the neutral zone and touches an opposing player before the ball is snapped. Similarly, a ‘false start’ is called against the offense when a player jumps too early (before the ball is snapped). The football equivalent of ‘jumping the gun’.

Fein/Schneider Rule: Let Him Take the Lead
Or Else: “The man must take the lead or you’ll fall over your feet”
“He declares love first, just as he picks most of the movies, the restaurants and the concerts the two of you go to. He might sometimes ask you for your preference, in which case you can tell him”.
But tell him in soft, sweet gentle tones so as not to frighten him with information.
NFL Foul: Holding (Illegal Use of Hands)
Penalty: 10 yards
The NFL rulebook states: A runner may ward off opponents with his hands and arms but no other player on offense may use hands or arms to obstruct an opponent by grasping with hands, pushing, or encircling any part of his body during a block. Hands (open or closed) can be thrust forward to initially contact an opponent on or outside the opponent’s frame, but the blocker immediately must work to bring his hands on or inside the frame. Blocker cannot use his hands or arms to push from behind, hang onto, or encircle an opponent in a manner that restricts his movement as the play develops.
One of the more common penalties. It happens quite a bit at kick-off, when a member of the offense is trying to protect the receiver running up the field with the ball. Here’s a very special version of that. This penalty is tough to call because the difference between legal blocking and holding is sometimes subtle, but you definitely can’t grab a guy by the collar or forcefully push him around.

Fein/Schneider Rule: Be Honest but Mysterious
Or Else: He will lose interest in you
“If your date is at your place and one of your friends calls and asks how everything is going, don’t say ‘Scott’s over, I can’t talk’. That means you’ve been talking about Scott and he’s somehow important. Have interesting or popular novels or nonfiction books in view. Hide…any grungy bathrobes or something you don’t want him to see, such as a bottle of Prozac.”
Cool, I’m right now hiding my 9 bottles of Excedrin and this copy of The Rules but leaving my wall calendar open to 2009 and putting one phantom dog bowl in the kitchen for honesty and mystery. This rule sounds a lot like that deliberate ‘this is only a test’ radio interference on a previously crystal-clear radio channel. Speaking of interference…
NFL Foul: Pass Interference
Penalty: Automatic first down at the spot of the foul (when against defense)
Behavior that constitutes pass interference includes tripping, pushing, cutting in front of the receiver or pulling on the receiver’s arms before he catches the ball. Once the receiver has the ball, almost all is fair. A defender can’t interfere with a receiver’s ability to catch the ball…even though his job on the field is to ‘cover’ that receiver and prevent him from being able to catch the ball. It sounds confusing, it is confusing, and it comes with one of the most detrimental penalties. Once the penalty is called, the line of scrimmage is moved to the point where the player committed the foul, which is usually right where the pass was meant to land. If that receiver is 50 or so yards down the field, the offense has just won another 50 yards toward the goal, which is a huge score. Offensive pass interference is called if the receiver unfairly gets in the way of a defender’s opportunity to intercept the ball. The penalty for offensive pass interference is 10 yards. Here’s a poorly designed website with some surprisingly good specifics to explain further

Fein/Schneider Rule: Stop Dating Him if He Doesn’t Get You a Romantic Gift For Your Birthday or Valentine’s Day
Or Else: He doesn’t now, nor will he ever, love you.
“If you don’t get jewelry or some other romantic gift on your birthday or Valentine’s Day, you might as well call it quits because he’s not in love with you…A computer, one would think, connotes love, being such a costly item; but such presents come from the head, not the heart, and are not good signs of love at all”.
This is a ridiculous penalty to dish out for ridiculously histrionic values (wouldn’t you rather pick out your own damn necklace?), but I finally understand why they keep making those ‘He went to JARED!!!’ commercials.
NFL Foul: Striking or purposefully shoving a game official/Refusing to comply with an official’s request
Penalty: 15 yards and automatic disqualification for the player
This is a foul committed by a player who is acting emotionally and deliberately. When committed against a ref, the hit doesn’t have to be much, as you can see in this clip from last year.

Fein/Schneider Rule: No More Than Casual Kissing on the First Date
Or Else: He will think of you as just a physical object
“We know this is not an easy Rule to follow, particularly when you’re out with someone really cute and he’s driving fast in his sports car and kissing you at every red light.” My advice would be to go full tilt ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ on a first date, finding yourself atop a 17 mph tractor so you can make out while also moving bales of hay. Efficient! Romantic!
NFL Foul: Delay of Game
Penalty: 5 yards
As I mentioned last week, the team on offense has 40 seconds from the end of one play to start the next and snap the ball. If for any reason they fail to do this (for example – the play call takes too long to get from the offensive coordinator or coach to the QB), they will be charged with a Delay of Game penalty.

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