Why does the illegal formation infraction exist?

The most exciting thing that came out of the Texans loss to the New York Giants on Sunday was that out of sight would be 53 yd catch that Nuke Hopkins pulled in.  It looked like is fingers had tractor beams on them and the ball was guided into his Lurch sized left hand before he corralled it to secure the catch.  I can even say that it looked like his fingers were 5 anglers all reeling in the same baby whale.  I know it’s a stretch but you get my drift.  It was all wiped away due to too many players being lined up on the line of scrimmage.  I never understood that penalty. I mean what significance does it carry?  Is it a matter of safety? Can’t be.  I don’t think anyone could ever explain to me why this rule exists without me giving them a blank stare silently saying, “I’m still not convinced”.

The 1st time that I encountered this infraction was when I was in 10th grade playing against one of our in district rivals, Cypress Creek Cougars.  Coach Hooks was trying me out at Tailback for a game because he wanted to utilize my running ability at another position besides my original quarterback position.  The QB that they brought up to replace me was having a bad game and we were behind by less than a touchdown.  With over a little more than 90 yards to get to the end zone and less than a minute left to get there Coach Hooks told me to get in and run the offense from behind center.  Since I was shorter than my O Linemen and had decent speed the coaches put in a sprint out/option package that allowed me to roll out and hitting crossing patterns.

We marched down the field as the time winded down until we found ourselves at 2yd line with only a few seconds in regulation.  The center snapped the ball and I threw a short slant to my Z receiver on the right side of the formation.  Touchdown, with no time left on the clock!  We WON!!!! Or did we? In the midst of celebrating I saw a yellow flag on the ground and the ref that threw it waving off the touchdown.  The penalty? Illegal formation.  Too many men on the line of scrimmage.  The Z receiver that caught the TD was supposed to be backed off of the line but unfortunately he wasn’t aware of that fact and neither was I.

I never knew that penalty existed.  Exhilaration turned into disbelief.  It was a true bi-polar moment.  The refs allowed us to have one more crack at it by putting one second on the clock.  Coach decided to take me out put the other QB back in.  He overthrew the tight-end and we lost the game.  I was too upset to even cry.  That was a long quiet ride back to our school all because of some unnecessary penalty that seems to have no reason to exist in the game of football.

Nuke Hopkins was deprived of 53 yards and 1 catch to add to his 6 catch 116 yard performance because of this rule.  One can say that he and myself should have shown the rules and this blog would not be necessary but Coach O’Brien echoes my thought process.    “We’ve got to do a better job of coaching that”, he said. I agree.  I was in High school when this inpractical infraction bit me on the backside but Hopkins is a pro.  He should know better, but I still say that he shouldn’t have anything to know better about since this rule shouldn’t be in the rule book i the 1st place.  I’m done complaining but the bottom line is that Nuke is a baaaaaaaad boy when it comes to his 1 hand catch game as the footage will show!


12 will now go Woo Sah

One thought on “Why does the illegal formation infraction exist?

  1. Great read! Not sure I agree that this rule is completely futile. I would like to think that it exist for a reason even if the reason is to define the structure of an offense and define the eligible receiver linemen each play.
    We can agree on one thing though…
    Hopkins is a phenom!
    I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a catch with a geater degree of difficulty.
    To the untrained eye, it may seem like your average one-handed catch, but you and I know better.

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