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If you grew up attending professional baseball games, you may have gotten a thrill out of bringing your glove to the game in hopes of catching a foul ball or home run. It happens quite often in baseball, and the ball becomes a great souvenir for whoever catches it.
However, if you grew up going to football games, you likely didn’t experience that same thrill as footballs just don’t fly into the stands like baseballs. However, there are some occasions where footballs find their way into the stands leaving fans asking the question: Do I keep this or not?
No, you can’t. NFL fans do get to keep footballs that go into the stands with just a few exceptions. These exceptions would be a game ball that was used during a milestone achievement or an incident where a fan stole a football.
Unlike baseball, footballs rarely find their way into the stands involuntarily. There have been cases where this has happened, but footballs mostly stay on the playing field unless a player voluntarily offers one to a fan.
So the next time you go to a football game, don’t expect to leave with a football unless you buy one from the gift shop. If you leave with a game-used football, consider yourself lucky. If you end up with a record-breaking football, you may be in for a big pay day.
Are NFL Players Allowed to Throw or Kick the Ball into the Stands?
Occasionally, you may see a player purposefully throw or kick a football into the stands in celebration of a touchdown. Although this happens from time to time, the NFL has rules against it.
NFL players are not allowed to throw or kick the ball into the stands on purpose. Doing so results in a first-time fine of $7,210 and a second-time fine of $12,360.
The purpose of this rule is fan safety. The NFL does want footballs flying into the crowd at unexpected fans. There is also a financial reason to this as well as it costs a lot more money to replace one football than it does a baseball.
Players who accidentally throw or kick a football into the stands do not have to pay the fine. The NFL has taken a few measures to prevent footballs from going into the stands. For example, there nets are erected behind the goal posts when a kicker attempts a field goal.
This net is taller and a little bit wider than the goal post. Therefore it catches any kick that is remotely close to going through the uprights. Sometimes, a kicker misses so badly that the ball travels into the stands. If this ever happens, the fan gets to keep the ball.
Can NFL Players Giveaway Footballs to Fans?
Many NFL players are very generous to fans, especially the young ones. Players sometimes give away their gloves, towels, and even jerseys to fans after games. Some fans are even lucky enough to get a game-used football.
Despite common belief, players are not fined for picking out a fan and giving away a football. The NFL sees this as a charitable act and does not punish them for it.
However, it is reasonable to believe that if players began handing out footballs left and right, the league may institute some sort of repayment for players who give away game balls.
Former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was notorious for giving away footballs after scoring touchdowns. This was known as “The Sunday Giveaway”. He was strategic in his giveaways as the footballs often went to children whose lives took unexpected turns.
There was a rumor floating around that he was fined each time he did this, but he was never fined for doing so. Because he would hand the ball to a single fan instead of throwing it into the stands, he avoided fines.
There were also rumors that he did this in order to claim charitable giving on his taxes, but this was not true either since he never actually had to pay for this act.
If you attend an NFL game and sit close enough to the tunnel that leads to the locker room, there is a chance you may receive a souvenir in the form of a glove, cleat, jersey, or, if you’re lucky, a football.
How Much Does an NFL Football Cost?
NFL footballs cost around $170. This is a steep price because of the authentic material used to make the ball. Each team is allowed to have 12 footballs on the sideline. This means that there are about $4,000 worth of footballs on the sideline for each game.
What Happens if a Milestone Football Ends up in the Stands?
If a game ball that was used to break a record or set a new milestone ends up in the stands, the player, team, or league will often negotiate with the fan to retrieve the ball. This happened a few years ago when Tom Brady threw his 600th touchdown pass to Mike Evans who gave it to a fan.
The fan gave the record-breaking ball back to the Buccaneers in exchange for another game ball and a Tom Brady signed jersey.
Are NFL Footballs Actually Made out of Pigskin?
While many fans call the football a pigskin, it is actually made out of cowhide. In the earliest form of the game, the ball actually was made of pigskin which is why many still refer to the ball as a pigskin.
Can You Buy an NFL Football?
Yes, a fan can buy an authentic NFL football, but they will pay the hefty price of around $170, just like the teams do. Fans purchasing footballs must be careful as there are several pretenders out there that look like NFL footballs but lack the authenticity.