NFL receivers signaling the ref that they’re eligible


Someone posted a quote of Rob Gronkowski saying: “I could come back as #69 and check in eligible every play, where the referee would have to go to the microphone and say ‘No. 69 is eligible’ every single play”.

Obv he’s being his version of funny, but the eligibility thing.. receivers have to check in every time? Or is that based upon position/number or type of play being run?

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Eligible receivers in the NFL have two requirements, but one can be waived

1 – You have to line up in a position of an eligibe receiver. That is a TE, WR, or back. That means your 4 linemen + center can never be eligible, and you must have those 5 players on the field at all times in those positions as rules of the game

2 – Your number must be in the range of eligible receivers — numbers in football generally say what position you are, in offense this is important as it allows the defense to know who can or can’t catch the ball. 1-49 and 80-99 are eligible (note: 90s are rarely used though as they are almost exclusively used by defensive players)

1 can’t be changed, but 2 can

In Gronk’s sentence here, is because #2 can be changed. However if you don’t have the number of an eligible receiver, you can tell the ref you’re coming in as a receiver and the ref will announce it so the other teams knows.