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NFL Coin Toss Rules

By Matthew Fortuna

In the NFL, coin toss rules can have a large impact on the outcome of football games. Whether determining who gets the ball at the beginning of the game or who will get the ball first in overtime, the coin toss is of paramount importance. The NFL coin toss rules are simple and easy to follow, and are even the subject of immense betting during the Super Bowl.


In the NFL, the coin toss takes that takes place before the game determines which team will receive the ball. A team can choose the ball, or can defer the ball and chose a side of the field.


The coin toss takes place on the 50-yard line, and includes the head referee and 3 to 6 captains from each team. When applicable, ceremonial guests may also be present.


The coin to be tossed is showed to both teams, and the visiting team calls the coin--heads or tails--once it is in the air, flipped by the head referee. The referee then allows the coin to reach the ground to determine the outcome.

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At the beginning of overtime, the team captains will again convene to call the coin toss at midfield. It is again the visiting team's call; the winner of this coin toss selects to receive the ball an overwhelming majority of the time.


Because of a botched coin flip call during the 2001 season, the referee has to confirm the call made by a player before the coin lands.

Time Frame

The coin toss must take place within 3 minutes of kickoff of both the beginning of the game and of overtime.

Fun Fact

Though there is no coin flip before the second half, the loser of the opening coin flip decided between the ball and which side of field their team is to defend. Most often, this team selects to receive the ball.

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