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Don't be a douchebag.
General Play Calling Rules
Formations: Use appropriate formations for the given situation. Don't call Punt Block or Field Goal Block unless the other team is punting or kicking a field goal. Don't use Goal Line (on offense or defense) unless you are inside the defenses 5 yd line.
Plays: Mix up your play calling on both sides of the ball. Don't call the same play over and over again. Don't throw to the same players over and over again. If you complete 25 passes, 20 of them shouldn't be to the same person. We realize one player might have a highly productive game, but if we see a pattern it is a problem. Try to sprinkle in a good mix of runs and passes, but we understand that if you are down by 40 you might have to abandon the run. Last season even the most pass happy teams only passed 65% of the time. The most run happy teams ran 54% of the time.
4th Downs: Only go for it on 4th down in the last 2 minutes of the half AND you are down. If it is the 4th quarter and you are down by 2 scores or more you can also go for it on 4th down (once you close within 1 score you can only go for it on 4th down inside 2 minutes).
We understand there might be borderline situations what if there is 2:15 left on the clock instead of 2:00 for example. What if are just outside of field goal range but too close to make a meaningful punt? Its fourth down you are up by 3, but there is only 3 seconds on the clock, should you punt or should you throw the ball up to run out the clock? Ask yourself, would the majority of real NFL teams on a normal day do this here? Is calling this play in this situation being a douchebag or taking advantage of some sort of AI exploit?
Fake Punts/Kicks: Firstly if you are faking a punt you should first see the 4th down rules to make sure you are obeying them, since fake punts only occur on 4th down the 4th down rules do apply. Try to avoid them and absolutely no more than once per game. This should not be a staple play you turn too all the time, or even every game. These are extremely rare in the NFL. Most teams only attempt them once or twice per season.
Onside Kicks: Once per game, only in the second half, and only if you are losing. Again use some judgment. If you are down by 3 scores with less than 2 minutes left and you recover an onside kick and score, your only reasonable chance of winning is to try another onside kick.
Play Style Rules
Moving defenders manually: Before the snap of the ball you can move no more than one defender manually. DL: you cannot manually move these players at all, this includes LBs that automatically line up on the DL. LBs: You can manually move LBs left, right, or backwards, but not forward. DBs: you can manually move DBs left, right, backward, or forward but only as far forward as the point where a non-blitzing LB would normally be. Don't drop an extra defender back into coverage on punt returns before the ball is snapped.
Drop backs: Within reason. No 20 yd or more drop backs. If you are about to be sacked do what you need to try and get out of the way, but don't go sprinting backward down the field at the snap.
QB Scrambling: Because we acknowledge that in today's NFL more and more QBs are scrambling we are intentionally leaving this rule flexible. If the new Read and React system doesn't respond well to scrambling QBs we will write a more restrictive rule. At the end of the day if you aren't being a douchebag and exploiting an AI weakness you are probably okay. In the NFL the best scrambling QBs only average ~50 yards rushing per game and only run ~7 times per game. We have a reduced play count than the real NFL so if you exceed these numbers don't be surprised if a commissioner comes a knocking and is carrying DB points.
No Huddle: Madden has never handled the no huddle well. Much of this is a result of the limited manner in which the defense can call plays on the field. Real NFL teams don't have this limitation. We aren't going to ban the no huddle completely but use it sparingly. The no huddle is best used late in a half and when your down big. It should not be used as an exploit.
Running up the Score: We want people to enjoying playing, even when losing. So use some discretion and common sense. Ask yourself, could this person reasonably come back within the time remaining? If you are up by a lot you should probably be running the ball and not airing it out. Up by 2 scores is not running up the score. Up by 5 scores is. There are also situations that aren't dictated by score. If you are up by 1 score and could easily run out the clock but you throw for a TD that is probably running up the score. But if you are up by 5 scores and your opponent throws an INT, you'd be a douchebag not to take it to the house. If you are up and the losing team isn't taking its timeouts late in the 4th quarter, this is an indication to you that the game is over and you should be running out the clock, not throwing the football.
Plug Pulling: Wow you are a douchebag. Don't do it
If a disconnect occurs in the game during the 1st or 2nd quarter and one team is winning by 21 or more points the winning team will be permitted to play the CPU.
If a disconnect occurs in the game during the 3rd quarter and one team is winning by 17 or more points the winning team will be permitted to play the CPU.
If a disconnect occurs in the game during the 4th quarter and one team is winning by 10 or more points the winning team will be permitted to play the CPU.
In all other scenarios an automatic replay will take place. In the case that both owners disagree on what the actual point differential was at the time of disconnect or they cannot agree on the replay conditions both coaches will receive a strike and the game will be simmed.
If any one owner is involved in more than 3 instances of disconnects during a season that owner may receive a strike at the commissioner's discretion. If it problem persists that owner will be banned, whether or not the disconnects are intentional. Disconnects are unfair to the other owners so if you are having issues take it up with your ISP.
Be on Time: Be on time for your games. If you have a game scheduled for 9pm that means the game invite should be sent out at 9pm. That doesn't mean you log on at 9:15pm and then go to the bathroom and then put the kids to bed and then start playing at 9:30pm. We are all busy people please respect each others time. If you are going to be late let the person know as soon as you are aware that you are going to be late.
Pausing Games: Try to take care of everything before the game starts. We know stuff happens sometimes and you may need to pause the game. If the game is paused on you give your opponent a few minutes before restarting the game. If you are wearing your headsets you should even know why the game had to be paused.
Clock Management: You should not be milking the clock early in the game. In general when you are ready hike the ball. Inside of 2 minutes in the 1st half you can start running the clock down. Inside of 3 minutes in the 4th quarter you can start running down the clock.
Penalites for Breaking Rules
Last season we ran on a pure 3 strike rule. This resulted in some people not getting penalized and other people getting over penalized for 'minor' stuff. This season we are going to overlay a demerit system on top of the 3 strike rule. This way owners will get feedback quicker on what won't be tolerated. This also means we will be handing out penalties more readily. You will notice the strike penalties have gone up as well. Play fair, play respectful, or don't play. If you're not a douchebag you won't have a problem.
Everybody will start with 0 Douchebag Points. Every time you display douchebaggery you will gain some DB points. The amount of points you gain will depend on the level of the violation. Repeat violations will double every time you commit them (so if you commit a 10 pt violation it will gain you 10 pts, next time it will gain you 20, if you do it again it will gain you 40, then 80, etc.)
Strike 1: You have gained to 100 DB pts or more. A two game suspension for your most productive player, as decided by the commissioners. This suspension will carry over to following season if necessary. If this player is no longer on your team in the following season and a suspension still needs to be served another player of the commissioners' choosing will take his place. Stat padding could result in a longer suspension at the commissioner's discretion to correct stat abnormalities.
Strike 2: You have gained to 200 DB pts or more. A four game suspension for your TWO most productive players, as decided by the commissioners. This suspension will carry over to following season if necessary. If this player is no longer on your team in the following season and a suspension still needs to be served another player of the commissioners' choosing will take his place. Stat padding could result in a longer suspension at the commissioner's discretion to correct stat abnormalities.
Strike 3: You have gained 300 DB pts. You're out of the league, douchebag.
Below is a list of infractions and the amount of DB pts you will gain for the 1st infraction:
Repeated whining: 25 DB pts (we want to know if there are issues with your opponent, at the same time if you have an issue with your opponent in half of your games than the problem isn't with your opponents. The problem is with you!)
Being under the 50 player minimum: 25 DB pts (some exceptions will be made to owners inheriting a team, or who are unable to participate in offseason FA. Make sure you are managing your team properly)
Not adding commissioners to your friends list.: 25 DB pts
Signing a FA illegally: 25 DB pts
Having to be set to auto in a nonemergency situation: 50 DB pts
No diversity in play calling: 50 DB pts
Failure to process a trade in a timely manner: 50 DB pts
Causing trouble on the chatbox/forum: 50 DB pts (becareful this is one that can get combined with other infractions or multiply very quickly)
Scheduling game but not using scheduling thread (remember that if not played in the first 24 hours both players are required to post): 50 DB pts
Not dropping an illegal FA in a timely manner: 75 DB pts
Not scheduling a game: 75 DB pts
Poor sportsmanship: 75 DB pts
Abusive PMs or Xbox Live msgs: 75 DB pts
Padding stats: 100 DB pts
Running up the score: 100 DB pts
Failure to bench suspended players: 200 DB pts
Quitting: 300 DB pts, Automatic removal from league
Commissioner's choice: This is for the creative sort who commits an infraction we didn't think of yet. Penalty could range from 0 - 300 DB pts.
Disclaimer: Because Madden NFL 25 is new we cannot exactly be sure how everything in this game will work. As a result we have intentionally made some rules less restrictive than they might have been in previous Maddens. These rules may be fluid throughout the first season as we learn what works best and what is broken. Regardless if it is written down or not, if you are being a douchebag you will be penalized.
Season 1: 8-8
Season 2: 12-4
Season 3: 5-11
Season 4: 13-3
Season 5: 10-6