Ask Farmer: Why do quarterbacks lift their legs before the snap?

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers signals with a lift of his leg.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers signals with a lift of his leg.

(Jeff Haynes / Associated Press)

Have a question about the NFL? Ask Times NFL writer Sam Farmer, and he will answer as many as he can online and in the Sunday editions of the newspaper throughout the season. Email questions to:

Why, when the NFL fines players for indiscretions, are the amounts in such odd amounts, e.g., $8,681; $17,363; $34,728? Simple math shows they’re not multiples, so why not instead, respectively, $9,000; $17,500; $35,000?

Liz White, Los Angeles


Farmer: First, it’s important to know those fines were jointly determined by the NFL and the NFL Players Assn. as part of the collective bargaining agreement. (Conversely, when the league fines a team, that’s not part of the CBA and is typically a round number.)

Back in 2011, when those player fines were put in place under the then-new CBA, they were round numbers, with minimums such as $7,500 for a flagrant facemask, $15,000 for a leg whip, and $20,000 for spearing. But per the CBA, those fines are increased by 5% each year, and that’s why the numbers have gotten so seemingly arbitrary.

What is the meaning of the quarterbacks lifting their leg up before the snap?

Dave Kelleher, Laguna Beach

Farmer: We see it all the time, especially with the traffic cop who wears No. 18 for the Denver Broncos, the quarterback gesturing, directing players this way and that, all the while stomping his foot. But it’s not just a Peyton Manning thing.

Explains San Diego’s Philip Rivers: “It’s a snap-count thing when you’re on the road, and teams do it different ways. Some teams have the guard look back, so when you lift your leg, the guard taps the center to say, ‘Let’s go.’ Obviously, different teams, and we do it, they change up that snap count. So sometimes we don’t snap it on the first time I raise my leg. We wait, and we do it on the second time. Just like you’d do a hard count if you were at home. Some teams have a center look between his legs and then they go off the foot. So all the leg-raising is snap count in the shotgun when you’re on the road.”

Quarterbacks also lift their legs to signal for a player to go in motion.



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