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Why is a touchdown called a touchdown in the NFL?

Philip Marsh
Why is a touchdown called a touchdown in the NFL?DAZN
The name seems to contradict itself.

In the NFL, on the vast majority of possessions the main intention is to score a touchdown.

A touchdown is the most valuable way of scoring points, as each is worth six points as opposed to a field goal which gives the kicking team three points.

However unlike what the name suggests, the ball does not need to be touched down in order to score as it would in rugby.

So why is it called a touchdown? DAZN explains below.

How do you score a touchdown?

A touchdown can be scored by rushing, receiving or recovering a live ball in the endzone. 

The player scoring a touchdown must have possession of the ball, be within the field of play and the ball must cross the plane of the goal line.

If any part of the ball breaks the imaginary 3D plane which rises vertically from the goal line then a touchdown is given regardless of whether the player is in the endzone or if the ball touches the ground.

Why is it called a touchdown?

While today the ball does not need to touch the ground for a touchdown to be scored, that has not always been the case.

The first rules set out for the sport we know today as american football were based heavily off rugby and written in the 1870s.

At that time, the rules were so similar that for a touchdown to be scored the ball had to be grounded as it is in rugby.

However in 1889 the rules were changed so that possession of the ball beyond the goal line was enough.

Even after the rule changes the term 'touchdown' stayed, despite the obvious contradiction which the name still has to this day.

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