Catch A Football in the Stands?

In one episode of “Everyone Loves Raymond”, the father catches a record-breaking field goal, game winning football. But, in reality, is this even possible? Isn’t there netting over the stands in vicinity of the goal posts to prevent this?

I’ve seen kicks go over the net occasionally.

The netting isn’t “over the stands,” per se. It’s a vertical wall of netting, a couple of yards behind the goalposts, and usually set up so that they can raise it during a kick attempt, and then lower it afterwards. See picture here.

And, yes, I’ve seen kicks go over the top of the net, too – though, those are almost always very short kicks, where the kicker doesn’t need a lot of distance, and kicks it high, so that it won’t be blocked.

That said, all of the above would apply to an NFL game, or a game at a big college. At a smaller college, or at lower levels, the net may not be as tall (if it’s even there at all).

The OP describes it as a “record-breaking field goal” – do you remember what made it record-breaking? If an actual field goal was a record because of its distance, it wouldn’t have been a high kick, and likely would barely have cleared the crossbar, much less been able to clear the top of the net.

On the other hand, it could also be for something like “most field goals kicked in a season”, in which case it tells us nothing about the circumstances of the kick.

Very true.

Regardless, despite the fact that it is, indeed, possible for a fan in the stands to catch the ball from a field goal, I wouldn’t generally look to “Everyone Loves Raymond” for sports accuracy. :smiley:

Also, a clip from a Monday Night Football game in 1995, with a particularly noteworthy example of catching such a kick:

NFL stadium tend to (always?) have nets, but college stadiums don’t necessarily. I checked a handful of SEC schools – South Carolina, Tennessee and LSU don’t have nets at all. Vanderbilt, Florida, Alabama, and Auburn all only have nets at one end (probably thanks to Allstate). Memphis (not SEC, but I went there, so I checked anyway) and Kentucky have nets at both ends.

(Everybody Loves Raymond sports accuracy thought: I thought it was a neat touch how sportswriter Ray named his twin boys Michael and Jeffrey after Michael Jeffrey Jordan. As it turns out, though, the latter of the twins is actually named Geoffrey and any similarity to Jordan’s name seems to be coincidental.)

Allegedly, it was record-breaking for distance. However, I wasn’t considering the trajectory. I was just wondering if, in general, it is possible at all.

Possible, yes, but terribly unlikely on a long-distance field goal – the successful ones almost invariably barely clear the crossbar, and don’t even make it to the net, much less having a chance to clear the net.

Some video examples:

The current NFL record, 64 yards, by Matt Prater (in particular, look at the camera angle at 1:11)
The old record, 63 yards, by Tom Dempsey – note that, at that time (1970), NFL goalposts were at the goal line
Sebastian Janikowski, tying Dempsey’s record of 63 yards