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How many captains does an NFL team have?

Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes displays a C patch with 3 stars
Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes displays a C patch with 3 stars
Shane Henderson

NFL team captains are appointed by the team through a voting process, or selected by the head coach and considered to be leaders, both on the field and in the locker room. The NFL currently allows teams to have up to six individual captains, generally from different position groups. This rule is not strictly enforced, as multiple franchises have used seven captains in the past.

NFL team captain duties

Team captains in the NFL have practical roles on game day and are also generally considered the leaders of the club. NFL captains are easy to identify, as they will be the ones at midfield for the pre-game coin toss, and will have a special patch on their jersey denoting their status as a captain.

The patch consists of a letter C on the front of the jersey, and captains that have held their status for multiple seasons have gold stars under their letter C, one for each year that they've served in that capacity.

One notable example is Tampa Bay QB Tom Brady, who wears a captain patch with four gold stars and a gold letter C, although this is his first year with the Buccaneers. Brady was a long-time captain in New England, and given his established role as a natural leader, Tampa Bay gave him the respect of recognizing his tenure as a captain.

Tom Brady's jersey is adorned with a gold C with 4 gold stars
Tom Brady's jersey is adorned with a gold C with 4 gold stars

Any given team's captains are responsible for representing the team during the coin toss, but only one is permitted to speak. This player, known as the speaking captain, for obvious reasons, is the one who chooses from the options that the official poses. Except in instances of neutral-site games like the Super Bowl, where a special coin is used, the speaking captain from the visiting team decides between heads and tails for the coin toss.

If the visiting team wins the toss, the speaking captain selects between kicking, receiving, deferring, or choosing which end of the field to occupy. If the home team wins, the home speaking captain will make those choices. The losing speaking captain gets the remaining options after the initial selections are made. In situations for overtime, the coin toss happens again and the speaking captain makes more selections, occasionally as the only player to head to midfield.

Captains also have authority over choices that need to be made during the course of the game. On penalties that have the options of being accepted or declined, team captains have the ability to make those choices.


Edited by Ashwin

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