All-purpose yards or all-purpose yardage is a gridiron football statistical measure. It is virtually the same as the statistic that some football leagues refer to as combined net yards. In the game of football, progress is measured by advancing the football towards the opposing team's goal line. Progress can be made during play by the offensive team by advancing the ball from its point of progress at the start of play known as the line of scrimmage or by the defensive team after taking possession of the football via a change of possession (such as punt, kickoff, interception, punt block, blocked kick or fumble). When the offensive team advances the ball by rushing the football, the player who carries the ball is given credit for the difference in progress measured in rushing yards. When the offensive team advances the ball by pass reception, the player who catches the reception is given credit for the difference in progress measured in reception yards. Although the ball may also be advanced by penalty, these yards are not considered all-purpose yards. Progress lost via quarterback sacks is classified variously. Thus, all-purpose yards is a combined total of rushing yards, receiving yards, and all forms of return yards only. Some sources do not specify which types of return yards count toward this total because the most common forms of return yards are kick and punt return yards.
Football associations differ on their own specific definitions of the term. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, for example, defines the term as "the combined net yards gained by rushing, receiving, interception (and fumble) returns, punt returns, kickoff returns and runbacks of field goal attempts. All-purpose yardage does not include forward passing yardage" (at pg. 206). The National Football League (NFL), however, defines combined net yards as "Rushing, receiving, interception returns, punt returns, kickoff returns, and fumble returns". Neither of these totals makes clear how they record yards from blocked punts recovered, blocked field goals, and missed field goal returns.
Records by league
Pinball Clemons holds the Canadian Football League (CFL) record for career all-purpose yardage with 25,396 yards which also set a professional football record, while Chad Owens set a new single-season record during the 2012 season with 3,863 yards, which also set a new professional football record. On 27 October 2017, in a game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Diontae Spencer set a new CFL single-game record with 496 all-purpose yards: 133 yards receiving, 165 kick-off return yards and 169 punt return yards.
- "Top 20 Combined Net Yards". Pro Football Hall of Fame. 22 February 2006. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
- "All-Purpose Yards". Information Please Database. Pearson Education, Inc. 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
- "Official 2007 NCAA Division I Football Record Book" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. August 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 December 2007. Retrieved 3 January 2008.
- "Individual Records: Combined Yardage". NFL Enterprises LLC. Archived from the original on 9 January 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2008.
- "2012 NCAA Football Records – Division III Individual Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 5. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
- "2012 NCAA Football Records – FCS Individual Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 3. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
- "2012 NCAA Football Records – FBS Individual Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 4. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
- "2012 NCAA Football Records – Division II Individual Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 12. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
- Miller, Ted (5 December 2015). "Christian McCaffrey does everything, including break Barry Sanders' record". ESPN. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- In order to confirm NCAA records, one must examine all four official NCAA record books—FBS, FCS, Division II, and Division III.
- "NFL.com news: Brees, Saints continue assault on offensive records". NFL.com. 1 January 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
- "Pinball Clemons". Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
- Dunk, Justin (28 October 2017). "Diontae Spencer will give jersey from record-breaking game to mom - 3DownNation". 3DownNation. Retrieved 28 October 2017.