All-purpose yards or all-purpose yardage is an American football and Canadian 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 onside kick recoveries, blocked punts recovered behind the line of scrimmage, and missed field goal returns.
Brian Westbrook holds the NCAA all-division record for career all-purpose yards, while Christian McCaffrey holds the single-season record. Jerry Rice holds the NFL career combined net yards record with 23,540 yards, while Darren Sproles set a new single-season record in the 2011 season with 2,696 yards. 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.
- "Top 20 Combined Net Yards". Pro Football Hall of Fame. 2006-02-22. Retrieved 2008-01-02.
- "All-Purpose Yards". Information Please Database. Pearson Education, Inc. 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-02.
- "Official 2007 NCAA Division I Football Record Book" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. August 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2008-01-03.
- "Individual Records: Combined Yardage". NFL Enterprises LLC. Archived from the original on 9 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-03.
- "2012 NCAA Football Records – Division III Individual Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 5. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
- "2012 NCAA Football Records – FCS Individual Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 3. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
- "2012 NCAA Football Records – FBS Individual Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 4. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
- "2012 NCAA Football Records – Division II Individual Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 12. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
- Miller, Ted (2015-12-05). "Christian McCaffrey does everything, including break Barry Sanders' record". ESPN. Retrieved 2015-12-10.
- 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. 2012-01-01. Retrieved 2012-01-01.