With multiple Week 14 games featuring frozen precipitation and an open-air New Jersey Super Bowl looming, it makes sense to make sense of the NFL’s rules regarding in-game snow removal.
The official rulebook never mentions the term snow. The league’s game operations manual addresses what is and isn’t permitted when it comes to snow removal.
For starters, and to clear up some lingering confusion regarding the situation in Philly during Sunday’s game between the Lions and Eagles, the field can be plowed at halftime. As explained by ESPN.com, that didn’t happen on Sunday because there wasn’t enough space to put the multiple inches of snow that had fallen during the first half of the game, and not enough time to clear the playing surface.
During a game, the following rules apply, as quoted to PFT by the league office:
1. Where possible, brushes or other appropriate clearing devices should be used to keep sidelines, goal lines, and end lines as clear as possible.
2. Under no circumstances will a Referee permit clearing by the grounds crew of a spot for a PAT or field goal attempt. It is permissible for players to clear such spots by hand or foot.
3. It is permissible to clear the 10-yard intervals, sidelines, goal lines, and end lines away from the direction of an offensive team during play.
3. If an offensive team is inside its opponent’s 20-yard line, it is not permissible to clear any 10-yard intervals behind such team that would give it a potential open spot for placement of a field goal or PAT attempt.
4. If an offensive team is going in for a possible score, the goal line can be cleared only if there is doubt on the part of the game Referee as to the location of the goal line. If it is visible, no clearing will be permitted.
The harder it snows, the more important these rules become. Clearing of snow can happen during a game by the grounds crew, especially when the action is occurring at the other end of the field.
Presumably, the NFL will have extra help available in early February, if/when (when) it snows at MetLife Stadium for the first open-air, cold-weather Super Bowl.