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Snow angel rule becomes the latest example of NFL ignoring its own rules

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On the surface, it was refreshing to hear the league’s senior V.P. of officiating explain that certain types of celebrations on the surface of the playing field will be permitted, based on the discretion of the officials. At a deeper level, it’s troubling.

It’s troubling because the NFL’s rules as written prohibit any celebration on the ground, with the exception of going to the ground in prayer. Snow angels clearly aren’t permitted.

Unless they are.

In harmonizing the decision of the referee in one game to throw a flag for a snow angel and the referee in another game to refrain from doing so, Blandino necessarily admitted that the league has a method for enforcing its rules that ignores the language of the rules. Which is a problem, for reasons well beyond snow angels.

At a time when the NFL is periodically accused of making it up as they go, the notion that officials have the discretion to permit certain type of celebrations that violate the rules reinforces the idea that the rules only matter when the NFL want them to matter.

Which means that the language of the rules needs to be changed immediately — or that the discretion needs to be eliminated.

This isn’t about snow angels. It’s about any and all actions that, based on the rules, constitutes violations but that, based on the enforcement, aren’t categorized as violations.

That said, it’s encouraging that the league is allowing players to behave more like human beings and less like robots. That needs to happen not by the seat of the pants, but by the process of changing the rules.

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41 Responses to “Snow angel rule becomes the latest example of NFL ignoring its own rules”
  1. liondoc says: Dec 9, 2016 11:31 AM

    the rules only matter when the NFL wants them to matter. Green Bay seems to break the rules when the NFL does not want them to matter for 20+ years

  2. thekiy says: Dec 9, 2016 11:32 AM

    Unwritten rule #1: The Packers and Patriots always get a little help.

  3. sportzfan says: Dec 9, 2016 11:33 AM

    I referee in another sport and we have only a couple of instances where you have “discretion” it’s called the “art of officiating” but the NFL takes this to a whole ‘nother level. So much gray area is what I hate about this league. This is what makes people think the games can be rigged.

  4. factschecker says: Dec 9, 2016 11:34 AM

    NCL. The No Consistency League.

  5. harrisonhits2 says: Dec 9, 2016 11:40 AM

    The league uses the refs to influence the outcome of games. This has been clear for years. The teams that are Roger’s little darlings get extra help.

    That’s why they don’t want to introduce things like goal line and sideline technologies that could tell instantly if someone scored or went out of bounds or not.

    Roger Goodell’s National Integrity League. Where corruption runs deep and double standards abound

  6. thereyougo2 says: Dec 9, 2016 11:45 AM

    What a joke the NFL is.

  7. chippys lost binky says: Dec 9, 2016 11:45 AM

    “That needs to happen not by the seat of the pants, but by the process of changing the rules.”

    It would be better if that process involved not making so many stupid rules in the first place. If the ‘process’ keeps allowing haphazardly enforced, foolish or ambiguous rules maybe it’s the ‘process’ that is the problem and requires scrutiny more so than the rules it pumps out.

  8. elyasm says: Dec 9, 2016 11:46 AM

    My understanding is that the snow angel rule is perfectly clear. If a player is already on the ground as a result of the play, they are free to make a quick snow angel before getting up and going to the sideline or huddle. However, if a player is on their feet at the end of the play, they are prohibited from then dropping to the ground in order to make a snow angel, as that is a delay of game or unnecessary celebration.

    If only determining what constitutes a catch was that clear…

  9. thereyougo2 says: Dec 9, 2016 11:46 AM

    No high fives, fist bumps or laughing.

  10. greg3117 says: Dec 9, 2016 11:47 AM

    I quit caring anymore, much like the dumb catch rules.

  11. thereyougo2 says: Dec 9, 2016 11:48 AM

    Everyone attending NFL games must where Goodell masks.

  12. chippys lost binky says: Dec 9, 2016 11:48 AM

    thekiy says:
    Dec 9, 2016 11:32 AM
    Unwritten rule #1: The Packers and Patriots always get a little help.
    ++++++++++++++

    PFT troll rule #1: Dog the team that’s better than yours

  13. sgcrys says: Dec 9, 2016 11:48 AM

    There already too few snow games due to warm weather venues and domed stadiums in some cold weather ones. Snow angels go hand in hand with a snow game, and have since my childhood watching football.

  14. exboomer says: Dec 9, 2016 11:50 AM

    The NFL is very arbitrary in enforcing the rules and they wonder why fans aren’t watching any more.

  15. factschecker says: Dec 9, 2016 11:53 AM

    thekiy says:
    Dec 9, 2016 11:32 AM
    Unwritten rule #1: The Packers and Patriots always get a little help.
    ———-
    Yeah Deflategate most certainly proved your point.

  16. traptses says: Dec 9, 2016 11:57 AM

    It all depends on the amount of snow. If the snow is deep enough and no grass shows, the player never touched the ground. However if even a single blade of grass shows, flag gets thrown. Simple logic

  17. bheikkila86 says: Dec 9, 2016 11:57 AM

    I believe the rule states that a player is not allowed to go to the ground in celebration after a touchdown. If the player is already on the ground when he scores the touchdown, as Randall Cobb was, then the rule does not apply.

  18. willyalistentothis says: Dec 9, 2016 11:58 AM

    The NFL clearly ignores rules. When two guys take a knee next to each other during the National Anthem, it blatant rule violation – yet has anybody seen a single flag or fine?

  19. plum54 says: Dec 9, 2016 12:00 PM

    “The packers and patriots always get a little help” ?
    Suspending TB12 because Mother Nature causes pressure in footballs to drop really helped! Helped the rest of the AFC , that is!

    Fire Goodell!

  20. mccarthyisamoron says: Dec 9, 2016 12:00 PM

    They’re going to need a celebration database.

    Hand football to fan = good
    Throw football to fans = bad
    Point finger towards Heaven = good
    Point finger towards opponent = bad
    Snow angel = good
    Humping goal-post = bad
    etc…

  21. ricko1112 says: Dec 9, 2016 12:08 PM

    The NFL still insists psi isn’t affected by the temperature.

    The NFL still insists repeated concussions cause no lasting damage.

    The NFL doesn’t know what a catch is.

    The NFL allows Denver, Indy, Baltimore, and the Jets to cheat at will without fear of any real penalty.

    Fire Goodell!

  22. hawks52 says: Dec 9, 2016 12:17 PM

    It’s been said already here, but it is very clear. You can’t “go to the ground” to celebrate. The Packer player (Cobb I think) slipped and fell during the catch (and maintained control through the process) and while he was there made a quick snow angel spontaneously. Not premeditated.

    If the SF game, both the guy who thought he scored AND another player went to the ground. I’m pretty sure actually it was the SECOND angel-maker that got flagged.

    Blandino probably didn’t know the facts and made things worse by his weird explanation, when there was in fact a very clear one.

    (BTW, I’m a Bear fan. I get annoyed at the seeming favoritism to Rodgers over other QBs. But fair is fair. This was not inconsistent.)

  23. johnodocks says: Dec 9, 2016 12:18 PM

    When you go to the ground in prayer, can you do a snow angel because that’s your way of praying to them? Or is Tebowing the only sanctioned prayer pose?

    How about players who do somersaults when scoring a TD, should that be a “going to the ground celebration” penalty?

  24. weepingjebus says: Dec 9, 2016 12:23 PM

    Integrity.

  25. joenash72 says: Dec 9, 2016 12:25 PM

    With Trump as President, better get used to “making it up as they go…”

  26. eustus says: Dec 9, 2016 12:26 PM

    Anything to make football football and not lawyerball, please.

    There’s already too many rules.

  27. hendawg21 says: Dec 9, 2016 12:31 PM

    I think we can all agree on which teams would be flagged for snow angels and which wouldn’t…and one would only need to look no further than the officiating crews for each game.

  28. stevejjones says: Dec 9, 2016 12:37 PM

    At least Browns fans have nothing to worry about.

  29. staffordisbetterthanyourteamsqb says: Dec 9, 2016 12:41 PM

    SHOCKED that Pats fans are making yet another post out to be all about themselves and their team. That never happens here

  30. dtroxallday says: Dec 9, 2016 12:46 PM

    Unless they are…

    Hasn’t that horse been dead long enough by now? Leave the poor thing alone already.

  31. medialovesthecowboys says: Dec 9, 2016 12:54 PM

    “Snow angels clearly aren’t permitted.

    Unless they are.”

    Still doin this, Florio?

  32. starrfavrerodgers says: Dec 9, 2016 12:56 PM

    Which means that the language of the rules needs to be changed immediately — or that the discretion needs to be eliminated.

    I initially thought Cobb wasn’t flagged because he was already on the ground (celebration wasn’t “going to” the ground).

    However, per the NFL rulebook.

    Section 3 Unsportsmanlike Conduct. Article 1, Taunting (d):

    Individual players involved in prolonged or excessive celebrations. Players are prohibited from
    engaging in any celebrations while on the ground.
    A celebration shall be deemed excessive or
    prolonged if a player continues to celebrate after a warning from an official.

    So, while the NFL may offer some discretion (that was apparently unknown), the actual letter of the law says that should have been a penalty.

  33. bigugly2005 says: Dec 9, 2016 1:03 PM

    I’m so sick of this crap. It’s an emotional GAME, let them celebrate!!!! I mean damn, who doesn’t love a good touchdown dance?? Read back that part about it being a GAME!!! Ugh…that is all.

  34. 6ball says: Dec 9, 2016 1:11 PM

    .
    @staffordisbetter

    ” SHOCKED that Pats fans are making yet another post out to be all about themselves and their team. ”

    ——
    Reading is fundamental. The second comment in the thread attacks the Patriots for no apparent reason. Others were simply defending their team and the truth.

    BTW…. If you are that upset with the Patriots, why not return your GM, Bob Quinn, to his original organization? Then, you can peacefully spend the next 50 years being the NFC North’s bar rag.
    .

  35. granadafan says: Dec 9, 2016 1:12 PM

    I’m all for celebrations, but if they relaxed the rules, the players would still take it too far. This upsets the old school conservative viewers who complain on sports blogs that “why can’t the player just hand the ball off like Barry Sanders?!!!!!!!!”

    Where do you draw the line? Outlaw all celebrations, which is the case now? If you allow all celebrations, you’ll have players try to outdo each other and become distractions such as running to the center of the opponents field, hiding cell phones in goal posts, taking sharpies out of socks to autograph balls, throatslashes, “machine gunning” teammates, breakdancers, choreographed team dances, slamming balls over goal posts and knocking it out of alignment etc. Will you all be happy with that?

  36. jayskiplanet says: Dec 9, 2016 1:17 PM

    Unwritten rule #1: The Packers and Patriots always get a little help.
    ==============================================
    The Pats get Help? The NFL not only ignored the laws of the land but the laws of science.

  37. Della Street says: Dec 9, 2016 1:22 PM

    thereyougo2 says:
    Dec 9, 2016 11:46 AM
    No high fives, fist bumps or laughing.

    _______________

    Hey, leave my work out of this!

  38. staffordisbetterthanyourteamsqb says: Dec 9, 2016 1:32 PM

    6ball says:
    Dec 9, 2016 1:11 PM
    .
    @staffordisbetter

    ” SHOCKED that Pats fans are making yet another post out to be all about themselves and their team. ”

    ——
    Reading is fundamental. The second comment in the thread attacks the Patriots for no apparent reason. Others were simply defending their team and the truth.

    BTW…. If you are that upset with the Patriots, why not return your GM, Bob Quinn, to his original organization? Then, you can peacefully spend the next 50 years being the NFC North’s bar rag.

    I guess your perception of “the truth” and mine are different. I just get really sick of the comments section in every post about league rules being ruined by crybabies. I’m sorry you have such a problem with that. Have a great day!

  39. staffordisbetterthanyourteamsqb says: Dec 9, 2016 1:43 PM

    Also I think you give me a little too much credit I don’t personally possess the power take and return NFL GM’s to and from teams. It would be pretty awesome if I did though

  40. tacowrecker says: Dec 9, 2016 2:29 PM

    Rules don’t exist to make game fair, safe, etc., Rules exist to maintain APPEARANCE of integrity while allowing plenty of leeway for League Office to fix outcomes, satisfy Vegas lines, and ensure that the money keeps rolling in from ALL directions, both legal and illegal.

  41. fennycourtney says: Dec 10, 2016 6:17 AM

    What happened to acting like you’ve been there before…

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