NFL says refs have discretion to penalize players’ snow angels


Sunday afternoon’s NFL action featured two snow games, and two players deciding to have a little fun by making snow angels. But only one player was flagged.

In Chicago, 49ers cornerback Rashard Robinson celebrated a big play by making a snow angel and was penalized. But in Green Bay, Packers receiver Randall Cobb also made a snow angel, and he didn’t draw a flag. What gives?

“I think our officials used some discretion there,” NFL Senior V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino said on NFL Network. “We do give the officials some discretion there and we don’t want to take the emotion out, and the spontaneity of the game. When you get to the 49ers game . . . the officials thought it was excessive and they flagged it. . . . I understand the questions about why is one snow angel illegal and one legal. But, again, the officials do have some discretion.”

Blandino added that the 49ers’ snow angel celebration lasted “a little bit longer,” although there doesn’t seem to be any clear standard for how long a snow angel celebration can last before a penalty flag comes out. It would seem that the NFL’s officials should have more important things to worry about than how long a player’s snow angel lasts, but it’s not the officials’ fault that the league has told them to make celebration penalties a priority.

Perhaps some day the league will come up with a clearer standard, such as treating celebrations like delay of game: If a celebration delays the game, it’s a delay of game penalty. If not, it’s not a penalty at all.

87 responses to “NFL says refs have discretion to penalize players’ snow angels

  1. The NFL rules committee needs to see a doctor about possibly removing the stick from their rear ends.

  2. So basically it’s completely arbitrary and Dean Blandino is getting paid millions to make up excuses for the League’s infuriating lack of clarity when it comes to penalties. Got it.

  3. “I think our officials used some discretion there”


    First, he could sound a little more confident instead of using the word “think” and discretion isn’t great either when there’s so many questionable calls lately.

    The NFL is going to have to give a handbook with a list of approved celebrations and how long they can last.

  4. Blandino is such an apologist….. How hard is it for the NFL to tell their part-time employees to be consistent?!

    Celebration penalties are a joke anyway when there are non-calls and wrong calls leading all the way up to the touchdown.

    Woohoo! Let’s celebrate the officials marching our team down the field for a score… and the NFL is debating why ratings are down…?

  5. Most of the time, the delay isn’t from the act/celebration. It’s from the player feeling the need to run 10 yard further down field to perform his celebration so that everyone (including a camera) can see it. a back or receiver gets a first down – he automatically has to go further down field before his unofficial “official” first down signal… a D-lineman gets a sack and has to run 10 more yards further back to do his sack dance. Meanwhile, the play clock has started.

  6. I don’t know what world some people live in, but this world isn’t perfectly black and white. Some cops will give you a speeding ticket for going 76 mph, and some will let you slide until 80 mph. They use discretion. This happens in every police department in America. Every umpire in baseball has a little different strike zone. Some referees in basketball will give certain players a little more leniency with fouls. Welcome to the imperfect world!

  7. Is it still a Snow Angel penalty if there isn’t any actual snow on the ground? Or is it subjective like it just matters that there was an ‘act of ‘ forming an angel? What if you formed a devil instead?
    you know… subjective…like a tuck rule…or a football catch…or pass interference…or…..

  8. Once again, Deano Blandino’s explanation is ludicrous!

    He constantly proves how under qualified he is !
    What a buffoon!
    The NFL should be embarrassed

  9. Yeah, kneel for the national anthem and that’s just plain ole American style free speech. But make a snow angel…might as well be…well….you get the picture.

    Maybe it’s a anti-religion thing with the NFL. Those evil angels.

  10. Amazing how hard these guys work to turn football into a joyless slog. Is it to make the car commercials more exciting by comparison? If so it is working.

  11. This league has to many rules, the officiating is so suspect , they can call this but miss have the calls on the field choosing when to call or not call violations.

  12. The favoritism shown to the Packers is pretty blatant. I know many Packer fans who admit it. And Cobb is a household name. The other guy? He’s a no-namer on a team destined for a top 5 pick. Of course he won’t get any leniency.

  13. Refs always give Green Bay the breaks; they love the cheeseheads and let it influence their calls.

  14. This 3rd down conversion celebration brought to you by Draft Duel.

    This quarterback sack celebration brought to you by Fan Kings.

    This stopping them for no gain celebration brought to you by Budweiser.

    This goal line stand celebration brought to you by Toyota.

    Problem solved.

  15. It isn’t a flag for Snow angels, it’s a flag for going to the ground during celebrating. Cobb went to ground during the play whether it was a defender or sliding or diving the make the catch is don’t remember off the top.lf my head, then made a snow angel.

    While the 9er voluntarily went to ground. That’s why there was a flag, on one and not the other.

  16. Somewhere in football Valhalla Pete Rozelle and Al Davis are either laughing or crying together.

    A snow angel controversy…only in Goodell’s NFL.

  17. The game is “no fun” if I can’t watch men gyrate their hips, thrust their pelvis, prance around dancing and make snow angles. I mean that’s why I watch the game.

    – A Millenial

  18. cuz it was a packer. thats why, pure and simple. any packer could grab a facemask and drag a guy 20 yards and no flag.period end of story. packers are THE LOWEST penalized team in the last 25 years. coincidence? nope

  19. “Discretion.” That’s another way of saying arbitrary and capricious. Which is the hallmark of the NFL.

    OTOH, Shaggytoodle above at 6:13 PM has a decent justification. To bad Blandino didn’t think of that.

  20. The fact that this is something that is even up for discussion is all you need to know about how far the NFL has fallen. This league is out of control and rapidly becoming unwatchable. Need to pull back and adopt a higher level approach that is more uniform and easily enforced. A snow angel is wrong or not. Decide.

  21. Oh, for Heaven’s Sake!

    The National Felons League, a/k/a the No Fun (allowed) League.

    No wonder viewership is declining.

  22. Remember. A few years ago when a player did a back flip and whiffed the landing and was flagged for it?

    This is practically the same thing where if a different does one player lands it and the other doesn’t one gets flagged and the other doesn’t.

    It is extrmemly nit picky and shouldn’t be a flag, but no favortism was at play here. As much as many of you conspiracy theorists like to believe there is.

  23. If the NFL is so worried about excessive celebration then they should cut immediately to commercial or replay with the touchdown signal….that would save some time and the players could enjoy their moment.

  24. When there’s snow on the ground, frolicking in the snow after a TD should be mandatory.

  25. Starting next season there will be a phone attached to each goal post with a hotline to Roger Goodell’s office. Any other celebration besides using that phone to personally thank Roger for his hard work will be a penalty.

  26. I thought for sure Cobb’s snow angel would draw a penalty, and even though I’m a Packers fan, it should have been.
    I just wish the players would go back and look at Barry Sanders footage. When he scored a TD, he’d hand the ball to an official and head to his sidelines. He had class, something many of these players lack.
    Making a snow angel is harmless and not that big of a deal, but the point is, the more you let these guys do, the more they will do. We’ll be back to players taking out Sharpies and signing autographs like that nitwit Terrell Owens did.
    Celebrations are fine, just do them on the sidelines with your teammates.
    By the way, I don’t like the Lambeau Leap, either. I keep saying one day one of the Packers will get injured doing that and then it’ll be over. And it seems to me that that should draw a penalty, too.
    It’s all about trying to make these players act like professionals instead of a bunch of refugees from the WWE.

  27. dabears2485 says:
    Dec 7, 2016 5:51 PM

    The favoritism shown to the Packers is pretty blatant. I know many Packer fans who admit it. And Cobb is a household name. The other guy? He’s a no-namer on a team destined for a top 5 pick. Of course he won’t get any leniency.

    Maybe. In case you missed it, this phenomenon is known worldwide as “the Jordan rules” due to the preferential treatment given to MJ. Were you upset with it then? If not, please find a seat.

  28. Simple really if anyone but a packer does it it’s flagged what’s new PI works the same way as does holding, facemask etc.. Got it now folks?

  29. Goodell & the NFL cause their own embarrassment and loss of credibility. The officiating has gone into the toilet. The obvious favoritism allowed some teams and the disadvantage others have almost look revenue related. SF isn’t the shiny object it used to be. GB is a media darling and league darling. Just in PFT you can read the hate & disdain for Kaepernick and it embroils the entire team.
    NE gets a player back without suspension, Oaklands left twisting in the wind for Aldon Smith. The League just looks silly.
    Maybe Odell is right about the officiating, and it’s just subjectivity or the team they throw the flag on. Or if the ref’s panties are stuck in his crack…maybe all of them should be full time. And have bank accounts vetted before & after games.

  30. vanislebob says:
    Dec 7, 2016 5:51 PM
    Refs always give Green Bay the breaks; they love the cheeseheads and let it influence their calls.
    ===================================Right. And MLB umpires love the Yankees, NCAA hoops officials love Duke, the Cubs are the darlings of the NL umps. It’s all just one big conspiracy.

  31. Lambeau leap. Never get flagged for it. It’s taunting if I ever seen it. I think someone should drill Rodgers for it. It would be worth the penalty.

  32. Referee discretion tends to lean in favor of the home team, and that’s just what happened here. And it’s just one of the reasons why Vegas gives points to the home team.

  33. When the ratings get low enough the league is going to be letting players make it rain with strippers in the end one in order to
    keep sponsors.

  34. abninf says:
    Dec 7, 2016 6:38 PM

    “The game is “no fun” if I can’t watch men gyrate their hips, thrust their pelvis, prance around dancing and make snow angles. I mean that’s why I watch the game.

    – A Millenial”


    I’d be curious to hear what Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, the Redskins’ “Fun Bunch”, Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, and Mark Gastineau, among others, would have to say about your comment.

    — a football fan, not a curmudgeon

  35. The CFL encourages snow angels. The talent level might not be as good in the CFL, but they do allow FUN!!!

  36. The best way to avoid getting a penalty is don’t do anything stupid. Just play football. Do all the drama stuff in the off-season. NFL refereeing is better than it’s ever been. These guys do a great job. The sport is the most watched event on TV. The fans are happy. The players are happy. The owners are happy. Everyone’s happy. There are always going to be a few Neanderthals that are mad at the world, but only the good Lord can help them.

  37. You have to be freaking kidding me. So we aren’t worried about the fact the playoff spots are being decided by inconsistent to poor officiating, but we do care about snow angels……….got it NFL, thanks for not relating to your fans at all.

  38. If only we could get them to call games fairly. If a DE gets within a half mile of Brady, we have a roughing call.
    But if someone slams Bridgewater, Taylor, or Fitz to ground, not a word is said.

  39. Sorry to spell it out to you conspiracy theorists, but the 9ers player stepped out of bounds at the 4 yard line and then started celebrating. the players should have been lining up at the 4 to run their next play.

    That said, a delay of game should have been called, which would have been a 5 not a 15 yard penalty.

  40. Mark Cuban was right: The NFL will commit financial suicide because of greed, and taking away a man’s chance to celebrate like a kid is ludicrous!

    I used to miss church for the NFL. Not anymore. I’m sick of the stiff-neck rules and bad officiating. Now, I watch on DVR and have a blessed time at church without wondering what the scores are.

  41. The Almighty Cabbage says:
    Dec 7, 2016 8:26 PM
    dabears2485 says:
    Dec 7, 2016 5:51 PM

    The favoritism shown to the Packers is pretty blatant. I know many Packer fans who admit it. And Cobb is a household name. The other guy? He’s a no-namer on a team destined for a top 5 pick. Of course he won’t get any leniency.

    Maybe. In case you missed it, this phenomenon is known worldwide as “the Jordan rules” due to the preferential treatment given to MJ. Were you upset with it then? If not, please find a seat.


    LOL…you assume I’m a bulls fan because my handle is “dabears”? I’m Wisconsin born & raised. I’ve watched the Packers get preferred treatment the last 20 years, live on TV 20+ times a year. It’s one of the many reasons I chose not to be a Packers fan. And, no, I’m not a Bucks fan either. The only thing worse than an NFL ref is an NBA ref.

  42. I believe the difference was that the Packers player was already on the ground when he decided to do it, which is more spur of the moment than the 49ers player going to the ground intentionally to celebrate.

    I’m not watching the game to see idiots preen. I’m watching to see my team play (and win). Cut the crap and play.

  43. Earlier someone mentioned that the 49er guy went to the ground to make his snow angel – penalty for going to the ground to celebrate – and that the Packer was already on the ground as a result of the play – no going to the ground penalty.

    This would make sense but it’s not what Blandino said was the reason. Blandino – the eminently unqualified – said the reason was referee discretion and perhaps timing. He doesn’t even know the rules of the game he supposedly manages.

  44. I love that people think that the NFL favors a particular team. I’ve heard it about the Cowboys, the Packers, the Steelers, pretty much any team with extended success. It’s nonsense.

    People that don’t like those teams lose their objectivity and hyperfocus on the referee calls that benefit that team. When the same calls are made for their team, you don’t hear a peep.

    It’s fun watching those buffoons get upset over something that isn’t happening.

  45. Frank: you might have something if the Lambeau Leap wasn’t such a profound exception to the rules.

    The NFL’s rationale is that it doesn’t happen on the field. If so, why is this the only dead ball game situation where players may enter the stands? If so, why are group celebrations illegal when you step out the back of the end zone? Let’s just admit the inconsistency here.

  46. The Lambeau Leap is inconsistent with the rules. It has been done for over 20 years and can only be done by the scoring player or it’s a penalty. It’s been a consistent tradition since 1993, so it was grandfathered in. I don’t understand why people whine about it, it’s no bigger a deal than some of the on-field celebrations, or the spectacle and fan interaction when Cam Newton or someone else goes over the end line and gives a kid a ball.

  47. People whine about it because its associated with Green Bay.

    I don’t know how many posts you have read on this thread, but people LOVE to whine about Green Bay.

  48. Opposing teams’ players also don’t get flagged for a Lambeau Leap after a TD if there’s a group of their fans right down front. It just happened. Your team’s players are free to jump up there if they score a touchdown.

    It isn’t that the Packers are allowed to do it… it’s that it’s allowed at Lambeau… for every team.

  49. And this is why Richard Sherman has been so vocal about the rules and the position it puts officials in. Bc the rule book is too complicated or overly specific some rules may or may not be applied fairly and Boom immediately you have fans running to the rule book to make it into some conspiracy against your team. That’s and concussions and some minor politicking are What’s really Killing the NFL.

    As a seahawks fan I see it all the time..people find some completely unknown obscure rule and fit some agenda. For instance last season when Kj right poked a ball out of the back of the end zone. The head referee came on POST GAME and said it should have resulted in a change of possession. Literally a rule no one I’ve ever heard of had ever seen or heard and I have played and coached more than 22 years . Something about the direction the ball was going even though it was a Seattle player and no one else even close to be able to recover. This call was pointed out after the game folks absolutely no one knew the rule only a select few were hoping it was some obscure rule. The entire week it was about how lucky Seattle got for cheating refs. That’s Absolute garbage if any player had atleast complained or said something about that might help that rhetoric. But neither team nor officials not commentators nor coaches knew anything about it until after the game then coaches whose salary and lively hood start complaining publicly bc what most fans don’t realize is almost all teams will take a win no matter how cheap when your talking about the big business of the NFL. Coaches are always politicking.

    Another example of over complicating the rulebook and something suspicious going on was The ATL vs SEA game earlier this year..why did NFL films show it as a Turning Point moment in the game as to show Shermans hand grab on the 4th down hail Mary by Ryan to Julio Jones to end of game. That’s all fine and pointing out how Sherman and or the seahawks got away with one, it fits the perception the league is clearly driving. But what is suspicious is why the cut film from a different play when it showed the beginning on replay? Yes I’m speaking clearly they cut a different play and Mashed it up with the play in question. REASON – bc Julio clearly facemasked Sherman at the L.o.s. And all this complaining that the ATL owner and coaches and announcers were doing was keeping the game talked about so they felt like it was consistent with that so they JUST CUT IT OUT. Bc the play would have had offsetting penalties. It was like 4th and 30 + from their own 25. The game would likely be over with offsetting penalties. Then Sherman comes out next week and is critical of the officials bc they allowed the Saints to literally tackle cbs on pick routes literally Tackling a guy it’s crazy to see it happen and not get called and it’s not even close it’s absolutely obvious. Sherman comes out and says the seahawks are unfairly getting targeted by something and people point to that play with Julio which again further shows unfairness.. I’m not a conspiracy guy almost ever but it really feels like the league is painting certain teams as bad guys ( Seahawks Patriots) to drum up interest. No objective person can explain why they would review a play and turn it into a 15 min special yet completely ignore the beginning of the play. Completely ignoring half the play when it would change every persons opinion who watched it and thought Sherman got away with one. The rule book issue has opened Pandoras box bc now we realize how much discretion the officials have always had and we can see its flaws and the NFL product or production is now not working the same.

    Want to know a worse rule and example.. Look up Fail Mary. By rule it was a catch.. BY RULE.. But he obviously didn’t have full possession nor did he gain it without the GB defender but BY RULE it was a TD for two feet /possession (mutual) /and being on the ground first /& being offense wins ties. It wasn’t just the refs fault it’s the damn rule book.. Common sense needs to be applicable but defining rules like this is the American judicial system is what leaves the door open for favoritism or some kind of collusion. Common sense needs to somehow be a rule.

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