NFL adds 15-yard penalty for grounds crew clearing snow for a field goal

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Just before Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri lined up for a game-tying extra point on a snowy day last season in Buffalo, the Colts sent some sideline personnel onto the field to attempt to remove snow from the area where the kick would be lined up, and help Vinatieri get better footing. That was a violation of league rules, but no penalty was called.

That’s because at the time, no penalty could be called. As PFT noted afterward, the officials had the authority to kick the Colts’ personnel off the field, but they didn’t have the authority to assess a yardage penalty because the prohibition on clearing snow was a Game Operations Policy, not a rule.

Now it’s a rule.

As noted by Football Zebras, the 2018 rulebook has been adjusted to say that “It is impermissible for the grounds crew or other team personnel to clear away snow for a Try kick, field goal, punt, or kickoff.” The penalty would be 15 yards.

It only makes sense to give the officials the authority to do something about it if a team breaks a rule in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage. In the future, it will be a 15-yard penalty.

90 responses to “NFL adds 15-yard penalty for grounds crew clearing snow for a field goal

  1. Surprised Roger didn’t fine the organization.

    No, I take that back, the coin landed on tails.

  2. The Bills have never learned how to use home-field advantage after Jim Kelly left, hopefully that restarts again now !!

  3. A lot of times you’ll see the players in the huddle kick snow off the spot. Is that still allowed?

  4. Kicker should have the option for a 1 minute extension to clear the area himself………if he takes his kicking shoe and sock off and does it with just that foot then kicks it bare there after!

  5. Shoulda made it a 5 yard penalty. Then it would be an important strategic decision

  6. So, who will be the first to send their grounds crew out and clear out the snow 15 yards further back to kick a game winning FG in the Playoffs! LOL!

  7. Ok. I think I’ve got it. The kicker or holder has to perform in the snow like all the other players and make the extra point or field goal in the elements. If they miss the kick, too bad. It’s football. Maybe the extra yards they’ll have better footing.

  8. The Patsies are what Jack The Ripper was to serial Killer profilers. More cheating techniques discovered yearly and how to combat them.

  9. Nofoolnodrool says:
    July 6, 2018 at 5:40 pm
    Only some cheaters in NE would be upset about this.

    ————-

    Yeah….because having a coach trip an opposing player is widely accepted as good sportsmanship around the rest of the league

  10. Cue the “Patriots are cheaters” morons. When Mark Henderson cleared the snow on the FG that beat Miami, there was not a rule against it. Mark, a prisoner on work-release at the time, passed away a couple of years ago and took a wonderful piece of Patriots history with him.

    God bless Mark Henderson and his Patriots’ Hall of Fame snowplow.

  11. The rule states that the grounds crew or other team personnel can’t clear snow, but doesn’t seem to prohibit the snapper from jumping on the plow to clear the snow. I need clarification.

  12. Hmm lets see. The only time that has happened was in a 2001 divisional playoff game between the Patriots and the Raiders, with Adam Vinatieri kicking the winning field goal for the Pats. The coach of the Raiders was Jon Gruden, the new coach of the Raiders this year. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas. Coincidences? I think not.

  13. muffedpunts says:
    July 6, 2018 at 5:37 pm
    mark henderson’s snowplow hangs at patriot hall of fame!
    ———————————————————

    Shouldn’t that be in the Pro Football HOF? One of the most iconic memories of my childhood, along with “the Catch”.

  14. Can the players make snow angels as a way of blessing and praying their kicker is successful from that spot?

  15. graylingskies says:
    July 6, 2018 at 6:12 pm
    Hmm lets see. The only time that has happened was in a 2001 divisional playoff game between the Patriots and the Raiders, with Adam Vinatieri kicking the winning field goal for the Pats. The coach of the Raiders was Jon Gruden, the new coach of the Raiders this year. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas. Coincidences? I think not.

    ____________________________

    No…No…No. The article specifically stated this happened last year. The very first sentence. It even provided a picture of Vinatieri in a Colts uni. (not 2001)

  16. graylingskies
    Jul 6, 2018, 6:12 PM EDT
    Hmm lets see. The only time that has happened was in a 2001 divisional playoff game between the Patriots and the Raiders, with Adam Vinatieri kicking the winning field goal for the Pats. The coach of the Raiders was Jon Gruden, the new coach of the Raiders this year. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas. Coincidences? I think not.

    Actually that did NOT happen at all. The players on the field goal unit actually cleared the snow away for Vinarieri. Like most people, you don’t remember the real facts when it’s comes to the Patriots even though I’m sure you would swear to god that’s what happened

  17. Ding, Ding, Ding, we have a winner!

    nhpats says:
    July 6, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    Somewhere Don Shula just yelled at some kids to stay out of his yard

  18. Nofoolnodrool
    Jul 6, 2018, 5:40 PM EDT
    Only some cheaters in NE would be upset about this.

    And as usual, the first mention of the Patriots on a non-Patriots related article comes from a fan of a different team. Everyone says that Pats fan are always flooding their team’s article but as you can see it’s almost always the opposite

  19. phootbolgawd – these are the same people that believe the Tuck Rule was invented in January of 2002 and then abolished in February of the same year. Remember according to most people the Tuck Rule was only ever used during the 2001 Divisional Playoff Game between the Patriots and Raiders. They would probably tell you that the rule didn’t exist prior to the game and was made up during the 4th quarter too

  20. John Smith (lefty) kicked the extra point. The holder was Matt Kavanaugh. The game was not stolen. He might have made it anyway. Didn’t break any rules.
    ide
    I don’t know why Vinitiari is the only kicker everyone thinks of.

    Team personnel would include players. I’m on the sure side that they’re employed by the team.

    PS: It would be funny to watch a team clear a spot 15 yards back. But the other team might refuse the penalty. If you can think it, so will one of them and we shall see.

  21. razzlejag says:
    July 6, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    When Mark Henderson cleared the snow on the FG that beat Miami, there was no rule against it.
    _____________________

    Oh yeah I almost forgot about that game. ‘82, right.
    Wow! The Pats cheating history goes back pretty far.

    And I love how cheating has been so ingrained with their everyday fan base that they try and rationalize it and fail to see what is inherently unfair about what transpired that day.
    Classic Pats fan.

  22. The rule is a little too specific. Should include any altering of field conditions beyond clearing yardline markings unless specifically ordered by the officiating crew leader.

  23. The Truth says:
    July 6, 2018 at 5:53 pm
    The Patsies are what Jack The Ripper was to serial Killer profilers. More cheating techniques discovered yearly and how to combat them.

    #crybaby

    Again doesn’t it suck to know the “patsies” are better than whatever team it is you root for????

  24. Oh yeah I almost forgot about that game. ‘82, right.
    Wow! The Pats cheating history goes back pretty far.

    And I love how cheating has been so ingrained with their everyday fan base that they try and rationalize it and fail to see what is inherently unfair about what transpired that day.
    Classic Pats fan.

    #classiccrybaby

  25. wafflestomp
    Jul 6, 2018, 7:15 PM EDT
    razzlejag says:
    July 6, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    When Mark Henderson cleared the snow on the FG that beat Miami, there was no rule against it.
    _____________________

    Oh yeah I almost forgot about that game. ‘82, right.
    Wow! The Pats cheating history goes back pretty far.

    And I love how cheating has been so ingrained with their everyday fan base that they try and rationalize it and fail to see what is inherently unfair about what transpired that day.
    Classic Pats fan.

    I don’t think are really any rational Patriots fans that think that a guy coming into the field with a giant snow brush to clear off the area the kicker was attempting to use was on the up and up. That should have never been allowed and the fact that the league never penalized them or even tried to stop it while it was happening is even crazier. There’s no way in hell that should have ever happened during a professional football game or any game for that matter. Just think if a team tried to do that now? People thought it was ridiculous that an official used an index card to measure a first down, can you imagine a guy driving onto the field with a snow plow and removing snow to benefit the home team?! People would lose their minds, and rightfully so. The fact that it ever took place is ridiculous

  26. Amazing another example of Patriots “cheating” when there is no rule against it

    Snowplowgate – no rule
    spygate – no rule
    Deflategate – no rule against whatever may have more than likely not have happened
    Tuck rule – rule properly applied

    Wow!! Not breaking rules and still “cheating”

  27. As a side note to any Raider fans still whining about the properly applied Tuck Rule:
    The first “victim” of the new rule were the Pats, after it gifted Jets a narrow win. That win also meant Raiders were home those Jets in the Wildcard instead of the (then AFC) Seahawks who had split the 2 reg season games with Raiders and would have been a much tougher prospect. Somehow, still-salty Raider fans nearly 2 decades later keep overlooking that Inconvenient Truth. Much like they forget Al Davis’ 2 golden “Raider Rules” of football, which Matt Millen said was pinned up in their locker: 1) Cheating is encouraged, 2) See rule #1

  28. Did the NFL watch a replay of the Colts at Bills game from last year where they had like 2 feet of snow during the game before they made this rule??

  29. The operative phrase is “ground crew clearing” I believe in the Vinateri case players cleared the spot with their cleats..

  30. Flash1287 says:
    July 6, 2018 at 7:26 pm
    Oh yeah I almost forgot about that game. ‘82, right.
    Wow! The Pats cheating history goes back pretty far.

    And I love how cheating has been so ingrained with their everyday fan base that they try and rationalize it and fail to see what is inherently unfair about what transpired that day.
    Classic Pats fan.

    #classiccrybaby
    ______________

    No, I’m not a crybaby.
    Nor am I jealous or any of the other adjectives you use when someone disagrees with your fan base.

    I have no dog in this fight.
    I’m not a Dolphin fan, nor am I a fan of any team in the AFC East.
    In fact, I’m a Packers fan.

    A couple of seasons ago, the Packers and Aaron Rodgers beat the Detroit Lions on a Hail Mary pass that occurred on a last play of the game.
    The play happened because of an untimed down after a face masking penalty on the QB.
    Replays showed that it was obvious that no penalty occurred, but because of the placement of the defenders hand and the movement of the QBs head it looked like a penalty in real time.
    Now, you will find no self respecting Packer fan trying to rationalize that penalty or that win that day.
    It shouldn’t have happened.
    But that’s football.
    I’m a huge fan, but I can also take an unbiased look and an honest assessment of what happened that day.

    I say Classic Pats fan, because that’s all I ever hear from your fan base, justification and rationalization time and time again.
    Your brethren can’t even see or admit the inherently unfair advantage your team took to use a snowplow to make the home team’s game winning kick more feasible.
    An advantage the Dolphins would never have jbeen afforded.

    It doesn’t make you any less of a fan to take a good, honest and unbiased look at your team from time to time.
    Some would even say it’s healthy.

  31. agent7x6 says:
    July 6, 2018 at 6:07 pm
    The rule states that the grounds crew or other team personnel can’t clear snow, but doesn’t seem to prohibit the snapper from jumping on the plow to clear the snow. I need clarification.
    ———-
    Wouldn’t the players be considered Team Personnel?

  32. Who gets the penalty? The home team or the kicking team?

    Miami at Buffalo and it’s snowing, week 17, 3 seconds left with Miami at the Buffalo 30 … Miami is ready to attempt a field goal for the win. Suddenly the grounds crew zips across the field clearing a spot in the snow for the Miami kicker …

    Who gets the penalty? Is Miami now at the 45 or the 15?

  33. This article confused me (easily done) until I followed the link and found:

    A common practice where kicking team players gather together to clear a space for the kicker to boot a field goal with their shoes is still legal. This rule just prohibits non-players from assisting the kicker in this way.

  34. what’s amazing to me is how many people continue to refuse to use their brains, and claim all this stuff as if it is a fact- your facts are not straight, understand the rules, understand how the judgement is rendered and what actually constitutes a violation- until you do that you lose all credibility- PLEASE use your brains, and stop latching onto tripe that now becomes labeled fake news- I beg of you to do so, not because of football but because football (and it’s fans) are a reflection of our society- right now america and americans look like some of the dumbest people on the planet- is that really how to make america great again?

  35. You know what fans really enjoy?

    Rules, lots of rules and constant rule changes. Adding rules and tweaking rules. Then changing the rules that they just changed then promising to look into the other rules. Yeah, fans love that. Good thing the NFL has lots of em. Ambiguous rules, murky rules, rules they sometimes enforce, rules even refs don’t know, rules that can be reviewed, rules that can’t be reviewed, flags on every other play because of rules.

    Yeah rules! Can’t wait.

  36. Frankly, I don’t see why they don’t just make it legal for a grounds crew to clear out some snow for a kick, as long as it’s done during a time out and doesn’t delay the game.

  37. I’m happy there aren’t any snow games in Dallas or Houston. No controversy or penalties there.

  38. You know as a Buffalo fan we have put up with a lot crap. However, we could not really say anything
    because we respect Brady/Belichick but after all these years of there great results but, they are cheaters
    and anyone who tries to deny it are lying to themselves!

  39. Wafflestomp – I thought my response to you was the kind of rationalization you were looking for. Most Pats fans are just like you and I where they can understand what is really going on. I think what happens is the idiotic people tend to shout the loudest and the longest and so it seems like a lot of people are being totally irrational when they’re really the minority. I think you can agree that there are these types of fans in every fanbase. It doesn’t matter what you say or how convincing you might be they’re just never going to get it. That’s what makes them idiotic

  40. It might be worth it to take a 15 yard penalty to use snow clearing equipment like sometimes when you take an intentional delay of game penalty…

    but some fans (patriots haters) will cry over it.

  41. boyso3 says:
    July 6, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    phootbolgawd – these are the same people that believe the Tuck Rule was invented in January of 2002 and then abolished in February of the same year. Remember according to most people the Tuck Rule was only ever used during the 2001 Divisional Playoff Game between the Patriots and Raiders.

    “They would probably tell you that the rule didn’t exist prior to the game and was made up during the 4th quarter too”

    ___________________________

    This last line is interesting because the during the most recent NFL game played, the NFL, Fraudger and the 345 Park Ave cabal DID change the rules before the seasons biggest game. They changed the catch rule to favor Corey Clement and the Phila Iggles.

    After handing the Lombardi to Brady for a 5th time a couple years ago, you can be dang sure Fraudger would do anything to avoid that happening for a 6th time last Feb.
    So change the rules for the SB, roll the dice and hope it favors the Iggles.
    And it did…

  42. So, if you are the home team, does that mean you can run out to try to clear the snow for a visiting team FG attempt and get them assessed a penalty?

  43. Patriots were the first team to do this. In an game vs the Dolphins in (I believe) 1983. Ron Meyer was Patriots coach at the time.

    The guy who plowed the snow was an inmate out on a weekend furlough (Not Willie Horton).

  44. pauldeba says:
    July 6, 2018 at 7:28 pm
    Amazing another example of Patriots “cheating” when there is no rule against it

    Snowplowgate – no rule WRONG Against the rules and NOT allowed but no penalty
    spygate – no rule WRONG Can only video from certain locations (Pats were in the wrong location)
    Deflategate – no rule against whatever may have more than likely not have happened WRONG Balls must be in a certain range of pressure according to NFL rules and (Read the text messages AND the Pats fired the guy)

    You are so confused Paul!! Coaches like him require the NFL to include a penalty as well because he is not man enough just to follow the rules. Next year when he has no Brady we sill see what kind of coach he is.

  45. If you do it with a snowplow, just start at the current kick spot and plow 15 yards towards the opposite end zone.

    I hope the rule is written better then we seem to think it is.

  46. Nofoolnodrool says:
    July 6, 2018 at 5:40 pm
    Only some cheaters in NE would be upset about this.

    —————————-
    Buffalo, the team they were playing, is not in an area considered part of New England even if its not that far away. And they werent cheating either. Neither was Indy. If you read and comprehend the article then you will come to understand what they did was legal before today.

  47. wafflestomp says:
    July 6, 2018 at 8:06 pm
    Flash1287 says:
    July 6, 2018 at 7:26 pm
    Oh yeah I almost forgot about that game. ‘82, right.
    Wow! The Pats cheating history goes back pretty far.

    And I love how cheating has been so ingrained with their everyday fan base that they try and rationalize it and fail to see what is inherently unfair about what transpired that day.
    Classic Pats fan.

    #classiccrybaby
    ______________

    No, I’m not a crybaby.
    Nor am I jealous or any of the other adjectives you use when someone disagrees with your fan base.

    I have no dog in this fight.
    I’m not a Dolphin fan, nor am I a fan of any team in the AFC East.
    In fact, I’m a Packers fan.

    A couple of seasons ago, the Packers and Aaron Rodgers beat the Detroit Lions on a Hail Mary pass that occurred on a last play of the game.
    The play happened because of an untimed down after a face masking penalty on the QB.
    Replays showed that it was obvious that no penalty occurred, but because of the placement of the defenders hand and the movement of the QBs head it looked like a penalty in real time.
    Now, you will find no self respecting Packer fan trying to rationalize that penalty or that win that day.
    It shouldn’t have happened.
    But that’s football.
    I’m a huge fan, but I can also take an unbiased look and an honest assessment of what happened that day.

    I say Classic Pats fan, because that’s all I ever hear from your fan base, justification and rationalization time and time again.
    Your brethren can’t even see or admit the inherently unfair advantage your team took to use a snowplow to make the home team’s game winning kick more feasible.
    An advantage the Dolphins would never have jbeen afforded.

    It doesn’t make you any less of a fan to take a good, honest and unbiased look at your team from time to time.
    Some would even say it’s healthy.

    ————————
    Not sure you guys are getting it. Read the article, you will see that this was legal at the time it was done in 82 and it was legal when the Colts did it. What the article is telling you is that the league only just now changed that so future incidents will be rule infractions, which are what cheating is really. Just being a better team that thumps yours is not in of itself cheating, and that really is the only basis I ever see you guys throwing that word around on. And thinking that todays rule change goes back retroactively to render all past cases as being illegal acts is just nuts.

  48. “Shoulda made it a 5 yard penalty. Then it would be an important strategic decision”
    But then the ball would be moved to a new spot, if they cleared that spot, then it would be moved 5 more yards.

  49. EXACTLY what I was wondering.

    ———————————————————————————–

    lewsblues says:
    July 6, 2018 at 8:15 pm
    Who gets the penalty? The home team or the kicking team?

    Miami at Buffalo and it’s snowing, week 17, 3 seconds left with Miami at the Buffalo 30 … Miami is ready to attempt a field goal for the win. Suddenly the grounds crew zips across the field clearing a spot in the snow for the Miami kicker …

    Who gets the penalty? Is Miami now at the 45 or the 15?

  50. Fans obsessed with the Patriots’ “cheating” conveniently excuse/ignore the greatest cheating offense ever- the Broncos paying Terrell (HOF? Lol) Davis and John Elway under the table in their Super Bowl years in order to circumvent the salary cap.

    Compared to that, the unproven Deflategate and silly Spygate (the noise you heard back then was 31 other teams throwing their cameras into the dumpster) pale in comparison.

    Now the snowplow is getting added in? Too funny.

  51. But thats what a snow plow is for.Its time we stand up for the snow plowers.Its not like they open doors like they do at the meadowlands to create wind..or leave the roof open like the cowboys do so the sun blinds people…or turn the heat up in visitors locker rooms like miami..pump in noise…leave tarps off of fields..list is endless…its called homefield…get a life.

  52. It’s funny how many people are constantly complaining about the NFL but here they are posting and supporting the product. If you want something changed, you need to hit their pockets and as long as your posting on their blogs, watching on tv, going to the games and buying merchandise; youre not hurting their bottom line but helping it

  53. It the penalty to be applied before or after the kick?

    I think the solution is to have the groundskeepers be NFL employees and they can only plow the field under Park Ave direction.

  54. wafflestomp says:
    July 6, 2018 at 8:06 pm
    .
    Your brethren can’t even see or admit the inherently unfair advantage your team took to use a snowplow to make the home team’s game winning kick more feasible.
    An advantage the Dolphins would never have jbeen afforded.
    ——————————————–

    Except he was and he declined it because in his arrogance he believed the game result would be overturned. You should be cautious in how much empathy you waste on a fraud like Shula.

  55. Honestly though, that game was absolutely insane with snow. Its the worst one I rem. And I can see a safety issue for the kicker with the amount of snow in that area having to kick when that one leg goes so far up and they balance on the toes of the other. But I guess you can’t make exceptions when everyone is trying to play in that

    We won that game…so we did take advantage of home field at least that day.

  56. I have read that there’s talk in Buffalo that a new stadium may be in the works. If so, I hope they build a dome stadium. Save the snow plows for the parking lot. Bill

  57. sportsguy707 says:
    July 6, 2018 at 5:43 pm
    So, who will be the first to send their grounds crew out and clear out the snow 15 yards further back to kick a game winning FG in the Playoffs! LOL!
    ————————————————————–

    How would that work? The ball would be moved 15 yards behind the area you just cleared.

  58. bsizemore68 says:
    July 7, 2018 at 4:06 pm
    I have read that there’s talk in Buffalo that a new stadium may be in the works. If so, I hope they build a dome stadium. Save the snow plows for the parking lot. Bill

    I don’t see that happening. The politicians and nfl want it but the fans don’t. If you ever saw a Buffalo tailgating you’d see they just can’t. It’s miles of people in lots and private homes rent out their yards and campers take up a whole lot of the community college too. The stadium was just updated with a TON of money and features. But either way, they are still in a 10 yr lease right now. In part for the fans, the elements is part of the experience.

  59. I instantly thought of the ’82 game with the Pats and Phins. Oh man Don Shula was fuming on the sidelines. Horrible game to watch. Only 3 points that were scored was that FG. Both QBs couldn’t do anything that day. But the RBs did have some nice days. Interestingly enough, the Phins didn’t lose again until the SB.

  60. Love this rule! Mark it. First snow game of the season the Hood will send his place holder out there with a flame thrower.

  61. Couple bits of strategy…

    1) Send grounds keepers out on 2nd down and they clear a spot 12, 17, or 22 yds back of the line of scrimmage, then commit offsides, holding or a personal foul on 3rd to get to cleaned spot for kick.

    2) Tell players to go down at 8, 13, 18, etc yd lines as they keep the 5 yard line clean for down measurements as the kick is usually 7 yards back.

  62. Art of the crowd You are wrong wrong wrong here is the official rule from before this new rule according to PFT. They just added a penalty to the new rule because having a rule is not enough to make teams like the Pats follow them.
    During a game, the following rules apply, as quoted to PFT by the league office:

    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.

  63. The Truth says:
    July 6, 2018 at 5:53 pm
    The Patsies are what Jack The Ripper was to serial Killer profilers. More cheating techniques discovered yearly and how to combat them.
    ============================
    You realize this isn’t even an article about the Patriots, right?

    Sheesh – even when another team cheats it’s the Pats fault. While hilarious not entirely surprising.

  64. graylingskies says:
    July 6, 2018 at 6:12 pm
    Hmm lets see. The only time that has happened was in a 2001 divisional playoff game between the Patriots and the Raiders, with Adam Vinatieri kicking the winning field goal for the Pats. The coach of the Raiders was Jon Gruden, the new coach of the Raiders this year. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas. Coincidences? I think not.
    ====================================
    Unless it didn’t. The players cleared the snow for that kick not the field crew.

    I thought Raiders fans were still hurt over the ill begotten tuck rule not clearing of the snow. How many things are y’all gonna still whine about?

  65. wafflestomp says:
    July 6, 2018 at 7:15 pm
    razzlejag says:
    July 6, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    When Mark Henderson cleared the snow on the FG that beat Miami, there was no rule against it.
    _____________________

    Oh yeah I almost forgot about that game. ‘82, right.
    Wow! The Pats cheating history goes back pretty far.

    And I love how cheating has been so ingrained with their everyday fan base that they try and rationalize it and fail to see what is inherently unfair about what transpired that day.
    Classic Pats fan.
    ==========================
    There’s nothing more to rationalize than the fact that other teams cheat as well. The only people in denial are the ones who truly believe that isn’t the case. Pats can be called the ruler of all cheaters if that helps fans sleep at night. Just understand your team cheats as well.

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