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

Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 10: /Adam Vinatieri #4 of the Indianapolis Colts attempts a field goal during the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills on December 10, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

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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.