With three games in Week 14 set to take place in the snow on Sunday, it seems like a good time to try and get an answer to one of the NFL’s most perplexing questions: Do players get penalized for making a snow angel?
If you watched football in Week 13, then you’re probably not sure what the answer to that question is because some players were penalized and some players weren’t.
In the Packers’ 21-13 win over the Texans, Randall Cobb made a snow angel after scoring a touchdown and wasn’t penalized for it.
However, in the 49ers’ 24-6 loss to the Bears, San Francisco’s Rashard Robinson was penalized for making a snow angel.
So what gives, and which officiating crew made the correct call?
Apparently, both crews got it right.
If you’re wondering how that’s possible, I’ll go ahead and let the NFL’s vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino, explain things. Blandino says the call can go both ways because officials can use “discretion” on a penalty like snow angels.
“I think our officials used some discretion there,” Blandino said recently on NFL Network, via Pro Football Talk. “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.”
If you’re a fan, especially a 49ers fan, this probably shouldn’t make you happy to learn that a ref can literally do whatever he wants, especially because the potential penalty is a 15-yarder for unsportsmanlike conduct.
In the 49ers game, San Francisco would’ve gotten the ball at Chicago’s 4-yard line if Robinson wouldn’t have been penalized after a blocked punt that appeared to go for a touchdown. Instant replay showed that he was out at the 4-yard line. After the penalty was enforced, the 49ers got the ball at the 19-yard line and didn’t end up scoring a touchdown.
This rule could get ugly if one player gets penalized in one game and then a different player in the same game doesn’t get penalized. It could also get ugly if a snow angel penalty ends up costing any team a game.
What the NFL needs to do is make a simple decision: Either penalize snow angels or don’t, but you can’t have it both ways.