Colts illegally had non-players help clear snow before Adam Vinatieri kick
Adam Vinatieri proved once again on Sunday why he is the most clutch kicker in NFL history, but he may have gotten some assistance from a few people he should not have.
As Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk pointed out, the Indianapolis Colts sent some sideline personnel onto the field to help clear snow from the area where Vinatieri was lining up to kick his game-tying 43-yard extra point. In the video below, you can see an official order the Colts staffers off the field:
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 10, 2017
Of course, Vinatieri somehow curved the kick into a blizzard and through the uprights. But the assist he got was a violation of league rules, as is clearly stated in the NFL Game Operations Manual.
“Under no circumstances will a Referee permit clearing by the grounds crew, or other team personnel, of a spot for a PAT or field goal attempt. Only players are permitted to clear such spots by hand or foot.”
The NFL told Pro Football Talk that the snow-clearing procedure is considered a Game Operations Policy, not a rule. Because of that, the officials could not have enforced a penalty. The league said the situation was handled properly with the Colts personnel being told to leave the field.
It would not be a surprise to see the NFL change that going forward. Having equipment managers and assistant coaches clear snow for a kicker is an obvious competitive advantage, and it should result in a penalty. We can only imagine the outrage there would have been had you-know-who pulled the same stunt.
The Colts went on to lose to the Buffalo Bills in overtime, which is probably another reason you won’t hear much about this.