The National Football League announced this week that officials at all training camp sites are stressing new rules to the players. These rules, which are also presented to the players in a video, are aimed at curbing celebrations by players and their teammates on scoring or other big plays.
Things now banned by the NFL include but are not limited to, sack dances, home run swings, Incredible Hulk moves, shoving the ball and spiking the ball among other things (which also includes ‘sexually suggestive moves’). If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is trying to take the fun out of professional football, and many think he is, then he doesn’t have far to go to complete his mission.
The NFL claimed in a statemtn this morning that these things may be allowed but only if they are not intentionally done to taunt or embarrass an opponent. My question would be, why the clarification? Taunting penalties have already been put in place. I see no reason for this ‘clarification.’
I find it incredibly ironic that in the days following the insensitive and racist comments by Riley Cooper that went unpunished by Goodell, he and his minions are now targeting celebrations that are done by and large by mostly African-American players. With the NFL being composed of roughly 70% African-Americans and most of the skill positions being dominated by them, they will therefore have greater chances for celebration.
Essentially what Goodell is saying is that Steve Smith can’t spin the ball after a touchdown. Jared Allen can’t do his rodeo sack dance and God forbid someone do a military salute.
Whatever happened to this game being fun? Scoring a touchdown in the backyard meant you got the chance to do the ‘Lynn Swann over-the shoulder’ spike. It meant you got to spike it like Walter Payton and it meant you had a chance to spin the ball and dance around it if you chose. Now we are headed for more of Roger Goodell’s ‘No Fun League’ which drives me nuts to put it mildly.
The issue according to the league is to reduce the taunting of opponents. I understand that and totally agree, but many of the things now listed as being potentially flagged are individual acts that do not taunt or incite the opposition.
Billy “White Shoes” Johnson didn’t dance in the end zone to taunt the opponent, he was celebrating! Washington’s “Fun Bunch” wasn’t directing their post-touchdown get-together at the opponent either. They were having fun!!! Is that so wrong?
In his quest to eliminate the violence of the game and to make it more tolerable to ‘average’ fans, Goodell is killing the fun of this game. Celebration in football is what makes it unique because of how the game is played. Before you know it, Goodell will ban the soccer cheer by fans in Baltimore.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.