This past week the NFL announced that 15 yard penalties and fines will occur for a player excessively celebrating a touchdown. No more dancing. No more using the ball as a prop, i.e. putting it with a pylon. Pretty much, just no more fun. Once again, the NFL completely ignores the fact that sports and pro football in general are here for one reason above all others: entertaining their fan base.
In the past decade, the NFL has tried to slow down excessive celebrations. In 1997, they said that you could no longer remove your helmet in the field of play (Sorry Emmitt Smith). By 2000, touchdown celebrations were restricted to only one player and a fine would be assessed to the multiple players who didn’t abide by it. (Sorry St. Louis Rams). In 2004, props were permanently disallowed from the endzone. No more cell phones, no more sharpies, no more signs.
This past season saw celebrations reach a new level of creativity. Chad Johnson proposing to a cheerleader or giving the football CPR. Steve Smith sliding down the goal post or wiping the ball like he’s changing its diaper. All of which is now going to be penalized if repeated again this year. The only TD celebrations allowed will be spiking the ball, spinning the ball, and slight dancing which remains to be interpreted.
The NFL had been called the No Fun League for a few years, but now I think they’ve officially earned that title. The touchdown celebrations that we all enjoyed never showed anybody up. They were never done in a taunting manner. It was all part of having fun, giving the fans a little something extra. If I wanted to watch a football game where guys don’t appear to like what they’re doing, I’d watch NFL Europe.
Personality is what helps make sports great. The outcries that these guys such as Chad Johnson don’t care about the team are just completely false. The most important thing is winning, and every player will tell you that from the ones that dance, to the ones that hold the clipboards. If the NFL wanted to stop these guys from becoming their own individual, then why not just take the name off the back of their jersey. Just let them play with a Dallas Cowboy logo on the helmet, and we don’t have to know who scores the touchdowns. The excessive celebration infraction is more about a player singling himself out, putting himself “above” the team so why even tell us who scores the touchdowns anyway. It’s all about your team scoring, right? Why punish a guy for dancing just because he actually enjoys what he does for a living.
These guys are more than just athletes. They are entertainers. And because of what the NFL just ruled, they just may have a harder time entertaining us this fall.