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NFL Celebration Hypocrisy

October 26, 2010 Leave a comment

This is something that has never made sense to me for a while and since Mike Carlson mentioned it this week during Sunday Night Football on Channel 4, it proves I am not the only one who has a problem with it. For those unaware who Mike Carlson is, he is the studio analyst on Channel 4 for Sunday Night Football as well as being the greatest football analyst/presenter/commentator/journalist, whatever you want to call him in the UK or the USA or anywhere else for that matter.

Anyway, the issue I am referring to is the NFL’s policy on over celebrating and how referees can hand out immediate 15 yard penalty’s to a team if players are deemed to have celebrated ‘over the top’. For the past few years, the league has been trying to curtail players’ celebrations after scoring a touchdown.

Chad Ochocinco one of a number of players renowned for his touchdown celebrations

There are a number of players who have made a name for ‘creative’ celebrations after scoring. Some of the most memorable in recent history include Terrell Owens signing a football, Chad Ochocinco giving CPR to the football, proposing to a cheerleader and playing a golf shot with an end zone pylon, Steve Smith (Panthers, not Giants) creating a snow angel and cradling the ball like a baby, Randy Moss mimicking mooning the Green Bay crowd after scoring for Minnesota and Joe Horn phoning his mum on a phone hidden in the padding of the goalpost.

Throughout the game there have been a lot of famous celebrations. Billy ‘White Shoes’ Johnson always performed the funky chicken dance after every score and for a period in the early 80’s the Washington Redskins team performed a group high-five after scoring. All of these celebrations have endeared the players to a lot of supporters providing an extra dose of entertainment to the games. There are of course those who find the celebrations far too excessive and egotistical as the game is all about the team and not the individual.

Players are no longer allowed to leave their feet or use props or have pre organised celebration routines. For example, this season we saw Dallas Cowboys’ offensive lineman Marc Colombo penalised 15 yards after Jason Witten’s touchdown. Witten gave the ball to his lineman to spike (spiking the ball is still allowed) before the two performed a jumping chest bump (also allowed even though they are jumping off the ground), however Colombo last his balance and stumbled to the ground, the referees then threw the flag and penalised the Cowboys 15 yards on the kick off for this.

This is not the most baffling thing I find about the rules however, if the league wants to ban excessive celebrations then that’s their choice and although I personally think it removes something from the game, plenty of others agree with the NFL. However, there is one GLARING omission that it is just beyond belief. The Lambeau Leap.

The famous Lambeau Leap

Any football fan knows what the Lambeau Leap is, for those who don’t it is a celebration performed by Green Bay Packers players at their home stadium, Lambeau Field. After scoring, the Packers player leaps into the crowd of celebrating Packers fans. Now, if Marc Colombo is being penalised for falling over as it breaks the rules of going to ground, how is sprinting over to the crowd and leaping into the stands after every score not against these rules!? Don’t misunderstand me here, I enjoy the Lambeau Leap and love to see it whenever watching the Packers, but why do players from every other team have to behave like robots after scoring like it means nothing to them when Packers players can display the emotion and delight of scoring in this manner!?

Those who support the lack of celebrations, but also support the Lambeau Leap will argue the usual point of it being ‘tradition’, well how is it any more of a special tradition to general celebrating? NFL players had been performing all sorts of celebrations before the Lambeau Leap was ever performed. It just seems that they should enforce the penalty on this along with other celebrations if they are serious about the rule

If I was suddenly appointed as the commissioner of the NFL, it’s a long shot I know; I’d simply remove this rule entirely and allow players to design and perform as elaborate a celebration as they want. This really is just another example of the NFL standing for the ‘No Fun League’.