I will defend the National Football League in almost any situation. I’m somewhat ashamed to say that but it’s true. Are the owners all money-grubbing bastards? Probably. Do NFL players make good role models? Probably not. Do repeated blows to the head cause brain damage? I don’t remember. Is the Redskins team name offensive? You bet. Sadly, I can’t get too worked up about any of that because I love the game. Give me replacement officials. Give me a horribly flawed instant replay system. Give me a ridiculous set of rules that makes it illegal to so much as fart within five yards of the quarterback. I’ll take it all with a smile because it’s football and that’s all that matters. This time, however, I think the league has gone too far.
Do you remember the Ickey Shuffle? How about Jamal Anderson’s Dirty Bird, Johnny Morton’s Worm, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson’s Funky Chicken, or Merton Hanks’ Chicken Dance? We’ve seen some great celebration dances over the years, as well as some really, really bad ones. The all-time worst has to be the Super Bowl Shuffle, that truly awful video the Chicago Bears made at the end of the 1985 season.
In recent years, the NFL has tried to put the kibosh on pretty much all on-field celebrations. You can’t do anything that might be considered taunting. You can’t have any group (multi-player) celebrations. You can’t use any props. We can probably thank Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson for that one. Some of their antics were hilarious but they were getting a little carried away. And on the subject of getting carried away, the NFL recently determined that the ball is a prop, the goalpost is a prop, and neither can be used in a touchdown celebration. Specifically, it’s now illegal to dunk the ball over the goalpost. I have a problem with that on any number of different levels but it boils down to this. That new rule, like so much else the NFL does these days, is entirely arbitrary and makes no sense whatsoever.
Let’s talk about that calf roping thing Jared Allen used to do. It wasn’t a taunt. It didn’t involve any other players. No props were used. We still haven’t seen it in a few years because the NFL deemed it illegal. Why? Your guess is as good as mine, especially when Victor Cruz can still salsa, Can Newton can still Superman, Tim Tebow can still Tebow, not that anyone wants him to, Colin Kaepernick is still kissing his tattoos (shouldn’t they be considered props?), and every Green Bay Packer on the planet is still allowed to Lambeau Leap. I didn’t add a hyperlink for that one because I absolutely HATE IT!
“We grandfathered in some, the Lambeau Leap and things like that, but dunking will come out,” That’s a quote from Dean Blandino, the league’s vice president of officiating. And here’s a quote from Michael Sova, blogger and royally pissed off football fan. “Are you kidding me?” Let’s go back to that original set of rules about touchdown celebrations. No taunting. No multi-player stuff. No props. Doesn’t the Lambeau Leap violate at least two of those? If the ball and goalpost are props, how are the stadium seats not? And as for taunting, the Lambeau Leap isn’t just sticking it to the opposing team, it’s sticking it to their fans. If you don’t believe me, ask any fan of the Bears, Lions or Vikings. I change the channel as soon as the Packers score a touchdown because I just don’t want to see it. I deal with it because it’s part of the game and part of the Packers’ home field advantage, just like the Seahawk’s 12th man, the Buccaneers’ cannon, ‘the Vikings’ horn, or that totally irritating “IT’S T–H–I–R–D DOWN” announcement you hear about forty-five times during every Falcons game. You want to outlaw goalpost dunking, fine; but it’s ridiculous to penalize that, or calf roping, or giving a ball to a kid in the stands, but celebrations like the Lambeau Leap are still allowed. A bit more consistency in the rules would be nice.
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