Becker: Players should tone down celebrations
Courtney Becker | Tuesday, November 14, 2017
After establishing its reputation as the “No Fun League,” the NFL has loosened up its definition of what constitutes an excessive celebration, and players are taking full advantage of their increased freedom. I may be in the minority here, but I’m getting pretty sick of the NFL touchdown celebrations players have come up with this season.
During the 2016 season, the NFL distributed a ridiculous number of fines for some fairly innocuous touchdown celebrations. I was just as bummed out about this as most fans were. I enjoy watching spontaneous outbursts of sheer joy from players who have just scored a touchdown or sacked a quarterback. It’s a great reminder of why most NFL players got into football in the first place: for the fun of the game. So it was disappointing to see Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown simply hand the ball to a referee and jog off the field after catching a touchdown pass instead of busting out some of his signature dance moves.
The problem with the NFL’s reverse in policy, however, is that now teams will prioritize trying to choreograph the most elaborate, funniest touchdown celebrations over actually celebrating with their team.
Since I am an established Steelers fan and the Steelers’ celebrations have been prominent this season on the new touchdown scene — although the Vikings have been giving them a run for their money — I’ll use them as an example. Antonio Brown racked up three fines for his various celebrations over the 2016 season, including two twerking instances and a handshake with running back Le’Veon Bell, who was also fined in that instance. The league fined Brown nearly $25,000 for the second incident — which lasted for about three seconds.
The Steelers and their fans were openly upset about how strict NFL officials were last season, and this season the Steelers seem to be challenging themselves to top their touchdown celebrations each week. In week 7, Bell and Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster played hide and seek after Smith-Schuster caught a touchdown pass. Later that week, Smith-Schuster offered quarterback Ben Roethlisberger his game check for Roethlisberger to participate in a choreographed touchdown celebration. On Sunday, Smith-Schuster and Bell even recreated the fight between A.J. Green and Jalen Ramsey in week 9, which resulted in both players being ejected from the Bengals-Jaguars game.
Again, I know a lot of people who enjoy these celebrations; Bell and Smith-Schuster’s fight reenactment even earned an A- from Pete Blackburn of CBS. When I saw the celebration, however, I just rolled my eyes at it and waited for the game to continue. It was somewhat frustrating to see a celebration as stupid as the fight recreation when the score at the time was 17-9 in favor of the 3-6 Colts team.
And honestly, it looked as though some of Bell’s and Smith-Schuster’s teammates were doing the same. That’s my biggest problem with recent celebrations from NFL players: So many of their teammates have to stand around and wait for one or two players to finish these ridiculously choreographed celebrations before the rest of the team can join in. If there’s one thing the Vikings have over the Steelers, it’s that most of their celebrations are group ones.
None of this is to say I want the NFL to go back to being the No Fun League. The 2016 season was missing a little something by cracking down on celebrations, and there have been some admittedly hilarious and fun moments as a result of the league being more relaxed this season. I just wish the NFL could find a balance between no celebrations and excessive celebrations that distract from the game itself.
Somewhere in that happy medium, Antonio Brown is leaping onto a goalpost.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.