The NFL has decided to put itself under review. In the offseason, the league will ask its Competition Committee to look at player celebrations, with the possible aim of giving officials more discretion to allow players the freedom to celebrate.
According to Pro Football Talk, “Specifically, the league office will produce for the Competition Committee a compilation of a wide variety of player celebrations.
“The evidence could prompt the Competition Committee to conclude that the rules regarding celebrations should be relaxed. This year, many players and fans have balked at the so-called No Fun League’s decision to flag and/or fine players for displaying excessive exuberance.”
Until now, one sticking point for officials has been the question of discretion and whether or not they have the ability to use their own judgment when assessing if a player celebration crossed the line. Interestingly, last week’s “Snow Angel” celebration may have shed some light on that subject.
As Pro Football Talk notes, “The recent explanation from senior V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino that the officials have a certain amount of discretion to permit snow angels fairly could be regarded as a hint at what could come after the Competition Committee considers the issue and makes recommendations to ownership. Under current rules, the officials have no discretion regarding players who go to the ground for any reason other than prayer.
“There’s a chance that the current rules could end up getting a bit of an overhaul, with players given greater freedom to express themselves after achieving a positive outcome on the football field.”
The NFL has always had these types of rules regarding celebrations. Yet, only in the last year or so have officials cracked down on it enough to become an issue. For example, in mid-October, Vernon Davis of the Washington Redskins got flagged for excessive celebration for performing his “jump-shot” touchdown celebration.
Prior to that, the NFL had sent around a video with a list of illegal touchdown celebrations. The jump-shot celebration did not appear on that list. Davis had actually performed that very same celebration after every touchdown for many years, never once drawing a penalty. Davis’ 15-yard penalty got assessed on the ensuing kickoff, which the Eagles returned for a touchdown largely because the coverage team had 15 more yards to run and couldn’t get in position fast enough.
This begs the question of who ordered the “code red?” Who decided after years and years that jump-shot fades and imaginary arrow firing suddenly constitutes a clear and present danger, more so than domestic violence and causing horrific offense to millions of veterans?
Probably the same guy who thought Thursday Night Football would be the next big thing.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn