Former Head of NFL Officials: League Changed End Zone Celebration Rules to ‘Reach the Millennial’

Referees discuss a call in the second quarter of a football game -- the NFL will test a new rule in 2016 under which players will be ejected from games if they receive two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties
Getty/AFP/File Dilip Vishwanat

Dean Blandino, currently of Fox and formerly the head of NFL officiating, shed some light on the NFL’s reason for loosening the restrictions against end zone celebrations.

The reasoning? They wanted to reach millennials.

In an appearance on the Colin Cowherd show, Blandino said, “I think that part of it is trying to reach the millennial and this new age of fans and having more fun.

“And there was a committee, I was part of that committee with different people at the league office in looking at our game, looking at in-game downtime, looking at how our fans watch the game, looking at eye-tracking technology and where their eyes are going.”

According to Blandino, the league has sought to repair its image among young people for quite some time.

“It definitely has been something that’s ramped up,” Blandino said. “I would say it started even earlier than six to 12 months. This has probably been two to three years in the making.”

The NFL’s end zone celebration rules were dumb, and we should all rejoice that there will be fewer of them. However, the fact that the league is now actively trying to court new fans, not through the sale or marketing of their game but instead by enhancing the entertainment aspect, should scare everyone.

End zone celebrations have been wildly unpopular for years, but the idea that people weren’t watching the NFL because of them seems absurd.

Conversely, the idea that anyone not watching would find themselves so transported by the NFL reconsidering their end zone celebrations that they would suddenly feel an irrepressibly need to watch the game also smacks of insanity.

But then again, it’s Roger Goodell’s NFL.

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn

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