I don’t know about you, but the Steelers did something on Sunday that gave me a genuine belly laugh.
What did they do? Eric Ebron, Diontae Johnson, Ray-Ray McCloud and Chase Claypool made it a point to wish JuJu Smith-Schuster a happy 24th birthday following Claypool’s 31-yard touchdown catch midway through the second quarter of Pittsburgh’s 27-3 victory over the Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field.
How did they do it? By pretending the football was a candle and singing “Happy Birthday to you!” right before Smith-Schuster “blew out” said football candle. The actual laugh came seconds before when Claypool proceeded to fake light the football candle.
Now, that was a creative and fun celebration. Sure, it helped that the Steelers had just scored to take a 10-3 lead in what had been a fairly tight contest against a 1-8 football team up to that point. But it’s always more fun when your favorite team is winning, which is generally when football players break out the really elaborate touchdown celebrations.
The joy that touchdown celebrations have always given me as a fan makes me wonder why so many other folks out in Football Nation seem to object to such things. I’m 48 years old, and I’ve never lived in an era where it’s been standard practice for players to simply hand the football back to the official after reaching pay-dirt. Therefore, I always must ask just how old the folks are who wish for the return of those days.
I could see this being a competitive problem as recently as the mid-2010s when Antonio Brown made it a habit of costing Pittsburgh 15 yards thanks to his fondness for twerking the air and crotch-landing on goal posts. Fortunately, the NFL would soon wise up and give players more freedom on celebrations, which ultimately paved the way for my very sincere laughter during the Jaguars game on Sunday.
Football is supposed to be fun, and I don’t want players to act like they’ve been there before whenever they score a touchdown. Work isn’t quite as much fun for most folks out there, which is why the only thing many of us celebrate is not being there.
I’m glad there’s never been an unwritten rule when it comes to celebrations in football, where opposing teams consider them disrespectful. Other sports can’t say that. Take baseball, for example, where if a batter even looks like he’s enjoying a home run as he rounds the bases, the other team immediately begins to plot its revenge against him.
I’m also thankful that the NFL decided to do away with the written rules pertaining to touchdown celebrations.
NFL may unofficially stand for “Not For Long,” but it never has to stand for “No Fun League.”