Let me start by saying I am the unofficial president of the NFL equals No Fun League council. I can’t stand how the league won’t allow players to celebrate touchdowns, interceptions or sacks however they want. I have been very open about this fact for many years as Roger Goodell and company look to “clean up” the league.
This goes back even further than Goodell, and when the NFL made it a penalty for a player to take his helmet off to celebrate after a play. Memories of Michael Irvin and Keyshawn Johnson scoring and taking their helmets off to celebrate comes to mind. Since then it has been a downward spiral, in regards to what the league allows players to do.
In reality there is very little wiggle room with these rules. No group celebrations, no sexual gestures (see above picture) and nothing coordinated, like taking a sharpie out of your sock to sign the football you just caught for a touchdown, or getting the cell phone you planted underneath the goal post to act like you are making a phone call after a touchdown. The rules are much more involved than the ones I mentioned, but that is the general thought process officials have when watching athletes after a play with a watchful eye.
As ridiculous as penalizing a team for celebrating a big play in a game might sound, I now realize it is time for one Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers to cut out the post-score theatrics which have been putting the team behind the 8-ball.
This all changed on Thursday night when the Steelers were beating the Indianapolis Colts, and Brown increased their lead with a nifty touchdown reception, one of three on the night. He and Le’Veon Bell broke into a choreographed dance, and drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty to be assessed on the kickoff.
No big deal, right? I spouted off on Twitter about the No Fun League, just doing my job as the president of said council, and then Jordan Todman took the Chris Boswell kickoff, which most likely would have been a touchback if not for the penalty, 43-yards which set up the Colts’ only scoring drive of the game.
Scott Tolzien played well, and the drive was aided by the fake punt which put the Colts in the red-zone, but the penalty to Brown set the defense up for failure.
Sure, the defense could have held strong throughout the drive, but what kept entering my mind was how the Steelers defense shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place.
Then it hit me — this stuff has to stop. This isn’t an in-game penalty, I can live with those, this is a dead ball penalty of the dumbest variety.
I don’t like the rules, but at the same time everyone, including Brown, knows the rules. It is time to abide by those. While head coach Mike Tomlin downplayed the celebration penalties again in his weekly press conference, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spoke about how the team talked with Brown in a team meeting.
“He knows, we all know, Coach Tomlin brought it up yesterday, that is a huge penalty that we can’t do. We put our kick coverage team in a bad situation and we can’t have it, and AB knows that.” Roethlisberger said on his weekly radio show on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh.
It seems a message has been sent, but only time will tell if Brown will put the team first, and save his celebrations for the sidelines. I’m not suggesting Brown has to turn into Heath Miller, who simply handed the ball to the official after a score, but to realize the line he can’t cross. Against the New York Giants, Buffalo Bills and three AFC North matchups to finish out the season, giving a team field position could be a deciding factor in a game, and those mistakes just can’t happen.
Hate the rule, I know I do, but also realize when it hurts the team. Plain and simple, it’s time for the endzone antics to stop.