Friday, March 31, 2006

NFL Clamps Down on Celebrations

The buzz coming out of the NFL owners meetings this week was the elimination of the modern day end zone celebration.

The days of excessive celebration is over. All I can say is thank goodness for that. No more Joe Horn cell phones, T.O and his sharpie and Chad Johnson giving CPR to a football.

Don't get me wrong. I think guys should celebrate and be happy when they score. But that doesn't mean they should showboat, carry on a big production and put the emphasis on the individual over the team. Spike it, dunk it, jump into the crowd. That's fine by me - and the NFL too - just don't use the pylon as a putter.

Spikes, leaps into the crowd and simple celebrations are still allowed. The NFL isn't trying to take the fun out of the game - just the garbage that shouldn't be in it to begin with.

The vote was 29-3. An obvious sign that the owners are sick of this stuff as well. Under the new rules, the officials have the power to penalize a team 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff.

This will only make the game better. Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, Jerry Rice and Barry Sanders didn't need to gyrate and show off after a touchdown. Modern day players like LaDanian Tomlinson and Torry Holt act like they've been in the end zone before. The true superstars of the game know the NFL is better without all that junk.

It's gotten so bad that defensive guys start dancing after a simple tackle. I echo the sentiments of Dick Butkus who once said, "C'mon guys, act like you've been there before. That's your job. You're supposed to make the tackle."

Football is the ultimate team sport. One man can't do it alone. No matter how talented he his. The excessive celebrations are one of the few black eyes that this great game has. But thanks to some solid leadership on the part of the NFL owners, this black eye may start to clear up.

Other significant rules changes from the meetings:

1. Replay challenges will now be used on down-by-contact plays. In addition, the time officials have to review a challenge has been shortened from 90 to 60 seconds.

2. A rushing defensive player will be penalized for hitting a quarterback below the knees unless he is coming off a block or is pushed into the QB.

3. Long snappers will no longer have a defensive player lined up in front of him. They have to be at an angle now.

4. The Horse Collar tackle was expanded to include grabbing the back of the players jersey. (That's a dumb one. Sometimes the only way to make a tackle is to grab the jersey. In my opinion, it shouldn't have been put in).

While there's still work to be done, the Competition Committee has done a pretty good job making the game safer and better.

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