With everything going on in the NFL these days, you’d think that the league would actually encourage the players to have a little bit more fun on the field, and maybe the refs would consider easing up on the silly rule that penalizes teams 15 yards for “excessive celebration.” Maybe they’d let Brian Hartline’s great invisible putt celebration from last Sunday go because it was hilarious, and maybe they’d let Devin Hester celebrate breaking a huge record by paying homage to the Hall of Famer who he passed, or at the very least let Jimmy Graham dunk like he did last season. But nope. They can’t have that sort of stuff going on.
Sure, sometimes the gloating gets to be a little much, yet the fact remains that doing a funny dance after accomplishing something great like picking off a pass or sacking Peyton Manning doesn’t hurt anybody, so you’d think they could let it slip once in a while. But that’s hardly ever the case, which is the reason that fans and sportswriters have called the league out time and time again, saying the rule is “hypocritical and contradictory,” and even wondering if it might be something deeper and darker that earns players a yellow flag.
But what if the NFL had clamped down decades earlier? What if they decided that anything resembling a player getting excited about a big play was illegal after New York Giants wide receiver Homer Jones did what we consider the first “touchdown spike” in the 1960s? The following things would have come with a price tag of 15 important yards, or worse, they may have never happened at all.
The Ickey Shuffle
Ickey Woods had a great rookie season in 1988, and then nothing much after that due to injuries. But as this latest Geico commercial commercial shows, he’s still known more for his shuffling.
Jamal Anderson’s “Dirty Bird”
Do you remember the 1998 Jamal Anderson had for the Falcons where he rushed for over 1800 yards? Who wouldn’t want to do a dance if they had a season like that one?
Terrell Owens Does The Ray Lewis
The rivalry between T.O. and the two-time Super Bowl winning linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens got turned up a notch after Owens stole the dance Lewis did while running out onto the field. But what better way to taunt your opponent than to use his signature dance after you score?
Forget the Devin Hester penalty; Deion Sanders turning the field into his own personal nightclub wouldn’t even be a consideration today.
Show Him The Money
And finally, when you’re watching Jerry Maguire with your kids in a few years, and one of them asks why they aren’t throwing the flag at Cuba Gooding Jr.’s character, you can look at them and let them know that there was a time, long before they were born, when football players were allowed to celebrate doing something great.