The NFL is Sucking the Fun Out of Football

Last Sunday, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins scored a touchdown, which is a pretty big deal for any Cleveland Browns player now a days, but what he proceeded to do immediately after was a million times more impressive.  Hawkins beat NFL Dictator Roger Goodell at his own game.  He became Goodell’s utopian cyborg.

The NFL has been cracking down on all things fun this year.  Social media has been banned by players and coaches in the stadium and teams can only use authorized content from the NFL.  Also, players’ in-game apparel can’t be cool.  No swag allowed.  But most importantly, Big Brother, has been keeping a keen eye on the celebratory enjoyment of players when they do things worth celebrating.  12 fines have already been graciously gifted to players this season through five weeks.  That’s five more celebration fines than all of last year.

Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver/Dancing with the Stars participant Antonio Brown, one of Goodell’s victims, was fined $9,115 for his Week One “Hingle McCringleberry” touchdown celebration that lasted for about 5 seconds tops, and that’s being generous.  His response?: “Nothing to a boss.”  After two scoreless weeks, Brown bounced back with another fire celebration that lasted roughly two seconds, and guess what?  He received a heftier fine of $24,309.  Unlike his response to the first fine, Brown appealed the second one, saying “I can’t stop having fun.”

He has also been under fire for wearing specialized cleats.  Most recently, the NFL threatened to have him ejected if he didn’t change out of his cleats that payed homage to Muhammad Ali, so he listened and changed into vanilla, black and white Nike cleats.  Thank goodness the NFL intervened!  Those cleats were disturbing the peace!  We can’t have players fighting the status quo!

This looks like an Antonio Brown problem, but it isn’t.  Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman saw a fine come his way after he celebrated a solid defensive play with an air bow-and-arrow.  It’s pretty well known that, after Norman’s on-field antics last season, he and Roger Goodell aren’t the best of friends, but that fine was a slap in the face to a lot of players.  (Also, who is friends with Goodell?  The dude’s a snake.)

The bow-and-arrow is one of the most-used celebrations in football, and it doesn’t even come close to many of the vicious hits that occur on the field.  Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks took offense to the fine because he uses it to reference the biblical story of Ishmael and Hagar. Norman, who has never been at a loss of words, spoke out (surprise!) against the NFL for its double standard: “We say we want to be PG … but at the same time, we’re selling beer on TV shows when kids are watching.”

It’s pretty tough to get away with anything these days.  Luckily, NFL senior V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino benevolently outlined Celebratory Do’s and Don’ts for all players and coaches.

Do’s:

  1. Dancing that is not sexually suggestive
  2. Celebrations with teammates that are not choreographed
  3. Spiking the ball, as long as it’s not directed at an opponent
  4. Spinning the ball, as long as it’s not directed to an opponent
  5. Bowing to the crowd
  6. Saluting
  7. Going to the ground in prayer
  8. The “Lambeau Leap”
  9. Handing the ball to the official.

Dont’s:

  1. Anything that mimics a violent act, including slashing the throat, shooting guns, and shooting arrows, whether directed at an opponent or not
  2. Sexually suggestive dancing
  3. Choreographed celebrations
  4. Excessive celebrations
  5. Prolonged celebrations
  6. Spiking or spinning the ball at an opponent
  7. Going to the ground
  8. Using the ball as a prop
  9. Using any other props.

If you’re a player and you’re afraid that you may get in trouble for your celebration, don’t worry about it.  The NFL has a “Know it when you see it” policy so you’re safe!  Those middle-aged, rich white males are absolutely with the times and definitely have a grasp on what is cool and uncool.  Antonio Brown’s sexually explicit hip thrusts have clearly poisoned the youth’s minds, and Josh Norman was clearly viciously attacking his enemies with that bow-and-arrow, encouraging kids to purge each other!

Blandino’s scariest point is the “Excessive celebrations” rule.  If Alex Trabek said “An umbrella term that covers absolutely anything and everything in regards to having fun in a celebratory manner, “What is Excessive celebrations?” would be the answer.  Soon players are going to get fined for stepping too aggressively because their steps might be confused for stomps which hurt people if done curbs.  And, god help a player if he pretends to drive a car using the football as his steering wheel.  That is, in fact, using the football as a prop, plus vehicles kill people, so that dude is extra screwed if he goes down that path.

This isn’t the first time Goodell has sucked the fun out of everything, and it certainly won’t be the last.  Realistically, players are just going to have to adapt to the rules (find loopholes around the rules).  Put on your thinking caps, and follow Andrew Hawkins’ lead!

Photo credit: Bleacher Report