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Celebrate Good Times, C’mon!

NFL Penalty FlagIn the early 1980’s, Kool & The Gang urged us to “celebrate good times” in their #1 Billboard hit “Celebration”. Back then, the NFL and it’s players took that message to heart with some of the most entertaining post-score frolic ever displayed at a sporting event. The Billy “White Shoes” Johnson end-zone dance, Ickey Woods’ “Shuffle”, the Fun Bunch jump, and others, delighted crowds and TV watchers alike, helping to propel the league to the top of the American sports popularity charts.
Today, while the iconic disco hit continues to get regular radio airplay, and is a staple of every wedding DJ’s playlist, the NFL has decided to take the opposite approach and secure it’s moniker’s definition as the “No Fun League”. For example, any type of group celebration, or multi-player choreographed revelry is verboten … very odd for the ultimate TEAM sport. Any use of a prop; including the ball, goal posts, or pylons; is forbidden. Further, anything that the officials deem inappropriate or found to be remotely taunting can evoke the dreaded yellow flag indicating a 15 yard Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty.
Granted, the TD hoopla was getting out of hand with the likes of Terrell Owens and his antics – which included carrying a sharpie in his sock to autograph the ball and hand it to the defender, taking the ball to mid-field and spiking it on his opponent’s logo, and taking a nap on the ball in the end-zone on his opponent’s painted name. His celebrations were more taunting in nature, forcing the league’s honchos to reign in his potentially volatile-reaction-inducing acts.
However, as usually happens, the chieftains let the pendulum swing too far. Just this season alone, we’ve seen the penalty flag fly for two players who have imitated shooting an arrow into the air; three players who gathered and waved their arms in the air; and, just yesterday, a player was flagged for shooting the football into the air as if it were a basketball! Players can’t even remove their helmets on the field without incurring a penalty.
It’s time for the NFL to wake up! TV ratings are falling; teams are having trouble selling out; and the air of a fun, and even outlandish, player pool filled with mesmerizing personalities which helped lift the league to unprecedented heights is seemingly disappearing. The powers that be need to allow the hilarity of an Antonio Brown hugging the goal posts, the joy of a Cardinal team dancing, or the delight of a Michael Crabtree throwing the ball 50 feet into the air, to occur WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE. They need to allow their players to “celebrate good times … C’MON!”.

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