NFL to loosen up on cel­e­bra­tions

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JIM LITKE

CHICAGO — The Na­tional Foot­ball League wants to bring back a lit­tle bit of Broad­way to an end zone near you next sea­son.

Af­ter years of lim­it­ing how — and how much — play­ers could cel­e­brate fol­low­ing touch­downs, the league de­cided to loosen up its rules, al­low­ing play­ers to again use the foot­ball as a prop, cel­e­brate as a group and roll around or flap their arms like snow an­gels on the ground again if they choose.

In an email from Roger Good­ell sent to fans in an ef­fort to de­liver “a more ex­cit­ing game ex­pe­ri­ence,” the com­mis­sioner said the new guide­lines came af­ter con­ver­sa­tions with more than 80 cur­rent and former play­ers.

Asked whether he cel­e­brated the new guide­lines ap­proved at Tues­day’s spring meet­ings, Good­ell laughed. “I did,” he said. “I can’t tell you how.” Good­ell said the moniker “No Fun League” had been thrown around since he was an intern in the league of­fice. He wel­comed the looser guide­lines, also en­dorsed by Fal­cons pres­i­dent Rich McKay, who heads the NFL com­pe­ti­tion com­mit­tee.

“The pen­du­lum had swung a long way” in re­strict­ing play­ers too much, McKay added.

The league, how­ever, will con­tinue to pe­nal­ize any cel­e­bra­tion deemed of­fen­sive or in bad taste, in­clud­ing those that em­bar­rass op­po­nents or mimic the use of weapons. If cel­e­bra­tions are deemed a vi­o­la­tion by on­field of­fi­cials, play­ers could still be pe­nal­ized un­der ex­ist­ing un­sports­man­like con­duct and taunt­ing vi­o­la­tions, as well as fined.

“Ev­ery­body has a dif­fer­ent idea where the line is,” the com­mis­sioner said.

There is no set time limit on how long such cel­e­bra­tions can con­tinue. But the league is plac­ing an em­pha­sis on speed­ing up the pace of games. The 40-sec­ond play clock will be­gin once an of­fi­cial sig­nals a touch­down and teams will have to snap the ball for their ex­tra­point play at the end of the clock. League of­fi­cials will re­view cel­e­bra­tions dur­ing the pre-sea­son and an­tic­i­pate pro­vid­ing guid­ance as the reg­u­lar sea­son pro­gresses. Former player Jon Run­yan, who is in charge of on-field dis­ci­plinary ac­tions, will hear any ap­peals for play­ers.

“I ac­tu­ally think it will be eas­ier” for of­fi­cials to de­ter­mine which cel­e­bra­tions are ap­pro­pri­ate, said Al­berto Riveron, the league’s new se­nior vice-pres­i­dent for of­fi­ci­at­ing. “But some things will still be open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion.”

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