by Brooke Jordan, UFSocial Contributor
Whatever happened to the simple two arms in the air in the shape of goal posts to celebrate a touchdown? How about a high-five, a handshake, a hug, maybe a collective jump in the air?
In today’s football world, the touchdown dance has evolved into a culture. From spikes to horse-riding to bow-and-arrows to booty pops, players almost seem to have a planned celebration when they cross the goal line.
But how far is too far?
Since the 1980s, the NFL started penalizing and fining athletes for the excessive celebrations. League officials say, “It’s about the team, not the individual.” And this is true. But as a fan – we have to admit – the celebrations are what we look forward to the most.
This argument gets brought up after Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver Antonio Brown twerked after scoring a TD against the Washington Redskins on Monday night to start the 2016 TD celebrations.
The star was flagged for a 15-yard penalty and is expected to be fined around $12,000. Ok, the booty popping is definitely a little inappropriate. But let’s be honest, it’s part of our social culture.
How many singers and artists do you see pop, lock, and dropping it on the stage? And they are wearing much more risque clothing. Tell me which one seems more inappropriate to you.
So while I understand the NFL wants to maintain the integrity of the game, it’s hard to keep the cultural influence out, completely. Getting rid of unnecessary props (T.O.’s sharpie or Joe Horn’s cell phone, anyone?) – yes. But not allowing the athletes who work so hard for every yard to have a five minute moment to remember, I’ll call an excessive penalty on that.
So here are my Top 5 “Fine” TD Celebrations from the 2015 season:
So the twerk clearly wasn’t Brown’s first performance.
After a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown, Brown literally jumped into the goal post. Brown was not only flagged on the play, but also asked to cut the NFL a check for $11,576.
Now first, Brown could’ve seriously been hurt on this play, so Mike Tomlin probably pulled his star receiver to the side and let him have it. But can we can get some props for the security guard who hardly flinches? Regardless, no one was hurt and the man just ran his fourth career punt return for touchdown. No one else seems to be able to slow him down, so why not the goal post?
Ok, this one is little more – shall we say – “dirtier” than the Brown goal post dive, but still, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin just took a dump on the Patriots D, so he deserves a little relief.
Baldwin squatted down and pretended to poop in the end zone – earning him a penalty and a $11,025 fine. He later told reporters, “I mean I was just out there having fun, enjoying the game of football. The explanation, I don’t know. There’s no explanation. You play this game for so long, you go out there, you have fun.”
Amen, Doug Baldwin. He was just having fun. It’s nature… we can all relate to it. And why yes, maybe squatting down isn’t exactly the most clean celebration, it’s not like it really hurt anybody.
Ok, this one I won’t argue. In the NFC Championship game, Seattle Seahawks running back dashed into the end zone for a 21-yard TD. As he crossed the goal line, he turns around and grabs his groin area, clearly gesturing to the Green Bay Packers defense. Lynch was flagged and fined $20,000 from the league.
This, like Brown’s booty shake, is all about cultural influence. I get it… it’s very inappropriate and with millions watching – especially children – Lynch probably could’ve gotten his message across in a less, shall we say, explicit way.
But in today’s culture, he was signifying power and greatness. It was his way of saying, “You can’t stop me” to the Green Bay defense. And, I mean, they didn’t so he had a point?
Now this one is ridiculous. Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman returned a pick-six to the house against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and galloped his way through the end zone. He was docked a penalty and fined $8,681 for the horseback ride.
Norman said in his appeal he asked current fines appeal officer and former Tampa Bay Bucs great Derrick Brooks if the celebration was legal, and Brooks said yes. Ok, so there is your answer. Why is he being fined? He didn’t do anything inappropriate or make any gestures while galloping around. Exhibit A of the No Fun League.
Even though he may have caught the Arizona Cardinals defense napping, St. Louis Rams receiver Stedman Bailey was the one who was caught napping, literally. After Bailey hauled in a 18-yard score, he dropped to the ground and used the football as a pillow to go to sleep. Although a flag wasn’t thrown, he was later fined for $8,681.
Bailey said the meaning was simple: “Everybody counted us out, so it was just a message to the world not to sleep on the Rams.”
Point made, point taken. Nobody hurting nobody. So why is he getting fined? Even the Rams twitter feed used the celebration to increase team spirit.
My point is: let these guys have some fun. They work hard to earn the league billions of dollars, so they should be allowed to have one minute to relax, let loose, and be themselves. Sure, if the celebration is truly excessive and involves inappropriate gestures or props, then yes throw the flag and make them pay. But for something simple, there should be no consequences. Scoring a touchdown in the NFL is hard work and a privilege, so the players should be allowed to celebrate in whatever manner they want.