By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL takes everything so seriously.
That much has been evident over the last several years when players who had the audacity to celebrate during the very solemn occasions that are football games were penalized 15 yards. Whether it was a dance, going to the ground, using the football as a prop, or simply doing anything with a teammate that looked “choreographed,” players watched in amazement as the yellow flags would fly.
Well, having solved all of its other problems, the NFL made it a top priority this offseason to give players some more freedom with regard to celebration. And so with training camps open across the country, the league sent a video to teams in order to teach players what is and is not allowed.
The results are comical.
There’s just something inherently hilarious about a no-nonsense, no-fun group of people creating an instructional video telling other people how they are and are not allowed to have certain kinds of fun. It’s very clear that cool-cat-dancing-with-Antonio-Brown-on-some-social-media-app-the-kids-are-using Roger Goodell signed off on this video.
Troy Vincent shared the whole video — which features new head of officiating Alberto Riveron, the man who turned DeflateGate into a national nightmare — and you are certainly free to watch it all. You have the NFL’s permission. But for those of you who don’t have 10 minutes to watch a workplace training video, here are a few of the highlights.
“We heard about ways to make our game better and more efficient. We also heard the need for you to express yourself,” Vincent says in the open. “We acted on many of your suggestions. The guidelines on celebrating are changing to allow more spontaneous expressions while maintaining standards of sportsmanship and the respect that you told us were important to all players.”
All right, NFL players. Here’s a blueprint for how you can partake in some spontaneous expressions!!
It is legal to hold a football and shimmy, and then pretend to make a golf putt:
The “LEGAL ACTION” text is just tremendous. Though it’s a bit subtle. I would’ve made it more clear:
While the NFL could’ve been better, at least this has been cleared up. Should we focus on how absurd it was that it was ever deemed illegal in the first place? No! It’s legal now — and if you want to celebrate that fact, you have the NFL’s permission.
Go ahead. Celebrate. Not too much. OK, nice job.
On to the next one:
This one’s going to be tough to swallow for the legions of fans who get offended by seeing a football player on the ground, but the NFL is boldly allowing players to actually put their bodies on the turf if they are so inclined.
Frankly, I didn’t expect the NFL to be this grateful, and the fact that the league is willing to deal with the backlash that will come with folks who are horrified by seeing football players not standing upright? Well, frankly, building monuments for all the men involved with that decision should not be ruled out.
The inscription under the statues can be a simple quote which spotlights the bravery of these men: “Henceforth … a player going to the ground … shall be deemed … a … LEGAL ACTION!”
Next up, group celebrations:
Now you see how not one, not two, but THREE Buccaneers have their arms raised over their head to celebrate a sack? Naturally, your instinct would be to stomp your feet and shout, “That should be illegal!” And up until now, you have been right!
But sadly and strangely, the NFL is going against nature and saying that such an action is now … LEGAL.
And, heck, hey, guess what? If Clinton McDonald wants to join in on the fun and be the fourth person to raise his arms in celebration? He can do it. He is now allowed to do it.
It’s obvious that the average fan will not take kindly to such monumental changes to the game they know and love, but fear not — these players aren’t allowed to just run roughshod all over the league however they see fit. No siree, there are still rules here.
Doing a famous butt dance? No way.
And humping the air? Of course not.
Of course, such drastic changes are sure to inspire some confusion. But the NFL tried to get out ahead of it.
But NFL, you may be wondering, what if I want to pretend to perform a golf putt (which was previously very illegal) and I also want to use the pylon?
The NFL would reply, sternly, “No, my dear child. That’s 15 yards. A true sportsman would never use the pylon as a putter.”
Also, if any players are thinking they can spontaneously express themselves by crossing many lines by hugging the goalpost? Well, they’re in for a rude awakening. Such a spontaneous expression is strictly forbidden.
And finally, before you get too worried, the answer is yes — it’s still illegal to jump into a big red pot on the field, even if it draws significant attention to a charity.
We just can’t allow such a thing to take place. Children may be watching.
And so we all welcome in this new era of football, one full of spontaneous expressions … but nothing too spontaneous. Nobody wants to see too much spontaneity.