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Johnson, Gailey see inconsistent enforcement of celebration penalties

Steve Johnson AP

Bills coach Chan Gailey benched receiver Stevie Johnson on Sunday after Johnson picked up a celebration penalty for displaying a “Happy New Year” message on his undershirt. But while Gailey and Johnson may not have been happy with each other on the sideline Sunday, they agreed about one thing after the game: They question why a flag was thrown.

Gailey said he’d like an explanation from the NFL about why the rule against messages on uniforms hasn’t been enforced uniformly. Gailey noted that in 2010, Johnson lifted up his jersey to reveal a T-shirt with “Why so serious?” written on it, and Johnson wasn’t flagged for that.

“It happened last year,” Gailey said. “He put a message on his shirt and showed his shirt and didn’t get flagged. And he does it this year and gets flagged. Which one is it?”

Johnson agreed, saying that he asked the official for an explanation and wasn’t satisfied with what he was told.

He said it was excessive celebration, too many people around,” Johnson said on WGR, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. “And used a prop. I didn’t know my undershirt was a prop. With me not being flagged for it last year, I didn’t see why it should’ve been a flag this time. . . . They need to be consistent with the rule. If they would’ve flagged me last year, of course, I never would have done it again.”

Johnson and Gailey are right that the officials haven’t enforced the rule consistently, and they’re right that officials failing to enforce rules consistently is a problem in the NFL. But just because they didn’t flag him last season doesn’t mean they were wrong to flag him this season. The officials apparently didn’t notice the “Why so serious” shirt in 2010, but the league office made clear by fining Johnson that such messages aren’t allowed.

If Johnson and Gailey want to argue that the rules should be changed, and players should have the freedom to celebrate the way they want, that’s a discussion worth having. But unless Johnson succeeds in convincing the NFL to change that rule this offseason, he’d be wise to curtail his celebrations going forward.

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50 Responses to “Johnson, Gailey see inconsistent enforcement of celebration penalties”
  1. sudz28 says: Jan 4, 2012 2:08 PM

    Johnson needs to do less celebrating and more holding onto the football. He’s making himself and his team look foolish with these ridiculous theatrics. Go ahead Stevie, blame God again.

  2. gatherspeed says: Jan 4, 2012 2:11 PM

    First, Johnson is a fool.

    Second, the officiating has been awful this year.

    Third, these rules changes are out of control. There never will be a great defense again based on the new rules.

    Might was well root for the CFL.

  3. nxsteven says: Jan 4, 2012 2:13 PM

    MDS… Why so serious?

  4. terrellpryorstattooartist says: Jan 4, 2012 2:14 PM

    Really? This is what you guys are worried about going into the offseason really?!?!?

  5. citizenstrange says: Jan 4, 2012 2:14 PM

    Tell it to James Harrison.

  6. emoney12 says: Jan 4, 2012 2:15 PM

    If you don’t do stupid things like this, then it’s never a flag. Stop trying to be Ochocinco and TO. I bet you TO wished he had some of that fine money back because he is broke.

  7. ny82jy says: Jan 4, 2012 2:16 PM

    Regardless if he was fined or penalized for it last year or not. I look at it like this, he cost them in the jets game big with his shoot himself in the leg celebration. That should have been enough for him to say to himself im gonna go finish the year quietly and when i score im gonna show some class and be quiet. But no hes another me guy and a selfish guy. Even after hurting the Bills bad in the Jets game with his antics he still premeditates another celebration that he thinks he can get away with and he didnt. Now they want a explanation. The explanation is Stevie is a dumba**, he doesnt learn ever, and hes a me player who wants everyone to look at him.. Hand the ball to the ref and act like you have scored before.

  8. aneaglesfan says: Jan 4, 2012 2:18 PM

    all this noise from a team that wins the first 4-6 games a year then cant win the rest of the year. maybe that has something to do with it

  9. TJ says: Jan 4, 2012 2:19 PM

    The No Fun League. Let Stevie celebrate.

  10. sj39 says: Jan 4, 2012 2:20 PM

    No kidding. Try the Lambeau Leap by any other team in any other stadium.

  11. FinFan68 says: Jan 4, 2012 2:20 PM

    If players did not do those ridiculous “look at me” attention craving demonstrations–they are not celebrations–they wouldn’t get the attention from the refs. He got lucky last year; this time it cost his team.

  12. salmen76 says: Jan 4, 2012 2:20 PM

    Hey, whiny Bills coaches and players listen up. I got a news flash for ya. Win some football games and quit whining about stuff over which you have complete control. Thats why the Bills are losers. Too many me me me players like the eagles and jets. 3 teams which are NOT in the playoffs! Nuff said. Geaux Saints! This is our time!

  13. yevrag3535 says: Jan 4, 2012 2:24 PM

    Cgan learn to coach also, your teams get going and then loose all there gas.

  14. mikeeg says: Jan 4, 2012 2:24 PM

    Fail

  15. stubbyjones says: Jan 4, 2012 2:25 PM

    Dear Mr Commisioner. As a NFL fan, is it too much to ask to have some sort of consistency in officiating? Not just the celebration flags, but holy man, the PI calls, the roughing the passer, the each time you breathe on Brady you get a flag, is it really so much to ask? Can you have a training camp for officials?

    The same game where Stevie Johnson was flagged, Aaron hernandez didnt get a flag for blatant taunting…which is it?

    The same game where Drayton Florence barely pushed Tom Brady, who acted in all his soccer glory, and drew a flag for “driving the defender into the ground” What the hell is that?

  16. tbpdog says: Jan 4, 2012 2:25 PM

    It’s a joke how the NFL selectively enforces these celebration rules.

  17. wuzupfolks says: Jan 4, 2012 2:26 PM

    um, to salmen76…Saints are done this weekend pal…won’t be able to stop Mr. Stafford…ever heard of him?

  18. riverhorsey says: Jan 4, 2012 2:31 PM

    Gailey might want to worry more about how his team fell to 6-10 after starting 5-2 and losing 8 out of the last 9.

  19. jm1122 says: Jan 4, 2012 2:32 PM

    …come on nfl…let’s see more celebrations and less kneeling while trying to communicate telepathically with your imaginary friend in the sky…

  20. redmond4480 says: Jan 4, 2012 2:33 PM

    If the NFL doesn’t control these clowns whats next? These attention deprived showboats will be in the end zone doing line dances with a mariachi band.

  21. ravenspit says: Jan 4, 2012 2:38 PM

    I’ve got to agree with sj39-why is it okay for a Packer player to draw the entire stadium’s attention to themselveby jumping into the stands? Not saying right or wrong-but pretty damn inconsistent.

  22. randomguy9999 says: Jan 4, 2012 2:38 PM

    it doesnt matter if it didn’t get called one tie long ago… it is the stupidest thing in football blowing 15 yards over that and giving the other team a better shot at a TD

    whats more disturbing is that the coach KNOWS its a violation and he’s choosing to whine about how it didn’t get called last year… huh?

  23. westclaims says: Jan 4, 2012 2:41 PM

    Just watch Fitz on the Cards. Class act.

    No need to celebrate, make a fool of yourself, and cost your team a penalty.

  24. ilovefoolsball says: Jan 4, 2012 2:42 PM

    The Lambeau leap has been long overdue for a celebration penalty.

    The NFL will fine a guy for putting a bow on a football and handing it gently to a fan but won’t fine a player for forcefully jumping into the stands with full pads & helmet on. Brilliant.

  25. romangabriel says: Jan 4, 2012 2:53 PM

    Who exactly are these guys???

  26. rufustfireflyjr says: Jan 4, 2012 2:57 PM

    The officiating in general is inconsistent. Why would the enforcement of the endzone celebration rules be any different?

  27. mrizzo44 says: Jan 4, 2012 2:58 PM

    ny82jy says: Jan 4, 2012 2:16 PM

    Regardless if he was fined or penalized for it last year or not. I look at it like this, he cost them in the jets game big with his shoot himself in the leg celebration.

    —————————————————–

    How does one “cost their team the game” by getting a penalty IN THE FIRST HALF?

    4th quarter? Sure. But first half? Please…

  28. bamasleeper13 says: Jan 4, 2012 3:04 PM

    I wish some of these guys would look at film of Barry Sanders. He would make a touchdown, flip the ball to the official and go back to work. No showboating, no dancing, class act. Most of all no penalties!!!!

  29. ny82jy says: Jan 4, 2012 3:04 PM

    @mrizzo44

    You obviously didnt watch that game if you are asking that question. Try watching the game and see what that penalty led to on the kickoff after it. It changed the game.

  30. tnmke says: Jan 4, 2012 3:05 PM

    Give me a break. The Lambeau leap is copied by other players in other stadiums from time to time and it is NEVER flagged.

    Also, for those who think the Packers get special treatment, Ryan Grant was flagged for making a faux-snow angel while laying on the ground last week.

  31. banderson005 says: Jan 4, 2012 3:06 PM

    What happen to flipping the ball to the official? It’s a team game, I’m ok with a spike, quick dance, but the antics should stop.

  32. lumas101 says: Jan 4, 2012 3:10 PM

    IF Gailey wants Stevie back (and I do think that’s a legitimate question) his reaction both during the game and after is the perfect response. The benching shows the whole team, but especially Stevie, that he has a no tolerance policy regarding celebration penalties. But then he tells Stevie hey, I thought you could do that, too. I’m going to stand up for you and question the league on it. This makes Stevie feel like Chan is in his corner while still letting him know that screw ups won’t be tolerated.

  33. critter69 says: Jan 4, 2012 3:25 PM

    mrizzo44 ??

    Any scores in the first half don’t count?

    I thought the final score was for ALL FOUR QUARTERS. If Team A scores 35 points in the first half and 0 in the second half, and Team B scores 0 points in the first half and 28 in the second half, I always thought Team A won the game 35-28. Or is it your opinion that only those points scored in the second half count, thus Team B won 28-0?

    As to rule changes? Did the officials spot the ball on the old hash marks when they moved them in towards the center of the field, or did they spot the ball at the moved marks?

    In basketball, do some refs call for a center tip after every basket, or do they ALL allow for the opposing team to take the ball out under the basket? For that matter, do they call out the step-ladders to get the ball out of the peach basket after every made goal?

    In other words, the rules change, and if the players can’t take into account the change in rules, do they deserve to play?

    Oh, and it wasn’t a flag for celebrating – it was a flag for celebrating with a prop.

    As to the Packers jumping into the stands? I’m sure that as soon as the NFL tells the Packers to not do that, the Packer players will stop doing that. Maybe the NFL will tell the Packers to stop doing that this off-season. But since they are celebrating without a prop (the wall and wall height, distance to the stands, and the stands are permanent fixtures, thus not a prop as defined by the NFL), they are within the rules as the rules are currently written. (And I say that as a Packer-hater.)

  34. rcali says: Jan 4, 2012 3:35 PM

    Wait till he signs that new contract. He may make Santonio Holmes look like a star teammate.

  35. mrizzo44 says: Jan 4, 2012 3:44 PM

    ny82jy says: Jan 4, 2012 3:04 PM

    @mrizzo44

    You obviously didnt watch that game if you are asking that question. Try watching the game and see what that penalty led to on the kickoff after it. It changed the game.

    —————————————————-

    I watched the game. Yes, he drew a penalty. Yes, the scrub kicker botched the following kickoff. Yes, the Jets scored on the ensuing possession (like they wouldn’t have marched down the field and scored anyways, against Buffalo’s pathetic excuse for a defense).

    So what? It was the first half. The game was tied after the Jets scored on the next possession. The Bills had 32 minutes left to win the game after Johnson’s penalty.

    A 15 yard penalty, 28 minutes into the game, should not determine the outcome.

  36. CKL says: Jan 4, 2012 3:53 PM

    westclaims says:
    Jan 4, 2012 2:41 PM
    Just watch Fitz on the Cards. Class act.
    _________________________________
    He has to be close to being the most universally respected (as a human being) WR in the league. Not only is he fantastically talented, he’s a warrior to boot (REAL warriors don’t draw attention to their injuries…get it Ben??). Just watching him this last game when his team had no playoff spot to play for and he’s out there making insane catches in between coughing up blood. He’s amazing. Surely there can’t be a single fan who wouldn’t want this guy on their team.

    As for Stevie, I admit I didn’t know it was a penalty to do what he did on the sidelines and he was off the field of play when he did it IIRC. That said, he’s done it enough times and has been warned by his HC (who disappointingly seems to be backtracking a little by questioning it now) that the next player to get one of those penalties has to take a seat on the bench. If they wanted to question this, query the NFL privately. It looks dumb to do it publicly.

  37. buffalomafia says: Jan 4, 2012 4:18 PM

    Let the players celebrate!

  38. jlb10 says: Jan 4, 2012 4:33 PM

    i agree with both of them that the refs and or league are not consistent. take for example the broncos-jets game. after tebow scores what ends up being the winning td his teammates swarm him and there is a big dog pile out of the back of the end zone. no flag.
    same thing in the raiders-lions game. after what would be the game winning td the lions had a huge dog pile in the end zone. no flag again.
    in both cases a flag should have been thrown and thus moving the kickoff back 15 yards and potentially setting up a score to possibly win the game.
    some games the dog pile is called. others it is not.
    refs suck! nfl needs to make them full time employees

  39. vbuz says: Jan 4, 2012 4:52 PM

    Nothing can be written on a t-shirt but the packers can run and leap up into the stands. Do the elite teams get a pass on what is excessive because it is termed a “tradition”? Just asking..

  40. countyk66ers says: Jan 4, 2012 4:56 PM

    I thought giving Ryan Grant a penalty for making a snow angel in the end zone last week was a little excessive.

  41. packergalmke says: Jan 4, 2012 5:07 PM

    If you think this is bad, Ryan Grant of the Packers was on the ground in the end zone after running 80 yards for a touchdown. While on the ground he made a “snow angel.” He was flagged for excessive celebration. Making a snow angel is excessive???? Goddell needs to bring these refs in and maybe fire a few for being idiots.

  42. maybergnye2009 says: Jan 4, 2012 5:24 PM

    I cant believe a millionaire football player cant figure out how to get a custom T-printed. Thats the real crime. This is 2012, not 2011, their are plenty of places where he could easily purchase a custom screened printed Happy New Years celebratory undershirt. Must be the stench from loserville rotting his brain.

  43. sirthorazine says: Jan 4, 2012 5:27 PM

    Why have I not seen an article on the “roughing the QB” penalty thrown on Florence when he threw a block at Tom Brady who rushing to tackle Nick Barnett after he intercepted a pass.

    Doesn’t Brady become a defense player at that point?

    Is a simple shoulder block a roughing the passer call??

    This is what happened. I still haven’t been able to get an explanation. Far more serious than this goofy story.

  44. granadafan says: Jan 4, 2012 6:00 PM

    Let the players celebrate some. Soccer has some great celebrations, and no one cares. That said, the rules are in place, and little Stevie has been warned over and over again. If he (and Gailey) don’t get it now, they never will. He was incredibly selfish and egotistical. Gailey did the right thing by benching him, but apparently he didn’t get it.

    Just stop the stupid celebrations. It’s not that hard to comprehend.

  45. CKL says: Jan 5, 2012 2:41 AM

    packergalmke says:
    Jan 4, 2012 5:07 PM
    If you think this is bad, Ryan Grant of the Packers was on the ground in the end zone after running 80 yards for a touchdown. While on the ground he made a “snow angel.” He was flagged for excessive celebration. Making a snow angel is excessive???? Goddell needs to bring these refs in and maybe fire a few for being idiots.
    ________________________________
    He’ll probably get a HUMONGOUS fine. Wes Welker did one in 08 and got fined 10k. So I think the next time guys want to celebrate, the heck with the innocuous stuff. Go cheap. Go find the opposing QB and twist his head around and slam him to the ground. That’s only $7,500 for the first time.

  46. footballtalk2012 says: Jan 5, 2012 9:47 AM

    Mr. Bergnye,

    You can’t be serious. Of course Stevie Johnson knows how to get a custom printed T. This article is about inconsistent flagging in the NFL, not about the quality of Stevie’s T-shirt. I for one thought his shirt was hilarious and that Coach Gailey has an excellent point. You, sir, must be some kind of idiot to think that the Buffalo Bills record has anything to do with the availability of custom printed T-shirt shops in the Buffalo area. As a football expert, I know Buffalo has a bustling economy with at LEAST 10 custom printed T-shirt shops! Good Day!

    maybergnye2009 says: Jan 4, 2012 5:24 PM

    I cant believe a millionaire football player cant figure out how to get a custom T-printed. Thats the real crime. This is 2012, not 2011, their are plenty of places where he could easily purchase a custom screened printed Happy New Years celebratory undershirt. Must be the stench from loserville rotting his brain.

  47. captaini says: Jan 5, 2012 11:30 AM

    Idiots:

    StevIe Johnson Is the man and he Is one of the people -yea he could get a new custom prInted shIrt but he Is down to earth man! Plus he Is working for contract year so maybe he don’t have the cash. No problem cause next year we’re gonna get hIm up In CIncI when the loser bIlls dont resIgn hIm and OH! he gonna play good wIth the ChIlI we’ll feed hIm!

    JR

    Mr. Bergnye,

    You can’t be serious. Of course Stevie Johnson knows how to get a custom printed T. This article is about inconsistent flagging in the NFL, not about the quality of Stevie’s T-shirt. I for one thought his shirt was hilarious and that Coach Gailey has an excellent point. You, sir, must be some kind of idiot to think that the Buffalo Bills record has anything to do with the availability of custom printed T-shirt shops in the Buffalo area. As a football expert, I know Buffalo has a bustling economy with at LEAST 10 custom printed T-shirt shops! Good Day!

    maybergnye2009 says: Jan 4, 2012 5:24 PM

    I cant believe a millionaire football player cant figure out how to get a custom T-printed. Thats the real crime. This is 2012, not 2011, their are plenty of places where he could easily purchase a custom screened printed Happy New Years celebratory undershirt. Must be the stench from loserville rotting his brain.

  48. hunternuts says: Jan 5, 2012 11:37 AM

    Captain I has a point. Their Chili is delicious

  49. footballtalk2012 says: Jan 5, 2012 2:14 PM

    Chili?!?!

    He’s gotten good eating the wings in B-U-F-al-O! You’re chili can’t touch Anchor Bar wings. East Aurora High School Football RULES!

    –Bojangles

  50. ramones123 says: Jan 6, 2012 11:21 PM

    first off . stevie needs to stop. second if a coach wanted him to celebrate they would call a time out. example when drew brees broke marinos record. the whole stadium got to celebrate. for an extra 30 seconds.

    3.
    4rth who wrote that
    5th it wasn’t the anchor bar wings its the mighty taco
    6th east aurora sucks.

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