Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown drew a flag and a fine for his twerking touchdown celebration in the first week of the regular season and he drew another flag in last Sunday night’s win over the Chiefs after a different touchdown dance was deemed excessive by the officials.
The league didn’t have any problem celebrating Brown’s score and celebration on their Twitter account, which may be part of the reason why Steelers coach Mike Tomlin spent some of his Tuesday press conference asking for more information from the league about what Brown can and can’t do.
“We have to get some clarity in terms of what’s legal and what’s not,” Tomlin said, via ESPN.com. “I know he doesn’t want it to be a negative thing. He wants to provide positive energy for us and entertain our fans. But we have to get detailed clarity on what he can and cannot do. You’ve got to acknowledge some guys are followed more closely than others. You saw that last night with [Odell] Beckham. AB is probably one of those guys and he probably needs to respond accordingly.”
Whatever the uncertainty, one sure way for Brown to avoid flags for excessive celebration would be to limit the dancing to his offseason appearances on television shows devoted to the art form. Tomlin added that he’s not “passing judgment” on how the officials do their jobs, but wants to get a better understanding of what the league is looking for when they throw flags.
Taunting and other unsportsmanlike conduct calls have been a point of emphasis early this season with some seeming far more innocuous than others. For example, Brown’s Week One penalty violated the league’s rule against “sexually suggestive” celebrations while Vikings running back Jerrick McKinnon went unpenalized Monday night despite grabbing his crotch after scoring a touchdown. Two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties can put players in position to get ejected for a second offense, although excessive celebration calls are not included under that 2016 rule change.