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The do’s and don’ts of NFL celebrations

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 25:  Jay Ajayi #23 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates scoring the winning touchdown against the Cleveland Browns in the first quarter on September 25, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Miami defeated Cleveland 30-24.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL’s coaches and players want guidance regarding what can and can’t be done when celebrating. In his weekly media video, NFL senior V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino attempts to clear things up.

Here’s what’s allowed: (1) dancing that is not sexually suggestive; (2) celebrations with teammates that are not choreographed; (3) spiking the ball, as long as it’s not directed at an opponent; (4) spinning the ball, as long as it’s not directed to an opponent; (5) bowing to the crowd; (6) saluting; (7) going to the ground in prayer; (8) the “Lambeau Leap”; and (9) handing the ball to the official.

Here’s what isn’t permitted: (1) anything that mimics a violent act, including slashing the throat, shooting guns, and shooting arrows, whether directed at an opponent or not; (2) sexually suggestive dancing; (2) choreographed celebrations; (3) excessive celebrations; (4) prolonged celebrations; (5) spiking or spinning the ball at an opponent; (6) going to the ground; (7) using the ball as a prop; and (8) using any other props.

When it comes to sexually suggestive dancing, the NFL will apply the “know it when you see it” rule.

“If it looks like it, it probably is, and we’re trying to give our officials some consistent guidelines,” Blandino said in the video. So, basically, it’s not a matter of two pumps or three pumps. Any pumps should result in a penalty.

As to choreographed celebrations, Blandino explained that the goal is to avoid efforts by players to come up with bigger and better ways to celebrate.

“Believe me, if we let this go, it will continue to grow and certain players will continue to try to outdo each other, and then it leads to other things. Players stomping on logos, and players hitting those players stomping on logos,” Blandino said.

The rules have been on the books for years. In 2016, it has become a point of emphasis, a fancy label acknowledging that the officials haven’t been enforcing the rules properly. Blandino explained that the fouls will increase at first, and that players and coaches then will adjust.

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64 Responses to “The do’s and don’ts of NFL celebrations”
  1. thepackerpoet says: Oct 7, 2016 7:13 PM

    Notice how the class of the NFL NEVER gets flagged for crap like this. My packers. I’m a part owner. That’s why all we ever do is win championships.

    Other teams need to get it together, and you all know who you are

  2. pilatestry says: Oct 7, 2016 7:13 PM

    The NFL viewership is falling off at its sharpest rate in recent history. Players continue to kneel on the sidelines during the national anthem, yet they’re fined thousands of dollars for shooting pretend bows and arrows. For the record, I’m not actually against the sideline kneel, but I don’t understand how the NFL rules committee and marketing department aren’t noticing a correlation here.

  3. skoobyfl says: Oct 7, 2016 7:19 PM

    Stay classy.

  4. pftcancer says: Oct 7, 2016 7:21 PM

    All open to interpretation….

  5. factpurveyor says: Oct 7, 2016 7:24 PM

    The NFL should make a rule banning the weather from lowering the PSI in footballs after they are taken outdoors to be used on cold days.

    If the NFL had a rule like that prior to January 18, 2015 then deflategate would never have happened.

  6. h2beer says: Oct 7, 2016 7:24 PM

    Many people are saying that Roger Goodell secretly watches Tom Brady highlights in his Jets footies while he musters to erect a Woody Johnson.

  7. jag1959 says: Oct 7, 2016 7:24 PM

    “When it comes to sexually suggestive dancing, the NFL will apply the “know it when you see it” rule.”

    I long for the days when the know it when you see it rule still applied to catches. Back when we could trust the evidence of our eyes and have confidence in game results being on the up and up. You know, the pre Goodell days

  8. factpurveyor says: Oct 7, 2016 7:30 PM

    The dolphin mascot in that picture looks more like a dinosaur. Maybe because dinosaurs had not yet become extinct the last time the Dolphins won the superbow.

  9. elmerbrownelmerbrown says: Oct 7, 2016 7:32 PM

    Celebrate like Johnny Unitas did and you will save what Johnny made in a year

  10. MichaelEdits says: Oct 7, 2016 7:45 PM

    Based on those guidelines, Randy Moss pretending to moon the fans is allowed. And so it should be. I thought it was hilarious.

  11. firerogergoodell says: Oct 7, 2016 7:45 PM

    The players should be able to celebrate sacks and touchdowns however they want. All you have to do is keep the play clock going so they don’t go on forever. Anything over 30 seconds would be delay of game instead of these ridiculous 15 yarders and 1/2 ejection.

  12. bucsorbust says: Oct 7, 2016 7:47 PM

    We live in an NFL now where Derrick Brooks’ (Bucs SB LB) famous words yelled of “I’m going to knock your chest off” (next play) would be “taunting” and draw 15 yards. I guess today Derrick would have to shoulder tap and politely inform “When we challenge each other on the next play, I shall try to overpower you and gain a desired outcome favorable to my team where we eventually win this contest.”

    Just doesn’t seem right.

  13. dwhcic says: Oct 7, 2016 7:48 PM

    Good. Goodell sucks, thurs night football sucks, and the constant penalties are nearly unbearable. They have basically wrecked the game, people are fed up with it.

  14. noknoknokpenny says: Oct 7, 2016 7:54 PM

    Man, you make one comment about a Cleveland Steamer or a Cincinnati Bowtie and they lose their minds.

    But some dude can talk all he wants about erecting a woody Johnson and that’s ok.

    Makes me feel like I don’t want to celebrate touchdowns any more.

  15. ruffbufffire says: Oct 7, 2016 7:59 PM

    Than celebrations involving the Patriots musket shooters should be banned!!

  16. kepickle says: Oct 7, 2016 8:01 PM

    the “Lambeau Leap” should be against the rules but than the Packers would be upset & Goodell would be fired

  17. edelmanfanclub says: Oct 7, 2016 8:06 PM

    Allowed: Not having fun

    Not Allowed: Having fun

  18. silverhat78 says: Oct 7, 2016 8:13 PM

    Rule after rule, after rule. Enough with the robotic rules and worrying about “hurt feelings” because you scored a TD.

    The No Fun League is becoming its own worst enemy and could lead to its own downfall.

  19. broncosaddict says: Oct 7, 2016 8:46 PM

    A lot of players (and fans) don’t seem to realize you can have fun, be an individual, and act professional all at the same time. People do it everyday in every walk in life without having to be told or micromanaged….except the NFL.
    In the NFL, everything that is common sense to the rest of the world has to be written down as a rule or in the labor agreement.

  20. charger383 says: Oct 7, 2016 8:49 PM

    Dunking the ball over the goalpost should be allowed if you can do it

  21. charger383 says: Oct 7, 2016 8:50 PM

    some players care more about celebration than actually scoring a TD

  22. bubbybrister/shovelpass says: Oct 7, 2016 8:52 PM

    So Tebowing is still allowed .. As long as you don’t touch your knee to the ground… Whew!

  23. scrp2 says: Oct 7, 2016 8:52 PM

    After a few beers on a party bus Blandino is actually a pretty fun guy.

  24. patsfan says: Oct 7, 2016 8:55 PM

    same clarity they brought to the “catch rule”

    I used to know what it meant. Now nobody does.

  25. bubbybrister/shovelpass says: Oct 7, 2016 8:56 PM

    None of these rules were needed during the patriots last game…

  26. mykelane says: Oct 7, 2016 9:13 PM

    Oh but you can assault a kicking net or only do a two pump twerk (E.Sanders) and not get fined

  27. patsfan112 says: Oct 7, 2016 9:21 PM

    I hope Brady pulls all the “don’ts” this weekend just to stick it to Goodell.

  28. artic19 says: Oct 7, 2016 9:29 PM

    thepackerpoet says:
    Oct 7, 2016 7:13 PM
    Notice how the class of the NFL NEVER gets flagged for crap like this. My packers. I’m a part owner. That’s why all we ever do is win championships.

    Other teams need to get it together, and you all know who you are

    Yes, we’ve noticed how the Packers never get flagged………….
    for anything

  29. gauchosporlife says: Oct 7, 2016 9:35 PM

    How bout…giving the ball to the ref and act like you’ve been there?

  30. cowboy2016 says: Oct 7, 2016 9:36 PM

    Do fire Goodell.
    Don’t look back.

  31. moondog7 says: Oct 7, 2016 9:51 PM

    What is the reason for no fun celebrations? The TO ocho cinco and joe horn stuff was so great back in the day. Why are they fining guys 10k for pretending to shoot a bow and arrow. Why is there taunting penalties is this 5th grade gym class? Political correctness killing this country and game.

    Football is a game and entertainment not a suit and tie 9-5 climb the latter job. They are seriously ruining the game. I have watched less this year than previous years. Thursday nights and London games should be done away with. GET IT TOGEHER NFL.

  32. liontuss says: Oct 7, 2016 10:23 PM

    I’m going to have an excessive and suggestive celebration when Goodell retires in good health.

  33. ninnerfansince2012 says: Oct 7, 2016 10:31 PM

    The NFL should make a rule banning the weather from lowering the PSI in footballs after they are taken outdoors to be used on cold days.

    If the NFL had a rule like that prior to January 18, 2015 then deflategate would never have happened.


    Ummm….The ballboy (The Deflator?) deflated the balls with Brady’s knowledge (lost cell phone?). Quit twisting the story. Man up. Take your punishment.
    Man, you people in Boston….
    Pat’s and Brady’s records will always be tainted.

  34. rollsieboys says: Oct 7, 2016 10:32 PM

    i dunno, the 49ers/cowboys game of years ago where TO ran to midfield and posed on the star was the stuff of legends.

  35. grandmasterslacks says: Oct 7, 2016 10:33 PM

    Hit them as hard as you can! But whatever you do, don’t hurt them in the feels.

  36. jargon47 says: Oct 7, 2016 10:36 PM

    thepackerpoet says:
    Oct 7, 2016 7:13 PM
    “I’m a part owner.”


    By ‘part owner’ do you mean the Packers tricked you into paying money for a fake ‘stock’ in the team. You essentially got a worthless certificate saying “hey guy! thanks for the money! you can vote on stuff but you ‘part owners’ don’ have anywhere near enough ownership percentage to actually pass anything.” Enjoy your ‘stock’ that is printed on the back of a Chinese Restaurant placemat.

  37. medialovesthecowboys says: Oct 7, 2016 10:43 PM

    You know what’s really funny?
    They used to say that excessive celebrations interrupt the “flow of the game”
    Yet you’re allowed to jump into the bleachers with the fans and that’s not disruptive.


  38. nufcedmcgreevey says: Oct 7, 2016 10:51 PM

    We don’t know what a catch is, we don’t know what PI is, we don’t know what defensive holding is or hitting a guy within 5 yards is or a pick play penalty. We have no idea what a penalty is for hitting a receiver but we know it when we see a celebration flag is

  39. dynastyfootballforme says: Oct 7, 2016 10:56 PM

    Rules for saving viewership:
    1) Stick head in sand

  40. pftthoughtpolicemostwanted says: Oct 7, 2016 11:24 PM

    They’re all don’ts to me because I stopped watching due to the the racist, anti-America players the teams in the league employ.

  41. FancyNaturals says: Oct 7, 2016 11:26 PM

    Trent Cole is an accomplished bow hunter and has been doing bow & arrow celebrations for a dozen years after almost every sack. And he has a lot of sacks. He’s never been flagged for it (thankfully).

    The NFL needs to stop with this ridiculous hypocrisy.

  42. suhmonster90 says: Oct 7, 2016 11:38 PM

    Then they are not following the rules. Flexing is not sexually suggestive or violent and I saw Hyde get flagged for it.

  43. Drifter62 says: Oct 7, 2016 11:44 PM

    I can do without the celebrations

  44. wtfchiefs says: Oct 7, 2016 11:52 PM

    I’m just glad the NFL instituted some new rules. I really thought the game was under-officiated as it stands. Hopefully these rules lead to more commercials.

  45. steelbydesign says: Oct 8, 2016 12:05 AM

    “Believe me, if we let this go, it will continue to grow and certain players will continue to try to outdo each other, and then it leads to other things.”


    Other things… like someone might have fun, or god forbid someone might be entertained!!

  46. rollotomasi14 says: Oct 8, 2016 12:11 AM

    Notice how the class of the NFL NEVER gets flagged for crap like this. My packers. I’m a part owner. That’s why all we ever do is win championships.

    What are you talking about? In the last 8 seasons of Rodgers starting, they’ve won 1 championship. In the other 7 seasons combined they’ve only won three postseason games. That’s pathetic.

  47. bills72284 says: Oct 8, 2016 12:20 AM

    maybe tell us the do’s and dont’s about fumbles and catches instead of touchdown celebrations would be more beneficiary to teams and players

    realize these guys score a touchdown could be life changing for them in terms of their future and could earn roster spots just because they get excited doesnt warrant a fine

  48. mccarthyisamoron says: Oct 8, 2016 12:33 AM

    I’d do The Charleston.

  49. sdchicken says: Oct 8, 2016 1:29 AM

    If you celebrate a first down in the NFL you should be benched by your coach

  50. maddenisfordorks says: Oct 8, 2016 1:51 AM

    It seems like they’re just making things up as they go along.

    Always an awesome plan for success.

  51. maumontav5 says: Oct 8, 2016 2:31 AM

    Grabbing players by their kitty is also frowned upon.

  52. giambocca says: Oct 8, 2016 2:34 AM

    As per Factpurveyors comment the league can prevent cold air from changing the pressure in the balls by inflating them with nitrogen. Might be a good idea !!

  53. bostonisthebestandyouallsukk says: Oct 8, 2016 3:07 AM

    All patriots posters on here for the Godell story – I love it!

  54. sixringslikeatelephone says: Oct 8, 2016 4:53 AM

    I really appreciate the NFL prohibiting “suggestive dancing.”

    This halftime show is brought to you by Cialis.

  55. littleseizures says: Oct 8, 2016 8:10 AM

    I’m surprised the center/QB exchange is allowed seeing as it could be viewed as sexually suggestive. Shotgun snaps only from this point forward.

  56. jkossrt says: Oct 8, 2016 8:24 AM

    Celebrations have really gotten totally out of control. I am so sick of watching players celebrate after making a 5 yard catch or running or a first down after a second and 5. Or celebrating a TD when their team is down by 20 pts. Professionalism must a thing of the past. Really getting tired of the self serving look at me prima donnas. I think that may be a big contributing factor to ratings declines.

  57. polegojim says: Oct 8, 2016 8:38 AM

    Do your job and score

    Celebrate with team mates who helped you get there.

    Go to the sidelines.

    Much more than than is just immature glory hounding by guys with grade school emotional make up.

  58. baltimoresnativeson says: Oct 8, 2016 9:00 AM

    Then why wasn’t Emmanuel Sanders penalized for twerking?

  59. JSpicoli says: Oct 8, 2016 10:49 AM

    Further ruination to the game

  60. JSpicoli says: Oct 8, 2016 10:50 AM

    The next superstar that acts like Barry Sanders after he scores a touchdown is going to have his popularity go through the ceiling

  61. ReligionIsForIdiots says: Oct 8, 2016 11:34 AM

    I sit during the song played before games.

  62. tacowrecker says: Oct 8, 2016 12:25 PM

    Football itself is a “violent act.” Seems to me that the majority of Goodell’s/the League’s decisions of late are just attempts at union busting by sticking it to the players however they can

  63. ezpkns34 says: Oct 8, 2016 1:01 PM

    I, too, watch NFL games & hate to see the players get excited about scoring TDs

  64. bigdaddystyle says: Oct 8, 2016 1:25 PM

    If the networks would just not show the celebrations, they would stop acting like idiots and hand the ball over to the ref. Cut to the crowd or the sideline.

    But since this stuff ends up on ESPN etc, these guys are always going to try to make the highlights.

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