The NFL has been dubbed “The No Fun League” for ages due in part to penalties and fines being levied for excessive celebration.
But for the first time in a long time, the league may be open to the idea of scaling back such penalties.
According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the NFL competition committee is expected to meet with former players and members of the NFL Players Association at the NFL combine this week with the subject of revising the penalties on the table.
Via Pelissero, there appears to be momentum toward making changes to the rules. There were 30 such penalties assessed last season after just 34 penalties were enforced over the previous three seasons combined. The apparent emphasis point seems to be toward the league only wanting to focus on particularly lewd and inappropriate celebrations and overly lengthy demonstrations while scaling back enforcement of shorter celebrations.
Penalties were assessed last season to Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott when he jumped into a Salvation Army bucket after a touchdown and Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas when he hugged an official after he returned an interception for a touchdown. Other penalties of harmless celebratory gestures were flagged as well. Displays like these would seem to be at the heart of the league’s interest in rolling back the degree of penalty enforcement.
Certain displays are always going to be considered excessive but the league has gone too far in cracking down on celebrations. Understanding that and being open to scaling back is a good step forward.