Earlier this morning, I argued that the NFL should handle improper celebrations not with penalties imposed against the team but with fines imposed against the player. And, of course, the opposite is actually what may happen.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL actually may dump the fines but still throw penalty flags.
That approach would eliminate a large amount of the criticism that the NFL experiences, with the No-Fun-League no longer picking player pockets. Still, moving the kickoff point from the 35 to the 20 could have a major impact on a game. What if there’s a borderline celebration after a go-ahead touchdown late in a Super Bowl, resulting in the team that’s losing getting an enhanced chance at tying the game or winning it? (Under current rules, that should have happened at the end of Super Bowl XLIII.)
Also, a penalty for illegal celebrations essentially guarantees that there will be an extra kickoff return. With the NFL trying to legislate that play out of the game, that’s definitely a reason for penalty flags not to be thrown for celebration violations.
As a practical matter, this approach shifts the focus to the teams, and it gives the teams an even greater incentive to insist on compliance and accountability. With the league no longer punishing the player who celebrates in a manner that draws a flag, maybe the coach will be more willing to do so himself.