Dean Blandino: Celebration changes are about reaching millennials


Why did the NFL decide this year to ease up on celebration penalties? The league’s former head of officiating says it’s about reaching a younger audience.

Dean Blandino, who left the league office to join FOX this month, told Colin Cowherd that the league wants to make sure it’s not too stuffy for millennials

“I think that part of it is trying to reach the millennial and this new age of fans and having more fun,” Blandino said. “And there was a committee, I was part of that committee with different people at the league office in looking at our game, looking at in-game downtime, looking at how our fans watch the game, looking at eye-tracking technology and where their eyes are going.”

Blandino said the league has been talking for some time about needing to change its image among younger fans, and the movement to revise the celebration penalties began before this offseason.

“It definitely has been something that’s ramped up,” Blandino said. “I would say it started even earlier than six to 12 months. This has probably been two to three years in the making.”

The early indications are that the NFL’s strategy worked. The feedback from fans to the relaxed celebration rule has been positive.

103 responses to “Dean Blandino: Celebration changes are about reaching millennials

  1. It’s another example of how things have changed in this country and the world. The NFL feels it can’t “reach the millennials” with the game itself. They feel they have to give them this dancing with the stars type atmosphere to attract them to the game.
    It saddens me, but it’s the way it is. The last time I went to a Major League Baseball game, I thought I was at a hip-hop and hard rock concert. They blasted that stuff so loud between innings I had a headache by the time the game was over. It took a lot of the enjoyment away from the game, for me.
    Football is a wonderful sport played by gifted athletes. The things they can do are amazing. It’s what attracted me to the game as a kid in the early 60’s and when I played it in school, I realized even more just how special the players were.
    I don’t like these celebrations the players do today after they score a TD or make a first down (especially when their team is losing). They are contrived and they just look so silly, to me. I wish the focus would always be on the team, not the individual player. But the NFL has decided that it needed to give in to these egocentric players to please the electronic generation, so that’s the way it is. It’s another in the long line of reasons I don’t enjoy the NFL nearly as much as I used to.

  2. Ain’t gonna work…. they don’t care…NFL was once must-see tv for me…. now I can take it or leave it…Godell has ruined the game…..

  3. surprised they didn’t decide to start handing out trophies to them just for buying tickets to the game. then again, millennials feel entitled to free tickets so … i guess we should just give those away too
    worst generation yet.

  4. Maybe it’s because I’m old school but I’m not a big fan of the celebrations. It was fun when Billy “White Shoes” Johnson did it but then people started getting out of control. I want to watch football, not a bunch of fools dancing around acting like idiots after they make a play. Do they need attention so badly they have to act like buffoons. The sad part is the kids watch this so they do it. How does an adult tell children they need to behave when they watch these knuckleheads act like idiots? I remember a story Cris Collinsworth said after he scored a TD in his rookie year with the Bengals. He did some sort of celebration in the end zone and I forget if it was Paul Brown or Forest Gregg that told him “Son, act like you’ve been there before.” It’s OK to be excited. Michael Jordan got excited. It’s another thing to act like a buffoon.

  5. “Dean Blandino: Celebration changes are about reaching millennials and turning off everybody else.”

  6. Yeah team is down by twenty and somebody scores.

    Next thing a player is trying to wave his JUNK around.

    Nothing turns me off more than celebrations when

    team is losing.

  7. Yea, millennials are different, they hate Gooddell for being a phony, lying weasel.

  8. I’m a “millennial” who fell in love with football when I was 10 years old.

    TD celebrations didn’t have anything to do with it.

  9. They’re doing all they can to cut back the time of game, it’s reduced the most important aspect, plays! But now they have time to orchestrate a celebration that most hardcore NFL fans don’t want to see. They may try to please millennials, but they’re chasing away the people who enjoy football.

  10. My kid no longer tunes into individual games, he watches Red Zone….and I get it…..just action with no down time and no commercials. I stopped going to live games because of the excessive TV timeouts ticket holders had to endure while the NFL’s corporate partners sold beer, cars and soda to the TV viewers every few minutes. I felt like a sucker paying $100 for a ticket, $40 for parking, $11 for a beer, $7 for a hot dog….just for the opportunity to sit on my hands while the NFL grabs for more money.

  11. As a millennial I think this is stupid. Make a rule change because you think it’s the right thing to do, not to pander to an audience you obviously don’t understand.

  12. Still not going to work. It’ll make for fun twitter highlights but the millennial generation is too busy trying to survive. Prices are high, the jobs pay low, and most of them are in debt from school. That’s why many industries are dying and with more and more cutting cable, NFL won’t be able to keep the ratings or people in the stands, though it was smart of them to make streaming deals like with Twitter.

  13. I used to watch nearly all the televised games, but once the NFL made changes to attract women, such as adding a woman reporter to every sideline, a camera on the coach yo observe his emotions, or worst of all when a female reporter asks a coach how he “feels about the second half,” I tuned out nearly all games except those that affected my team. This will only make me less interested in other teams.

  14. 31 teams will take advantage of this and have a lot of fun in the end zone with well choreographed dance celebrations to make the fans laugh. The other team will win their second straight super bowl.

  15. I’ve been teaching at the college level since 1996.

    These days, any student who talks with me about football does so through the lens of fantasy.

    They don’t care about the actual game or end-zone celebrations.

  16. If your product is not good enough to attract viewers, catering to the miniscule percentage of potential viewers is not the answer. Especially viewers with little or no buying power. The NFL has left me and I have pretty much left the NFL.

  17. Lots of get off my lawn folks in the comment section. The restrictions on celebrations was beyond silly. Basketball and soccer players are allowed to express themselves but the NFL thought it had to stifle celebrations and try and follow Mobs no celebration model.

    If a player wants to dance or high step to the end zone like Deion Sanders I honestly don’t care. Some players are flamboyant like Deion Sanders and others are the hand the ball to the ref type like Barry Sanders. So what? If a celebration is disrespectful or causes a delay of game like TO running to mid field in Dallas after scoring a TD as an Eagle flag him.

  18. cebert44 says:
    Jun 18, 2017 6:41 AM
    Yeah team is down by twenty and somebody scores.

    Next thing a player is trying to wave his JUNK around.

    Nothing turns me off more than celebrations when

    team is losing.

    Cam Newton anyone? Ding ding ding.

  19. If the NFL wants to reach millennials, then they need to get rid of “losing teams.” Every team wins, every team goes to the playoffs, and every team wins the Superbowl. Furthermore, there will no longer be “sacks.” Quarterbacks now have “safe spaces” they can stay in where there is no pressure and no one can challenge them.

  20. All I ever see on this site are people complaining to let players “have fun”, “it’s just a game”, “No Fun League” etc, but now that there’s a chance to gripe about a younger generation, all that goes out the window even though you got what you wanted.

    Weird how that works, huh?

  21. Maybe the league should start giving out the annual Trent Dilfer participation trophy? You know, nobody should have to feel bad because their not as good as others in the league.

  22. Celebrations used to be unregulated and once they started regulating them, non-millennials threw a fit. People of all ages did the same last year when the rules became even more strict. This is not an age issue at all.

  23. As one of the last of the Baby Boomers, I hold only hope for the Millennials. Many are upset because the Millennials don’t work like we work or think like we think. I say it’s good that they don’t; because WE destroyed this country.

    The Greatest Generation left us with the strongest and most prosperous country this Earth has ever seen and in 70 short years WE brought it to its knees with OUR own greed and piggishness. WE let our friends’ and neighbors’ small businesses perish in order to save our precious 17 cents at Walmart. WE voted in “two tier wages” in our [few remaining] manufacturing plants. WE kept buying from companies that moved their jobs overseas. WE didn’t boycott companies that shafted their workers. WE let them kill the unions.

    The Greatest Generation did none of those things and never would have done them; but WE did them all. And now, WE want to blame the Millennials? Riiiight.

    Before any of you start regurgitating propaganda from your favorite radical right or loopy left websites, BOTH parties have contributed to the downfall and they’ve done so in nearly equal measure… and WE let them. HELPED them, even.

  24. Blandino has no clue. I would rather watch a celebration than having a flag thrown because of the celebration. I don’t care about celebrations one way or another. They don’t really delay the game so let the NFL fine someone if it is deemed a violation.

  25. You don’t have to exploit every opportunity to show the world you are getting old and grumpy.

  26. I find it highly ironic that the NFL Network routinely airs the Top 10 End zone celebrations and over half of them are illegal in today’s game.

    This doesn’t mean that I appreciate Antonio Brown and his hip thing, but the NFL is missing the Fun Bunch.

  27. Celebrations for a touchdown do not bother me as much as celebration for stopping a running-back after a four yards gain at mid-field in the first quarter when the score is 3-3…

  28. Millenials are generally worthless. They quit at the slightest and most mundane challenges, and think any type of annoyance is a human rights violation. We need to bring back the Draft.

  29. Very odd take on all of this. Celebrations were taken away because of the supposed millennial mindset. “Celebrations aren’t nice to the other team, it makes them feel sad.” That wasn’t created for the millenials it was done for Goodell’s mindset. They celebrated as long as I can remember and I’m in my 40’s. For years the NFL as been referred to by many as the No Fun League. The rules changes didn’t turn off millennials it turned off the majority of people. People talk about how classy Sanders was, I agree wholeheartedly but he stands out because in the 80’s and 90’s everyone else was celebrating too.

    Loosening up celebrations is better for the game, nothing to do with millennials.

  30. Thank goodness!

    I don’t watch the game for amazing plays (remember Aaron Rodgers against Arizona 2 years ago with those back to back hail marys to get a TD). Or Marshawn Lynch shedding the entire Saints defense on his way to the goal line years ago.

    Instead I watch for celebrations. I just love watching mediocre players making a wonderful celebration on getting a first down while losing big time in the 4th quarter.

    I need the NFL to “connect” to me.

    Oh wait … maybe I actually care about the game and want to see great games. I’m OK with a quick TD celebration, and thats not the kind the Panthers with Superman like to do.

  31. In other words, rather than showing viewers how to act in an appropriate, professional manner when playing sports, the NFL will act more like tweenies to attract a younger audience.

    What next – how about changing overtime to a dance off? With viewers voting? But more seriously, NFL is making efforts to shorten the game, so how does dancing shorten the games? Or is the game being shortened to specifically create more dance time?

  32. I couldn’t stand Blandino, I’m glad he’s gone. Hopefully he doesn’t last with Fox or whereever he went.

  33. I would like to see a clause added for us non-Millenials, to the effect of “Any player who engages in a choreographed celebration upon reaching a first down while his team is losing by three or more scores shall play the remainder of the game wearing Pampers and with a pacifier in his mouth.”

  34. The NFL just set a new all-time record for revenue. Despite the rhetoric about how Colin Kaepernick was hurting attendance and how they needed to relax celebration rules, obviously lots of people enjoy the game of football. I enjoy some spontaneous celebrations sometimes by great players who are being original. I don’t mind Antonio Brown doing something funny once in a while if he makes a huge play. I actually loved watching Deion do his thing because he was on his own planet (talent wise). I thought Zeke Elliott was awesome when he jumped in that barrel. But when guys practice and rehearse silly dance moves, that’s a turn off. Those are usually the same guys that make mental blunders that cost their teammates games.

  35. That’s not going to happen unless they develop some sort of wireless taser technology to zap people if they reach for their cell phone while a game is airing.

  36. Hockey does it right. Group hug and pats on the head, then skate by the bench and touch gloves with every player as the line skates by.

  37. Meh. I’ve always been ok with Chad Johnson type celebrations (riverdance, proposing to cheerleader, putting, etc). It’s the Antonio Brown type celebrations that need to go (humping the goal post, simulating sex acts, etc). Sad that the NFL has to try to spice things up to pull in millennial viewers. The game should be enough to distract them from their smart phones for a couple hours. That said, the game has had so many rule changes over the last 5-10 years that it’s barely recognizable now…thanks to Goodell.

  38. Hey, guess what … Aaron Rodgers celebrated after
    throwing those long Hail Mary Passes —

    — as he rightly should.

    There is a happy medium — with the loosening
    of the rules, they are closer to getting it right.

    No one wants to see long, orchestrated celebrations,
    twerking, or guys pretending to machine gun people down, but
    it’s ridiculous to ask players to hand the ball over like Barry Sanders.
    Sanders was one of the best RBs ever, but played on crappy teams
    who were often being ouplayed and outscored, it would have been
    deemed very gauche even if he had celebrated.

    For every Barry Sanders, there is a ‘Neon’ Dieion Sanders.
    How many of you old codgers got outraged and wrote letters
    to the commish when Billy ‘White Shoes ‘ Johnson began with
    those rather tame celebrations?
    I know I was watching and enjoying it, and he played for a rival team.

    Some of you old curmudgeons whine and complain as much as
    these millenials do.

  39. I’m for it. the game is threatened by obvious health concerns and not reaching the young generations. The league has to adapt to stay alive just like the rest of us. some of you sound like your grandfathers. The ability to express yourself and individualize will help recruit talent to the game.

  40. The millenials on the field will be the only ones keeping track of celebration performance. The fans in the stands are too busy high fiving each other when their team scores.

  41. bigoldred says:
    Jun 18, 2017 6:43 AM
    Yea, millennials are different, they hate Gooddell for being a phony, lying weasel.

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    Report comment


    most millennials don’t think like you and have
    spent countless hours on the interwebs whining
    about highly successful players on the pats, practically
    begging for framejobs to be enacted to make
    themselves feel better.

    note how blandino all but tells us that millennials
    and that demographic are on their minds for
    money purposes

    the pats were cheated twice with concocted
    framejobs and sold to the public as veiled
    lies through espn

    these are facts, with deflategate proven
    in court as such

  42. Once you start pandering to the fragile ego, over politically correct, entitled don’t want to work hard millennials its definitely the beginning of the end.

  43. You’re going to have to figure out how to link their selfie cam and green screen them into the endzone.

  44. Goodell, Blandino, the owners et al need to be locked in a room with their eyelids glued open, and forced to watch a 48 hour loop of “IDIOCRACY.”

    This is getting ridiculous!

  45. Millenials…. The ones that can’t afford a ticket (who can, really?)…. those that won’t buy cable… those that find a pirate streaming service to watch for free… this is the market the NFL wants to grow??

  46. I hate to break it to you guys, but we created the Millennial. They came of age during the digital disruption created when the Software Revolution diminished the value of traditional degrees, exacerbated the rocky relationship between education and industry, amplified the student loan crisis, and turned us all into interchangeable machine operators. I didn’t even mention how they grew up thinking cyber-stalking, privacy incursion, and Google defamation were normal. Then there was 9/11, two trillion dollar terror wars, the Great Tecession in which the American financial industry destroyed the world economy, two dovisive Presidential elections, and an unprecedented five year budget impasse on Capitol Hill introducing into the popular lexicon such wonderful lingo as continuing resolution, debt ceiling, fiscal cliff, government shutdown (threat), government shutdown (actual), and sequestration. And then there’s something called the gig economy. So, with that in mind, are these kids screwed up? Or are they the wisdom in an insane world corrupted by their parents?

  47. As far as touchdown celebration goes, it really only comes down to one simple question: Isn’t it the players’ and the teams’ job to score points?

    If that answer is “yes,” the celebrations should go away. Or if celebrations remain, the players (when they fail to score points) should receive punishment on a par with the celebrations.

    These guys get paid multi-millions of dollars (many of them get paid MORE THAN ONE MILLION DOLLARS PER TOUCHDOWN) to catch passes or run the football. That’s a miserable “accomplishment-to-attempt” ratio

  48. Next up……all the standing around time for tv timeouts. #1 thing I hear from in stadium fans, they can’t believe all the stoppages and standing around time when not in front of tv to avoid commercials.

  49. Football IS entertainment and regardless of the downside of what is inevitably going to happen through the season because of this, people are going to be entertained. Whether they might get annoyed or laugh out loud, they are going to be entertained.

    Lighten up folks; there are going to be some fully unintended and unexpected moments of irony to be had. I can see some of the imagined consequences lining up already for their moment in the sun or snow).

  50. Billy White Shoes Johnson, the Bears Super Bowl Shuffle, the Ickey Shuffle, Neon Deon Sanders and much more have nothing to do with millennials.
    And by the way, who raised them anyway?

  51. “The generation that ruined the housing market and the climate is really mad that millenials like touchdown celebrations.”

    You’re confusing normal people with banks and corporations.

  52. trubroncfan07 says:
    Jun 18, 2017 1:30 PM
    The ratings are down because they took all the physicality out of the game. The NFL is soft now and boring.

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    ratings are down for many reasons, two of which
    involve greedy lazy owners:

    1. cheating the pats with goodell
    2. lazy cap management, forced to pay mediocre
    qbs 18 mil per

  53. I eat this stuff up.

    Old guys: “screw you nfl you ruined it and I’m done and never coming back”

    All this while taking up their own personal time, to comment on an article, about a game they say they’re done with.

    I think we know who the Real snowflakes are, here.

    Looking at you, baby boomers.


  55. I wish they would reset the rules to what they were in the early 90s and tell every player if they want to play in the NFL it will probably have long term health effects and if you don’t like it don’t play. I think that would bring back the fans. Along with Roger G getting fired. And just my Opinion Most (NOT ALL) of millennials are soft and don’t like football and it can all be traced back to poor parenting. Men are no longer tough. They dress in skinny jeans and Male rompers. They never got spanked they got timeouts, they have safe spaces because their delicate minds cant handle the truth or an intelligent conversation about a disagreement. Again not all millennials are like this but a majority are. They also feel like they deserve things they haven’t earned in life which is sad.

  56. To me this ranks right up there with the NFL thinking they’re going to attract enough of a fan base in England to start another league division. News flash: to the English the NFL is a NOVELTY nothing more. End zone celebrations are what they are: nothing much. Besides that for me the season is basically over when the Chiefs have played their last game. My wife and I watch the Stupid Bowl for the ads but even that was kinda sad this year. I DO get a lot of reading done between plays though.

  57. This will make scoring a touchdown into “Can You Top This”. I can’t wait till a player does something outrageously profane while the officials (grandpa) has no idea what just happened.

  58. You know what some of you sound like being grumpy old men? Millennials! Man up! I am nearly 50, been watching the game since I was 5. Tons of things have changed, do I wish it was more like the real man’s game in the 70s? Of course, for many reasons. Does you all know how boring and pathetic it is to bitch about this stuff in the bigger picture? Maybe that is all this forum is good for, to allow this whining, but it’s sad man. It’s sad. The game is still exciting to watch. One of the great things about the game of pro football is how it keep evolving. Otherwise, it would be the same, you know, boring–like some of you.

  59. The NFL is the first made for TV’s a dumb, brutal sport and frankly outside of qbs the game is largely devoid of any true skill..maybe kicking the ball is a skill, I dunno..but blocking, tackling, and catching a ball isn’t skill..

  60. brawlkc says:
    Jun 18, 2017 2:35 PM
    I eat this stuff up.

    Old guys: “screw you nfl you ruined it and I’m done and never coming back”

    All this while taking up their own personal time, to comment on an article, about a game they say they’re done with.

    I think we know who the Real snowflakes are, here.

    Looking at you, baby boomers.


    Here’s a better quote for you:

    “Youth is wasted on the young”.

    Translation — young people think they know it all and that older people don’t know anything. It’s the ignorance of not having the experience to know better.

    And here’s another quote I’ll give you:

    “The older I get, the smarter my parents get”.

    That one is so true — and if you’re fortunate enough to become one of those “old guys”, you’ll find out how true it is.

    Meanwhile, go clean your room, wash up, and get outside or you’ll miss the school bus.

  61. With all the entertainment options available these days, I can’t believe many young people are going to sit and watch 3 hour games.

  62. yourunclerico says:
    Jun 18, 2017 6:34 AM
    surprised they didn’t decide to start handing out trophies to them just for buying tickets to the game. then again, millennials feel entitled to free tickets so … i guess we should just give those away too
    worst generation yet.
    Says the generation that handed out the participation trophies. SMH!!!!

  63. I guess the object is to put something on the field that is more interesting than checking one’s fantasy football scores. I think this misses the mark though.

  64. I haven’t done a scientific study, but it sure seems like the guys that celebrated a lot are the same guys that end up broke after a couple years out of the league. I’m sure there is a connection. It’s called dumb.

  65. why stop here?

    why not give the cheerleaders the ball and let them drive 80 yards three or four times over three hours, and let the current players choreograph celebrations on the sidelines that Millenials can call in and vote on?

    they can call it ‘NFL’s Got Talent’ and give out the championship trophies per each of 30 positions (including not dressed for game, taxi squad, PUP, kicking and special teams) after 16 rounds–they can call it the Bieber or Beyoncé, in the shape of a pair of crystal dancing shoes made by Tiffany’s;

    any ties or interpretations of rules can be left to the referees, who will also serve as the panel evaluating each performance for advancement to the next show;

    the cheerleaders?

    ah, who cares for them?

    they can be seen at their best on NFL Red Zone!

    give them all participation trophies at the end of the season;

    Millenials will be dancing for joy!

  66. Every week, we read comments posted on this site (and others) that ‘the NFL is dying’ or has ‘jumped the shark’ and will see a loss of revenue and interest from the fans.

    Here, the NFL flat out says “We’re studying what the interests of the fans are and what new fans want” to draw more of them to the game.

    …and it’s still complained about. You can’t have both unfortunately.

    Many of the first comments on this article reflect that all too well unfortunately “this was better in the 60’s” and “this no longer appeals to me!” …it’s not supposed to.

    You’re no longer the target demographic and aren’t needed as a fanbase. It’s a harsh thing to hear, but it’s true.

    It was just as much about the money in the 1920’s as it is now in the ‘teens, there’s just a lot more of it and a much larger audience and a much larger exposure to the game.

    If Curly Lambeau and George Halas thought techno music and laser light shows with robots doing the limbo at half-time with T-shirt cannons for arms would have filled seats and kept the league alive, they’d have invented them and pushed them to fans at the time it was first expanding, don’t doubt it.

  67. Millennials sh-millennials. All that should matter to any self-respecting Football Sunday junkie are your own celebrations at the ticket window when you’re cashing your winning tickets. The rest of you, millennials or otherwise, are pitiful.

    You seriously stay up nights worrying about an end zone celebration. My God!

  68. The Millenials don’t like anything that is real.

    They now prefer digital sex to the real thing.

    Does the NFL really think Millenials give a flying monkey about celebrations?

    Millenials only want to watch 10 seconds of the game because they are so worthless on attention span that they can’t watch anything longer.

    The only solution to Millenials is a war that kills the weak and lazy and saves the ones who share the real world’s values.

  69. laserw says:
    Jun 18, 2017 10:28 PM
    The Millenials don’t like anything that is real.

    They now prefer digital sex to the real thing.

    Does the NFL really think Millenials give a flying monkey about celebrations?

    Millenials only want to watch 10 seconds of the game because they are so worthless on attention span that they can’t watch anything longer.

    The only solution to Millenials is a war that kills the weak and lazy and saves the ones who share the real world’s values.

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    pretty much

    they also see nothing wrong with cgi in movies, have
    awful taste in music and don’t read books

    sad, really

  70. I’m a grown man and there’s nothing better than watching athletes dance and cook up elaborate pantomime celebrations … said no one ever.

  71. Some of you are such, downers!!! Football, Basketball, Baseball, sports in general, is nothing but entertainment. This stuff is not life-death, rocket-science. So what if somebody wants to show some emotion after making a play. Sheesh!!!

    If you won the lottery or something you would consider a great or achieving happened to you, are you just going to sit there stone-faced and act like “aww who cares.” move on…

    People are such judgmental, miserable, hypocrites…

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