Since 2017, the NFL has embraced player celebrations, ending decades of No Fun League attitude and turning it into a marketing ploy. But there’s still a glitch or two that the league needs to iron out.
The biggest comes in the shape of a large red kettle that the Cowboys put in their end zone every Thanksgiving, leaving it there through the end of the regular season to promote the efforts of the Salvation Army to raise money for the less fortunate. Though the kettle is clearly part of the field, the NFL has fined Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for depositing $21 into the kettle following a touchdown, and for later depositing quarterback Dak Prescott into it. (Prescott got a warning letter for his involvement in the stunt.)
Contrast that with 2016, when Elliott jumped into the kettle but didn’t receive a fine — even though the league had yet to change the rules to promote celebrations.
Technically, yes, the use of the kettle as a prop violates the language of the rulebook, since only the ball can be used as a prop when celebrating. So why not change the rule?
More importantly, what’s the reason for not changing the rule? There’s nothing about putting cash or teammates in the kettle that creates animosity between teams or otherwise sends a message that the league shouldn’t want to send. Instead, it promotes giving to the cause the Cowboys embraced years ago, with the kettle now in its 21st year of on-field use.
Hell, why not put a kettle in every end zone at every stadium, space permitting? If the NFL wants a free and easy way to be a responsible corporate citizen, the active incorporation of the Salvation Army kettle into touchdown celebrations at every NFL venue would do the trick.
At a minimum, let players who play in Dallas have some fun with the kettle, including the players from the visiting team. Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore produced $23 from his pants last Thursday and dropped it into the kettle. Hopefully, he won’t be fined for it.