The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Readers overwhelmingly respond: Yes, end zone celebrations should be penalized

Vernon Davis celebrates a touchdown. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)
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When I ranted about the NFL’s crackdown on celebrations earlier this week, I assumed that virtually every football fan would agree with me.

My impetus, of course, was the 15-yard call against Vernon Davis for shooting a celebratory basket with the football over the goal post. I figured no Redskins fans would be mad at Davis for being happy, and no Eagles fan could be offended by Davis pretending to play basketball, and no unaligned fan could possibly care enough to be angry about this.

Which led me to conclude that there must be virtually no constituency demanding the NFL penalize celebrations, other than the sort of folks who call parking enforcement if they spot an expired meter.

But I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong. I was, apparently, wrong about this one. My e-mails since Monday have been overwhelmingly opposed to on-field celebrations, with many readers supporting the NFL’s policy, and criticizing players for their me-first attitudes. As a rebuttal, I figured I should include some in this space.

“Let’s keep things in perspective,” by John W.

You’re dead wrong if you think fans want to see the excessive, egotistical celebrating that goes on when a team makes a touchdown. There’s no one I know who likes the suggestive, in-your-face dances of Cam Newton and company, or the acrobatics, rituals and gyrations that others engage in. It’s a matter of class: If you have it, you have it, and you don’t have to go to any lengths to show that you do.

Big deal, a guy caught a pass, or ran one in. How may lives did he save? How many did he improve (bettors and fantasy players aside)?  Let’s stop acting like this is any sort of great accomplishment. This is what these guys are paid to do. It’s like a guy who makes widgets saying “Who da man!” to every widget the rolls off his assembly line. It’d get old quick.

The danger comes in your laissez-faire approach. Where is the line between self-celebration and taunting of the opposing team? Between a “Yes!” and “In your face!” Better to ban it all, because it adds absolutely nothing to the game.

Our country is already too lost in sports, to the detriment of civic society. Let’s keep things in perspective and not encourage the already unrestrained egos of those who play games to be completely unleashed.

“Man up,” by Scott S.

Man-up. The players should be growing up to be men, not little teenagers who need attention. Team sports have rules and standards. The ‘Hey, look at me stuff’ is from self-centered players who are forgotten. [Terrell] Owens is an extreme. Randy Moss had to be taught the hard way before he was labeled as a fool. Hall of Fame players are far more dignified. [Peyton] Manning, [Brett] Favre, Emmitt Smith, Art Monk, etc. There are exceptions to the rule, but thank God for the rule. Dancing fools don’t make the game proud.

“It takes something away from the game,” by Larry S.

I must disagree with your assessment of penalizing players for excessive celebration, because they’re not — celebrating, that is. They put on choreographed exhibitions. It’s one thing to spike a ball, jump up in the air with a raised fist, or even into the arms of your congratulatory teammates. But when the joy is removed to display an act that’s obviously been practiced, then it’s merely a spectacle for drawing attention to one’s self. That’s what the catch, run, touchdown, field goal or interception are for.

I can’t watch a game without someone getting a first down and then see them  jump up, demonstratively point downfield like an umpire and stomp around for 5-to-10 seconds. What’s worse is when they execute this dance move while down by 20-to-30 points. The behavior is boorish and all too common in today’s game.

I don’t believe the game is joyless, but do think when players are more intent on making a spectacle than playing the sport they’re paid outlandish amounts of money [to play], it takes something away from the game, the players, and the fans. Secretly placing pens in the uprights or carrying on like Billy “White Shoes” Johnson are not what football is about. Maybe the younger fan, the one who can’t go 10 seconds without looking at some electronic device, needs this to hold their interest. But if a fan truly enjoys the sport for what it is, to see a grinning player upon scoring, sacking, or some other moment of glory on the gridiron, that is cause for revelry.

The NFL is cracking down hard on illegal celebrations. Players and fans ask, why?

“Do it as a team,” by Lorraine C.

Please tell all football team members that football is a team sport; act like that is what it is.

Want to celebrate (a goal, a forward movement success)? Great. Do it as a team. All the players accomplished their goal together: camaraderie.

All those players together made those added points happen. And it was done together. Not just the one who jumped up and down (or whatever) and for his singular expression got his whole team kicked in the … scoreboard.

What inspiration is created for that team to win the game when one team member takes away for only himself the glory of the success created by the efforts of the team together. Every single one of those players on the field worked together as a team to accomplish a win.

Wanna celebrate? Good. Let me see the team members celebrate as a team. Together.

“This is a grown man acting like a 12-year old,” by Paul S.

I read your article about celebrating and think that you completely missed the mark. First and foremost, football is a team sport.  Vernon Davis did his job (and that what he gets paid for)  no better than the other 10 players.  To take credit for someone else’s achievement is just wrong. And also try to work into your article that this is a grown man acting like a 12-year old.

How about the players that like to celebrate a sack. What would you write if the whole offensive line did the same thing on every passing play that the quarterback doesn’t get sacked on?  The whole celebration thing is overboard and beyond watching.  Is it possible to let your accomplishments shine on their own?

There isn’t room for individuals on a team sport.

“It is their job,” by Steve S.

I have been a fan of the Washington Redskins for 66 years so I was greatly pleased by the Vernon Davis touchdown.

I take issue with your column. I think that players should be fined by the team (Redskins) for acts of personal selfishness that cause them and the Redskins Team to get 15-yard penalties for celebrating, taunting, fighting, etc.

They are paid to do what they are celebrating about. It is their job. The same goes for defensive players, who find it necessary to flex or dance after they get a sack or tackle behind the line of scrimmage. They, too, are paid for doing that — that is their reward.  I am tired of all the showboating.

Why can’t we just go back to the college football way, where the player hands the ball to the official and goes to the bench?

How should they celebrate?  They should celebrate in the locker room or with their friends after the game.  We as fans celebrate them when they do something great by cheering, buying jerseys and other Redskin apparel.

“Stupid and uninteresting,” by Michael M.

I have been a lifelong sports fan, and also someone who has read about the games since my father gave me a book about baseball greats when I was seven. Baseball, basketball and football are team games — playing, winning and losing as a team — and great plays are not just the product of one guy ending up in the end zone on his efforts alone. The idea that a player needs to celebrate himself — and that is what he is doing — is just stupid and uninteresting.

Want to have fun? Go back to the bench and celebrate with your ‘mates — smile, high-five, thank the players who made it possible and accept the praise of your coaches and ultimately the fans who pay to watch you. Shoot a jump shot? Bow and arrow? Twerk? What do they have to do with anything but celebrating me — they have nothing to do with the game, the play that enabled you and nothing to do, ultimately, with anything.

Recall as I can when [John] Riggins (and Sanders) tossed the ball to the ref. That made them cool and admirable. They were playing the game and letting the performance speak for itself. Twerking — some of your colleagues have taken the position that  this falls into that breadbasket of “the NFL doesn’t want us to have fun” — this is one more example of where personal conduct, words, and actions continue the quickened descent to the bottom. And you guys, instead of speaking against it, ignore ridiculously stupid, crude and unacceptable behavior as “just trying to have fun?” REALLY?

Dan, find another issue like why viewership is going down, violence going up. Work a little harder to find some insight on the team, something other than this insipid aspect of the game that is only slightly dumber than “walk up music.”

‘There are consequences,” by Tom R.

First, I totally agree with you that the rule is ridiculous.  Shooting a basketball is no different than spiking the ball.

However, to your point, these are “grown men.” I am a retired Federal Special Agent. I did not agree with all the rules and regulations in my agency. But let me assure you, if I violated any of said guidelines, there were consequences (some severe) if the rules were violated.

Vernon Davis (a grown man) should know the rules. He intentionally violated the rules. He cost the team seven points. He should be fined. There are consequences for violating the rules.

Having said that, I think the rule should be changed.

“Why are they behaving like third graders,” by Tom M.

Wouldn’t it be great if, as coaches I’ve had and known used to say, “Act like you’ve been there before”?

I know, the league is stupid and I agree they should stop penalizing folks for celebrations. But if I were a coach, or a player’s mentor, I’d say, “how cool would it be if you got up after a great act or after a score, and tossed the ball nonchalantly to the ref?”

And if they’re “grown men,” why are they behaving like third graders?

I know. Forget it. Got to have something to put on the Jumbotron, since, like, the game live on the field simply isn’t enough these days.