Leave it to the NFL to try and fix something that wasn’t broken. This week the NFL competition committee is convening to discuss several potential rule changes for the upcoming season. Some of these rule changes may be necessary, like expanding video review to help prevent situations like the missed pass interference call in the NFC Championship game. Some of these potential changes are absolutely 100 percent unnecessary.
One that falls into this latter category is the NFL’s continued obsession with making the game less fun for its players. According to The Washington Post, the NFL is considering a rule change that would make it illegal for players from the sideline to join in on a celebration.
This proposal is likely in response to the growing popularity of the “photo shoot” celebration, in which—typically after a forced turnover—the entire defense finds the nearest endzone photographer and/or cameraman and does a team pose for them. Oftentimes, players from the sideline join in on the celebration, hoping to make an appearance in a group photo they can post on their social media accounts.
The origin of the celebration is disputed, but the 2017 New Orleans Saints certainly popularized it, and it has now become commonplace for just about every team to do it. Of course, along the way, the NFL itself didn’t seem to have much of a problem promoting those celebrations as an example of how fun the league is:
The @Giants SQUAD!— NFL (@NFL) November 18, 2018
: FOX #GiantsPride pic.twitter.com/V521DPur3B
Wait for it... @Steelers defense wanted the squad pic. #HereWeGo #PITvsTB pic.twitter.com/yppBgGl7aw— NFL (@NFL) September 25, 2018
The pic after the pick (six).#HOUvsWAS pic.twitter.com/LDFv7tvz6x— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) November 18, 2018
That isn’t to say there isn’t some merit to this rule. Obviously, letting players on the field just to celebrate will slow down the game a bit. Additionally, it could open the doors for players not involved in the play to come on the field during other situations. We all remember Dez Bryant coming off the sidelines to yell at the officials during the Lions’ 2015 Wild Card game —an act that was illegal by the book, but went uncalled. Should the NFL keep allowing players to come on for celebrations, that could lead to players being more comfortable leaving the bench for other reasons.
But that kind of slippery slope argument is only a theory at this point. The on-field product has not changed a bit since these celebrations became more popular. Even if these celebrations slow the game, a turnover only happens about two or three times a game. That’s hardly enough to be worth legislating over.
Though implementing this rule wouldn’t ban the photo celebration—obviously teams would still be able to pose with the 11 players on the field—it would still rob the players of an opportunity to just have some fun out there. The NFL secondary is a tight-knit group, and for some—especially the defensive backs that are mostly special teamers—the group photo is a rare opportunity to be in the spotlight with some of the players they are closest with.
Or as Lions safety Quandre Diggs puts it...
Man let us enjoy the game! Nobody is getting hurt doing those celebrations! https://t.co/2yjFK5uGOF— Nino (@qdiggs6) February 25, 2019
Of course, just because the league is discussing it doesn’t mean the change will be implemented. This is simply the time for such discussion to be had. But considering all the of moves the league has already made to drop all of the unnecessary rules regarding celebrations, finally starting to shed the “No Fun League” moniker, if the NFL decides to move on this proposal, it would be a huge step back in restoring fun in the game.