As the days of June begin to melt away in the recent triple-digit heat, I can’t help but have my mind start to daydream about the upcoming fun of the fall season – which of course means football.
I’m looking forward to all levels of football in 2017, but the one that I’m celebrating the most, without getting any yellow hankies tossed my direction, is the return of some fun-filled end zone antics from players in the National Football League.
Late last month, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell loosened up his necktie a bit and sent out a letter stating the league would allow players “more room to have fun after they make a big play.”
Well, hallelujah and toss me into the Salvation Army kettle next to Ezekiel Elliot.
There is finally going to be some fun back into the pro game after scoring a touchdown without being pelted by yellow from the zebra backs. Let’s face it, the pro game has gotten a little stale with all the added rules and regulations from the front office – which we all know is the puppet on the other end of the strings from the owners.
I’ve been to two Super Bowls and countless number of Dallas Cowboys games in my life. From a young boy idolizing Roger Staubach to a professional journalist covering the Three Amigos. That’s Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith to all you haters of “America’s Team.”
While Staubach was more of a “Cool-Hand Luke” when it came to scoring touchdowns, I can recall a few animated responses after some of his countless fourth-period comebacks.
The Three Amigos were on the other hand the look of the new-age Cowboys. Smith had the trademark “No.1” finger in the air as he crossed into the end zone after long breakaway runs.
I watched from the Pasadena sidelines in Super Bowl XXVII when Troy Aikman gave the triumphant fist punch in the air after hitting Irvin for a slash and dash touchdown to go up 21-10 on the Buffalo Bills. In the end zone, Irvin turned to the crowd with hands raised and pointed the ball at them.
In recent years that would more than likely have drawn a 15-yard hanky, but under the new guidelines for the 2017 season (and hopefully beyond), it will be allowed.
According to Goodell’s letter, the following will be allowed.
U Using the football as a prop after a touchdown.
U Celebrating on the ground.
U Group demonstrations.
Now it remains to be seen if the Chicago Bears “Super Bowl Shuffle” will be rekindled by another real championship threat since we all know the Bears have been in hibernation for years. Or if that type of celebration will even be allowed.
However, we can expect to see even more of Superman shirt pulls, galloping horse demonstrations and shimmy shakes. Heck, even Elliot’s “feed me” antics will be allowed by the NFL, that is if he can get it past the eyes of head coach Jason Garrett.
We do know, though, that the end zone celebrations this year will not be a free-for-all. Demonstrations deemed “offensive” by the zebras will still draw a penalty as well as any that are prolonged or delay the game.
The NFL will not allow celebrations that taunt the opposition as it strides to protect its “shield” and be a leader for good sportsmanship to young athletes.
So that means no three-pump twerking will under any circumstances be allowed. Not one, not two or even three pumps.
OK, for those who have never seen it and think I’ve lost my mind, Google comedians Key and Peele’s video on the three-pump twerking (McCringleberry’s Excessive Celebration) during a fictitious football game between the Cougars and the Rhinos.
Fair warning, it’s a bit raunchy in parts (roughly 2:30 mark) but otherwise gut-busting funny about the debate between players and referees over end zone celebrations.
For right now it looks like end zone celebrations, at least the more creative ones, will be kept to the NFL games.
According to Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) media relations director Van Shea Iven, there will be no state rule allowing celebrations like in the NFL on the high school level.
Iven says the OSSAA expects officials to follow the National Federation of State High School Association rules under Section 5 of the football handbook titled “Non-Contact Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Player.”
In a nutshell, it basically says leave the ball on the ground or hand it to an official.
While he would personally like to see a little more end zone celebrations among teammates allowed by the state, El Reno head coach Chuck Atchison agrees with the rules.
“Yes, I wish there was more fun allowed, but there is a fine line there and we have a hard enough time with officials in high school. You have to be careful with that (celebrations) because one official may let a lot go and another one that won’t allow it at all.
“I don’t ever agree with taunting the other team, but having fun with teammates, I have no problem with. It’s just something in high school that would be too hard to manage,” said Atchison.
As far as the pros, Atchison likes the relaxed rule.
“I think you need to have more fun. Again, I don’t like taunting or rubbing it in another team’s face, but you should be allowed to celebrate a big play with teammates,” said Atchison.
So for now it’s wait until Thursday, Saturday or whenever the NFL plays to see some creative end zone antics. So go buy some new Sharpies, Brandon Marshall and Sammy Watkins, because I need more touchdowns from the two of you this year in Fantasy Football.