View Full Version : No Fun League Strikes Again

03-28-2006, 01:32 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Bad news might be on the horizon for Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson and the other purveyors of outrageous touchdown celebrations.

The NFL's competition committee is proposing a crackdown on rocking the baby, teeing off like Tiger and anything else that might be considered taunting.

This isn't particularly new. The league has smacked down celebrators who went over the top before. Remember T.O.'s dancing on the Dallas star in Texas Stadium? Or Johnson revealing a small sign asking not to be fined by commissioner Paul Tagliabue?

Or, of course, Joe Horn's hidden cell phone trick in New Orleans?

But committee chairmen Jeff Fisher, coach of the Tennessee Titans, and Rich McKay, general manger of the Atlanta Falcons, believe enforcement hasn't been strict enough recently.

"Individual celebration was getting out of hand," Fisher said Monday at the NFL meetings. "The players' association was unanimous in wanting to get this under control."

So spiking the ball in the end zone will be OK. And spinning it on the ground, or dunking it over the goalpost. Dancing in the end zone is fine, too, as long as it's not prolonged or a group effort.

Almost all other celebrations will be out if the committee's recommendation to clamp down further on the frivolities is passed by the owners.

The new emphasis on unsportsmanlike conduct penalties will call for a 15-yard mark-off on the ensuing kickoff against the offending team, and possible fines.

Players can't use props for any celebrations, and they can't be on the ground when they do their thing. Asked what happens if a player is tackled in the end zone and begins celebrating while down, Fisher said it would be a penalty.

"Get up and dance," he said, prompting laughter at a news conference.

"If they go to the ground to score and feel compelled to do something, get up!" McKay added.

"We've allowed those things to creep back. They are not necessary and should not be allowed."

The committee also will suggest:

Down by contact calls be subject to instant replay review, a proposal that was voted down last year. Currently, a play is dead once the whistle blows and the ballcarrier is ruled down by the officials. McKay said that last season there were 18 to 20 plays when the ball came out of a player's grasp before he was ruled down.

The proposed change would allow any turnover to stand if replay showed the ball came loose before the whistle. No subsequent runbacks with the ball would count, however.

Modifying illegal procedure to allow receivers to flinch if they get back into position before the play and the defense doesn't react to the move.

Toughening enforcement on pass rushers who hit quarterbacks below the knees, as long as the defensive players could have avoided making the hit. One play that didn't prompt such a point of emphasis, McKay said, was in last year's playoffs on Cincinnati's Carson Palmer by Kimo von Oelhoffen, then with Pittsburgh, that severely injured Palmer's knee. McKay said it was clear von Oelhoffen didn't make any intentional move to hit Palmer, but simply rolled into the quarterback.

Just like quarterbacks, one defensive player might be allowed direct communication with the coaches next season. The committee will recommend that a defense has the same option as an offense in that area. As of now, quarterbacks get instructions through a small speaker in the helmet until there are 15 seconds remaining on the play clock.

"We hope to get away from offenses -- I don't want to say stealing, so borrowing -- signals from the sideline [for defenses]," McKay said.

Bengals' Johnson reacts
Chad Johnson has a message for the NFL's competition committee if it votes to curtail over-the-top touchdown celebrations: He can't be stopped.

"Of course you cannot stop someone as creative as me. How can this bother someone as creative as me?" Johnson told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Johnson is the king of outrageous touchdown celebrations, including once using the end zone pylon as a prop and putting the football after a touchdown.

"Tell the competition committee that Chad said you can't cover 85, and there's no way you can stop him from entertaining," Johnson told the Enquirer.

ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton addressed this topic in his latest Quick Hits. To read more about it, click here Insider.