Crackdown on Celebration Rule Could Mark the end of Alfred Morris’s Homerun Swing

Redskins Activate Barry Cofield, Waive Jackson Jeffcoat

The NFL has long been criticized for being a bit ridiculous in recent years with their choice to stiffen penalty’s that directly affect touchdown celebrations.

This year the league did away with one rule that should have never been in place, the tuck rule, they also instituted a new rule that prohibits the runningback from dropping his head to hit a defender in the open field. According to reports, they are going to be cracking down on specific celebrations as well.

This is not a new rule being implemented this season, as the NFL’s 2012 official playing rules do state that players “will be penalized if any of the acts are committed directly at an opponent.” The excessive celebration ruling would result in a 15-yard penalty under Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 of the rulebook.

The celebration rule reads, “These acts include but are not limited to: sack dances; home run swing; incredible hulk; spiking the ball; throwing or shoving the ball; pointing; pointing the ball; verbal taunting; military salute; standing over an opponent (prolonged and with provocation); or dancing.”

Notice I put the words ‘home run swing‘ in bold letters, not sure exactly what the league sees wrong with Alfred’s home run swing, but they seem to also not like the Mile High Salute (in which RG3 has his own version of that gives praise to military veterans) or any sack dance…however I notice that the ‘Lambeau Leap’ is not listed in there, which is interesting.

So, while the rule isn’t new this year, officials will be focusing more on those rather common celebrations this season than in years past. That means Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith will have to be more careful about his celebratory ball spin (Santana Moss has a similar celebration often seen after first downs), and it could mark an end to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski‘s patented “Gronk spike” as well as Morris’s “Swing for the Fences” touchdown celebration.

Only time will tell just how tough the NFL intends to be with the crackdown, but it’s plain to see that they don’t want these things involved in the game any longer. As a life-long fan of the game, I think banning harm-less celebrations is a waste of time that will hurt the flow of the game and probably decide the outcome of more than one contest next year depending on just how strict the rule’s are implemented.

Other rule changes going into affect this year include:

• If a coach illegally throws his challenge flag (on a scoring play or turnover), the team is either charged a timeout or if none is available, a 15-yard penalty. Previously, the play was ruled un-reviewable and the play stood as called before any challenge.

• All players, except for kickers and punters, will be required to wear thigh and knee pads. A five-yard penalty is issued the first time for an infraction, with a possible ejection for any repeat offenders. The NFL used a shot of Peterson sporting his pads in their instructional video.

• The NFL is going to place an emphasis on running backs grabbing a defender’s face mask. A 15-yard penalty will be assessed if a running back tweaks his hand in any fashion that alters the defender’s head.

• Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties will be further emphasized this season, including any player who throws, spikes or spins the ball after the whistle is blown as well as any player who instigates a fight on the field. Previously, officials typically threw flags for the guy who retaliated in fighting situations. Officials now said those plays will be reviewed and penalties issued accordingly. The NFL used a clip of cornerback A.J. Jefferson throwing the ball after a play as an example.

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