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NFL Likely Cracking Down on Celebratory Spinning (UPDATE)

Two training camp reports have mentioned referees talking about spinning, and not the bicycle-related type.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it wouldn't be a modern NFL season if the league weren't looking for ways to strip the emotion and enjoyment of the sport out of it. So consider this part of the preseason ritual.

Both this report from Pat Yasinskas who covers the NFC South for ESPN and this one from the Vikings reporter for Minneapolis/St. Paul's ESPN radio affiliate mention the referees have indicated that spinning the ball will draw more frequent unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

I get the intent. The celebrations that turn into pushing and shoving -- I understand why the league wants to avoid those when possible. But the reality is, the rulebook prohibits a host of celebrations, as noted by PFT:

The 2012 official playing rules listed examples of prohibited acts that will result in unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, saying, "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."

So the rulebook actually penalizes pretty much any celebration (including incredible hulk...), which is stupid and completely counter to the argument presented in early 2006 by one of the NFL competition committee chairmen...Jeff Fisher who indicated that dancing was an acceptable/ outlet for emotional displays:

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.


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.

Is this really going to have much of an impact on the entertainment of the game? Probably not. people like football for football.

But I do feel bad that kids in a couple years might not get to enjoy the goofiness of the NFL that I did when I was 8 or 9 if they start cracking down on some of that stuff. The handful of VHS tapes I had received from re-upping my subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids or that had made it into the family VHS collection were the ones I treasured most (along with Michael Jackson at the Motown 25 tape...don't ask).

So take away the spinning if you must, Goodell. But let the people have their sack dance. For God's sake, let them have that dance, man.


SBN has released a very thorough, very serious list of all acts which will be penalized as unsportsmanlike conduct.