NFL Rule Change: Touchdowns Are Still Legal, Being Happy About Scoring One Not So Much

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 25 2014 5:51 PM

NFL Rule Change: Touchdowns Are Still Legal, Being Happy About Scoring One Not So Much

451237385-tight-end-jimmy-graham-of-the-new-orleans-saints
Tight end Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints celebrates a touchdown with a crossbar dunk.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Scoring touchdowns is an integral part of winning football games in the NFL. Otherwise, kickers would get paid more. But, celebrating the raison d’être of the sport is becoming increasingly difficult for NFL players. On Tuesday, it got even harder, as the crossbar slam dunk of the ball, one of the few remaining expressions of joy allowed on the gridiron, was reclassified as a misdemeanor offense. That’s according to the NFL’s head of officials, Dean Blandino, who told “The Dan Patrick Show” that starting next season touchdown dunks would result in a 15-yard penalty.

Long gone are the carefree days of the Ickey Shuffle. The reigning in of touchdown celebrations by the league hasn’t come overnight, and, the Washington Post points out, the “NFL cracked down on celebrations and banned the use of props a few years ago, but grandfathered in the Lambeau Leap and the crossbar dunk.” The crossbar, however, has been downgraded to prop status.

Advertisement

The general trajectory of the NFL’s tightening of  the rules on celebrations has been to prohibit taunting directed at opponents. It’s hard to see how a slam-dunk fits into that category, but that’s not to say that the endzone dunk is necessarily victimless. Last season, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham managed to knock the goalpost crooked, delaying the game while the grounds crew repaired the damage.

The rule change adds to the growing canon of NFL no-no’s. Here’s how things stood before the start of last season:

"Violations of (b) will be penalized if any of the acts are committed directly at an opponent. 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.”

Handing the ball to the ref and high fiving your teammate quietly is still allowed.



Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.