Work in Sports
Go it alone
Committee advises banning on-field group celebrations
Posted: Tuesday March 28, 2000 06:22 PM
PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- The NFL's competition committee will recommend a ban of planned on-field celebrations by more than one player.
After viewing tapes of NFL games, then seeing many of the elaborate celebrations on another film of high school games, the committee unanimously voted Tuesday to suggest a series of fines, but not yardage penalties.
The 31 owners will vote on the recommendation Wednesday, when they also will consider whether to retain instant replay.
"Two or more players performing an act they created is not in line with the game," said Minnesota Vikings coach Dennis Green, a co-chairman of the competition committee. "Hard feelings can kick into place and can cause retaliation or fisticuffs on the field.
"We think the best way to get it under control is fines."
The proposed rule would not affect taunting, which results in a 15-yard penalty and, often, fines.
Such celebrations as the Packers' Lambeau Leap or the Rams' Bob and Weave will be allowed, provided only one player is doing it.
"This gets to the 10 guys who make a circle to do something," Green said. "That is out.
"There is nothing wrong with enthusiasm. But it's more than it used to be. There's more publicity and the chance to be on the evening news, and maybe a guy makes the Pro Bowl if what he does is showing over and over every half hour."
Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Rich McKay, the other co-chairman of the committee, stressed that the NFL is not looking to become the "no fun league." It simply is trying to keep the celebrations under control and eliminate the choreographed programs that would make ice dancers proud.
"On the high school tape, the acts were direct copies of our acts," McKay explained. "It showed as a league you have some obligations."
As for instant replay, the committee voted 6-1 to recommend keeping the system that was installed last year after a seven-year absence. Cincinnati owner Mike Brown dissented.
"There were 110 games where it was never used, and 95 where it was used once," McKay said. "It wasn't intrusive. That's what we wanted from the system. It's an insurance policy to fix the [officiating] disaster that just occurred."
The committee will suggest making the offsides rule on kickoffs apply to any part of the body that is past the 30-yard line before the ball is kicked. In the past, players on the coverage team could be beyond the 30 while in the air, as long as they landed after the ball was kicked.
A clarification of what is a pass reception was made by the committee; it doesn't have to be voted on, and will be used beginning with the 2000 season.
"A receiver has to have possession of the ball and control of the ball," Green said. "Then, if his knee hits the ground and the ball hits the ground, as long as he maintained control of the ball, it's a catch."
That interpretation could become known as the Bert Emanuel Rule. In the NFC championship game in January, Emanuel made a diving catch in the final two minutes. It was then reversed by the referee after examining the replay, because the tip of the ball touched the ground -- even though Emanuel never lost control.
This year, that catch will count.
Green said there was much discussion on the intentional grounding rule. No changes were made, but officials will be instructed to stick to the letter of the law.