Reports came out that NFL referees working training camps were warning players of the league’s desire to penalise players’ celebrations that came too close to taunting with a 15-yard penalty.
The NFL is encouraging its referees to make a 2013 rule against player celebration a point of emphasis this year, but the rule might not be as harsh as everyone first called it out to be. Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 reads:
“Violations of (b) will be penalised 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.”
At first we thought this was bad news for Patriots tight end and celebrator extraordinaire Rob Gronkowski, who marked most of his 38 career touchdowns with his patented one-handed monster slam.
However, the NFL has reminded the media of the “directly at an opponent” part of the rule. Deadspin also learned from the NFL that the crackdown on celebrating will only apply on non-scoring plays. The NFL is trying to prevent incidents that slow the rate of play. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the average number of plays per game have increased every year over the past five seasons, up to 128.4 last year. With more rookies coming into the league as products of no-huddle, Oregon-style offenses, the move makes sense.
So after a flirtation with peril, it seems the Gronk Spike is safe, as long as the slam is directed at no on in particular, and he only does it when he scores. We look forward to seeing more of this:
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