Veteran tight end Vernon Davis caught a touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins during the second quarter against the Eagles on Sunday, marking his first score since the 2014 season.
To celebrate, Davis celebrated with his old free-throw routine: shooting the football through the uprights as though it were a basketball. That play was immediately flagged for a penalty.
In 2014, the NFL ruled that players are no longer allowed to use the football as a prop during touchdown celebrations.
Dean Blandino, the league’s vice president of officiating, specifically said at the time that “free throw” celebrations are now illegal.
“You can’t dunk,” Blandino said. “Layups, free-throws — that will all be unsportsmanlike conduct.”
This season, officials have regulated all touchdown celebrations to an extreme. It’s no surprise that Davis’ free-throw resulted in a 15-yard penalty, even if it seems silly that something so obviously innocuous would cause a flag.
Because of the penalty, the Redskins were forced to kick off from deep in their own territory. The Eagles ran that ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown.
You’re not stopping Wendell Smallwood.
As these two plays show, the excessive regulation of touchdown celebrations does more than just make the league less fun. It can also have a legitimate effect on the score, and thus the outcome, of the games.
Davis, of course, should have known better. Maybe he forgot about the “ball as a prop” rule, or maybe he just didn’t care.
Either way, a touchdown celebration as harmless as this one should not be the source of controversy.
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