Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis isn’t the only one who objects to the NFL’s revised stance on end-zone celebrations. The NFL’s former head of officiating, Mike Pereira, now an analyst for Fox, is opposed to it, too, calling it “a real step backward.”
Nevertheless, the league last month announced that it was loosening rules on end-zone celebrations, permitting acts that a year before were subject to penalties. The decision was welcomed by coaches like Baltimore’s John Harbaugh and the Cowboys’ Jason Garrett, but Lewis — who is on the league’s competition committee — decried it, saying it is “not a very good example for young people.”
Pereira, who headed the league’s officiating department from 2001-2009, agreed.
“I think it’s a sad day,” he said on this week’s Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “I think that this is a step back that we worked … when I was there … so hard to kind of clean up the game and not send bad signals to young kids who were playing the game.
“This is not allowed in college. It’s not allowed in high school. It’s not allowed in Pop Warner. But now we set the tone as supposedly the idols, and kids are going to watch these acts again. And, to me, this is about the team, not the individual. They’re going to play to ESPN to see if they can get on the highlights. To me, it’s just a real step backward.”
Implicit in this debate is where it leaves on-field officials. What one coach believes is an over-the-top celebration that should be penalized another may see as justified under the NFL’s new policy. And that could be a problem for the official caught in between.
“That has been a problem already,” said Pereira. “It just maybe takes it down a notch. To me, you’re not going to see many penalties thrown for celebrations … period … unless it’s the absolute obvious twerking or the shooting of the six-guns.
“I mean, the video that the league put out of the plays that are now acceptable — which is using the football as a prop, doing group celebrations, going to the ground to do whatever you want, whether it’s a snow angel or whatever –this now opens it up to where I think the officials are pretty much out of the picture.
“Forget the delay thing. If there’s a delay-of-game (flag) thrown for a prolonged demonstration, I will be shocked. Because, quite frankly, that was in the book now for regular celebrations that were legal. There was language in the books that said it was legal unless it lasted too long and held up the try for (extra) point.
“Never happened. Never was flagged. We’ll be going forward now.”
Or backward, depending on your perspective.