Everybody stop pointing to the camera, strap your helmets back on, walk back to the sidelines - hey, I said walk, don’t strut - and listen up.
All this celebrating after every play, all the duckwalking, helmet-doffing and finger-pointing has gotten out of hand. It’s old and tiresome, and it’s time to stop.
Why, I turned on the Orange Bowl and saw a bunch of helmetless guys waving their arms, singing into the camera and dancing across the field with incredible choreographed precision. Naturally, I assumed it was still the halftime show. Instead, it was the Miami Hurricanes celebrating in the fourth quarter while Nebraska was rallying for 15 points to beat them.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with showing a little genuine emotion from time to time, but the overwhelming majority of these acts are choreographed strictly for individual glory on SportsCenter.
So knock it off. Whether its college or the pros, fans want to see teams working together, and we want to see football. If we wanted to watch dancing, we’d pop the ballet scene from “An American in Paris” into our VCRs.
After watching this celebration thing become epidemic the past couple of seasons, the NCAA football rules committee is considering expanding its unsportsmanlike conduct rules. The problem is, as soon as they rule out one thing, you players replace it with something else.
“It’s like obscenity,” NCAA media liaison Gregg Summers said. “You know unsportsmanlike conduct when you see it, but it’s very difficult to spell out what’s legal and illegal. If we had sat down three years ago and written down everything that’s unsportsmanlike, we would not have put down taking off your helmet. But that’s become a concern for a lot of people. Now you see guys who haven’t even crossed the goal line and they’re already reaching for their helmet.”
The last thing either the NCAA or the NFL needs is more rules, but you players have brought it upon yourselves. For gosh sakes, show a little discretion. Kordell Stewart celebrating a game-winning touchdown pass at Michigan is one thing, but elaborate production numbers have spread to every yard of the gridiron for every routine play. Henry Thomas holds Barry Sanders to a 4-yard gain and the next thing you know he’s delaying the game with a conga line through the Metrodome concourse with the Vikings cheerleaders.
What ever happened to walking back to the huddle?
“The rules are in place,” Summers said. “It’s now up to the officials to enforce the rules and the coaches to keep their players in line. Let’s face it, there are teams that don’t do that stuff. The coach either recruits a certain type of player or he is very successful in maintaining a proper level of respect that represents his school well.”
Right. You didn’t see Penn State showing up the opponent in its bowl game. Sure, after scoring his second touchdown in the Rose Bowl, Penn State’s Ki-Jana Carter took a few steps in what could be interpreted as the beginning of a celebratory dance. But he quickly came to his senses, walked sheepishly off the field and later apologized for violating Penn State decorum.
“We see guys do that on TV and they look like idiots,” Penn State tackle Keith Conlin said. “It’s like Joe (Paterno, Nittany Lions coach) says. You should be in the end zone more than once, so don’t get too excited when you’re there.”
The NFL and NCAA can legislate all they want, but other than banning highlight tapes and Chris Berman from the airwaves (the latter is a good move regardless of the reason), the only solution is the one Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz already has in place.
“We have a law,” he recently told reporters. “You can take off your headgear and point to the crowd and look into the camera if you make a good play. That’s provided you also do it after (you) fumble, after you drop a pass and after you miss a block.”