Excessive celebrating is out of control in professional football (and college too). I took it upon myself to develop a solution. If accepted, this solution would discourage unnecessary celebrations, increase fan enjoyment, AND create more jobs in a lousy economy.
Before proceeding, let me clarify that I am not against touchdown celebrations, game winning hug-fests, or general euphoria after a fantastic play that warrants recognition. In fact, I generally enjoy these moments. On the other hand, I’m sick of watching a linebacker dance around after a routine tackle, or a tight end flexing his muscles following a first down reception. –Nice job pal, really nice job. Maybe next time you could get back to the huddle before the play clock expires.
While, to some degree, excessive celebrations exist in every sport, football is the absolute worst. Due to the game’s tempo, hockey players don’t have the luxury to stop and pound their chests. The same is true for basketball (mostly). Baseball is full of individual face time (batting, fielding, pitching, baserunning), so hot-dogging barely exists. In football, there’s an endless amount of time between plays. Players exploit this lapse for “me time,” and we’re forced to watch. No mas!
Allow me to introduce the, “Remember When…,” hereby referred to as “RW.” (Yeh, the name sucks. I need help with a better one.) The “RW” would best be explained via a specific scenario. Here we go…
Dallas RB, Marion Barber takes a handoff and rumbles into the secondary. Barber is met with a solid shoulder lunge from Philadelphia CB Asante Samuel. Barber goes down, play is over. Samuel bounces up, darts 20 yards upfield – away from the crowd of players – crosses his arms over his chest, and emphatically nods his head. Celebrating a fundamentally poor tackle, after an 18 yard gain nonetheless, isn’t necessary.
The NFL already has a reputation as the “No Fun League,” so it won’t address this issue. Instead, home teams will need to accept responsibility. If the aforementioned scenario played out at Lincoln Financial Field (Samuel’s home stadium), the crowd would shower Samuel with praise. On the road, Samuel would become the victim of a “RW” segment on the stadium’s video screen. A clip like this or this (go to 27 second mark, the flying missile that bounces is Asante) would be introduced with Michael Jackson’s, “Do you remember the time?…”
Now, here’s the glitch: The home team(s) must embrace this approach. Obviously, they control the video screens in the stadiums. If teams don’t jump on board, the whole thing falls apart. I know what you’re thinking, “Why would a team welcome this in their own stadium?” Three reasons; money, improved fan experience (not that they really care), and money.
Video screens in state of the art stadiums have almost become as big an attraction as the games (see Cowboys Stadium). I have no idea how much advertising revenue these screens generate for a team, but I’d imagine it’s a lot. Due to the comedy factor, the “RW” moment would unquestionably become a fan favorite. As a result, it would be the “prime” in-game advertising slot. (e.g. This “Remember When” moment is brought to you by Burger King, home of Whopper Wednesdays. [Cue Michael Jackson intro…]) Similar to TV’s advertising structure, teams could demand more for these segments.
If you think fans won’t gravitate toward the “RW,” you’re crazy. Anything intended to humiliate the opposing team will always be overwhelmingly popular with the home crowd. It will surpass the kiss cam, dance cam, even the drunk guy with no shirt cam. Next time Dre Bly overreacts in an opponent’s stadium, an “RW” clip will treat fans to Bly’s premature high step routine in 2009 against the Falcons.
Once the “RW” solution is implemented, fans will eagerly wait for an opposing player to make a routine play and excessively celebrate. (This would be very similar to my days walking to class in a winter storm. Someone was going to fall; the anticipation of waiting for such was just too exciting.) Next time your tortured by Shawne Merriman’s “lights out dance” (this play warranted the celebration, it’s the best video I could find though) in your own stadium, the video screen will feature an assortment of Tila Tequila footage mixed with steroid syringes …Whoa… hold on. This could get out of hand. We need some ground rules.
Without regulation, the “RW” would result in lawsuits and possible depression for its victims. What begins as innocent teasing, could escalate to verbal grenades, and culminate in chairs being thrown across the kitchen. (Anyone who shared a house with four males during college is nodding their head right now. We’ve all seen this or been a part of it. It happens.) The goal is to embarrass the opposing player for being a dope, not ruin his life. Therefore, the following rules would apply.
Rule #1: No personal content of any kind may be included. All content must be former plays or comments (football related) made by the individual. Dating history, personal/family life, drug abuse, murders (this one’s for you, Ray) or known venereal diseases are no fly zones.
Rule#2: No video editing. Obviously, footage can be cut to make for more efficient and enjoyable viewing, but photo-shopping, special effects, or creating footage that never actually happened won’t be permitted.
Rule#3: The NFL representative overseeing RW segments must not be a fan of the competing teams. His/her authority must be unbiased in determining whether or not the celebration was unnecessary. (See, more jobs. There’s also potential for teams to hire individuals to scour the internet, game film, interviews, etc… for embarrassing footage of future opponents. The possibilities are endless. I should be President.)
Alright, that’s a cute idea, but it won’t work. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. What we do know is that players celebrate too much. Miles Austin’s stupid first down routine is unbearable, as is a defensive lineman’s two-step after deflecting a pass. The “RW” segments won’t completely eliminate these celebrations, but it will at least decrease their frequency. After all, a player can only handle being the butt of a joke in front of 70,000+ fans so many times. Even a professional athlete’s ego can’t bear that much abuse or humiliation.
Ideally, players will grow accustom to the ridicule associated with stupid celebrations and eliminate them from their game day repertoire. Worst case scenario, players save their celebrating for home games. Absolute worst case scenario, nothing changes and fans love the additional entertainment.
The “RW” is in its infancy stage. There’s plenty of tweaking still to be done. It may not be the perfect solution, but it’s a start. At the very least, fans will get a good laugh. What’s not to like?