In the movie “Footloose,” dancing was forbidden in the town of Bomont, Oklahoma. Kids and youthful spirits full of energy and excitement in the town of Bomont needed to let loose; they needed to celebrate and dance. But gosh-dern if the leaders of the town did not allow anyone to celebrate in the form of body-part gyration or synchronized rhythmic movement. No DANCING! It was prohibited by the powers that be, by the evil tyrants that ran the town of Bomont. No fun was to be had.
Several degrees from Kevin Bacon, and far removed from the fictional city of Bomont, the powers of the tyrannical National Football League (otherwise known as the No Fun League) are busy discussing business at the convention known as the NFL Combine.
The Combine is not only a meat market where the next batch of NFL talent will be plucked by NFL teams, but also a social event used to pass along information and bounce ideas off one another in order to better the league and its earnings.
On Tuesday it was reported that the NFL competition committee has looked into the matter of current celebration rules and this conversation will no doubt continue through the combine. USA Today reported that “there is a strong sense” that changes will be made to the rules to make them more clear for referees.
Last season there were 30 penalties due to celebratory acts. That is more than double the amount in the previous two seasons. That’s a lot of penalties for just having a tad bit of fun, while playing a game.
The NFL needs to change this rule and allow some entertainment and some self-promotion by the players, or else they are missing out on a great marketing and promotional opportunity.
Players in the NFL need to be known. The uniform, the helmet, the facemask all take away the individualism of the player and also take away some of the marketability of the player. The NFL could certainly use stars other than quarterbacks and they need to be recognizable without a number on their back. Celebrations are one way to do just that.
Von Miller has done an amazing job marketing for himself and for his team. After Peyton Manning left, there was a question about who was going to be the face of the Denver Broncos. There certainly is no doubt today who that is. The face of the Broncos is Von Miller. Cowboy hat, big glasses and a sack dance. We all know who Von Miller is, and no matter the scene we recognize him from a mile away. This probably wouldn’t be the case for the casual fan without the distinctiveness he has shown. Von has set himself apart both in his play and in his entertaining actions.
So should Von Miller get a flag or a league fine for a quick dance after sacking Tom Brady? No, he should get a medal and the key to the city!
The NFL also needs to lighten up on the celebration police because they need to know what is of actual importance. They need to get their priorities straight!
The NFL is in a marriage with its fans, and during this marriage (like any marriage) there is usually a period of time where you realize what is truly important and stop complaining about the mundane and trivial.
After time, arguments over dirty dishes usually get pushed to the side by conversations about mortgage payments. Arguments about how to properly fold towels get pushed to the side by dirty diapers and day care. When to mow the lawn turns into a conversation about making sure your parents’ lawn is also mowed. Small issues don’t seem so important when big issues arise. The NFL, much like some marriages, has bigger issues to address and need to stop worrying about the way towels are folded.
The NFL, like any other giant corporation, has its share of real problems. Employees and players with domestic violence cases, child abuse, drug abuse. Those are problems to worry about. Relocation and stadium deals for franchises attempting to stay in their current city, not forcing those who rely on the revenue to lose employment. That is something to worry about! Concussion issues, CTE and player safety both long- and short-term. That is something to address. Further adjudicating celebrations? Come on.
The NFL needs to let the players be individuals – characters – for the fans, for the players and for the NFL itself. Let players celebrate, and watch as the fans kick off their Sunday shoes. Because on the list of important things to ban and change, having a good time and cutting footloose just isn’t one of them.