The rules on what is and isn’t allowed while celebrating on the football field have always been up for interpretation. While some players are exceedingly good at expressing themselves after a great play, referees will often throw flags almost arbitrarily depending on the who is celebrating and what their celebration consists of.
This year, the NFL attempted to combat that, loosening restrictions on rules meant to penalize players putting on a bit of razzle-dazzle.
Players will now be allowed to use the ball as a prop, celebrate as a group, and roll around on the ground in celebration should they choose to do so, without incurring a 15-yard penalty for their team. Dances and celebrations that are deemed offensive, including mimicking weapons or sexual acts, will still be penalized.
The distinction does give NFL players much more to work with, but also opens up the rules to interpretation that could lead to some confusion and inconsistencies. If a player gives a “first down” indication, could that be seen as an axe chop? If a player pulls a fake pin out of the football like a grenade, but never “explodes” indicating the ball as a dud, does that count as violence? Are two pumps allowed, but three too many?
To answer some of the questions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought referee Ed Hochuli to their training camp to give them an overview of the new rules, and as “Hard Knocks” captured, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had some questions on the finer points of how penalties would be assessed.
McCoy called over Hochuli and showed off some of his moves, which Hochuli was quick to say would be a penalty because it had, “Too much sexual stuff involved.” McCoy was quick to protest, saying “That’s not sex that’s knees!” but the ruling of the referee would stand.
Despite his insistence, it’s probably best that McCoy just avoid all lower body gyration should he score a touchdown this season or get a sack, just to be safe.
You can watch a clip of the scene that was shared by NFL Films on Twitter below.
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) August 11,2017