NFL relaxes rules on celebrations - but no twerking allowed
'No Fun League' loosens up to give players given more leeway to 'express themselves' after big plays
American footballers will once again be allowed to celebrate their big plays next season after the NFL - which had been dubbed the No Fun League - relaxed its rules.
Following a sharp rise in so-called "demonstration" penalties last season, with players fined for what was considered excessive celebrations, the league has amended the rules governing what players can and can't do after a touchdown.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the changes would give players "more freedom to be able to express themselves and celebrate their athletic achievements", reports USA Today.
But he added: "Offensive demonstrations, celebrations that are prolonged and delay the game, and those directed at an opponent, will still be penalised."
However, "using the football as a prop", “celebrating on the ground” and “group demonstrations” will be allowed.
"Our days of ridiculing the NFL for its stodgy and uptight response to harmless player celebrations are over," says Kevin Seifert of ESPN. "For the most part. Probably."
Fans will be able to enjoy "elaborate multi-player performances" after touchdowns and scorers will be allowed to make "snow angels" by lying on their backs after scoring, for example, he adds.
The rule on using the ball as a prop "was responsible for so many of the most mystifying penalties" last season, including one for tossing it over the posts, continues Seifert: "Now we can go back to pretending the football is a baby and rocking it."
Although the NFL has loosened its "death grip" on celebrations, players will not have carte blanche, says Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. Twerking remains banned - and that could be bad news for Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to Victor Mather of the New York Times.
"[Brown] was penalized and fined in Week 1 for twerking after a touchdown and again in Week 4 for thrusting his pelvis," he says.
Other misdemeanours he names include Josh Norman of the Washington Redskins, who "drew a penalty and a fine for miming shooting an arrow.
"The crackdown was such a hot topic that Andrew Hawkins of the Cleveland Browns celebrated a touchdown by stiffly placing the ball on the turf and robotically walking away in a nod to the tough rules."