Friday, September 21, 2018
Sports

Yes, it really is a No Fun League

Twerking? Don't do it, Antonio Brown.

Shooting a fake bow and arrow? No way, Josh Norman and Brandin Cooks.

Taking off your helmet? Nope, Odell Beckham Jr.

Shooting a jump shot over the crossbar? Forget about it, Vernon Davis.

NFL officials are throwing penalty flags for illegal celebrations and taunting with increasing regularity this season as part of the league's push for improved sportsmanship among players. Some players, fans and other observers wonder if the kind of crackdown that earned the sport the nickname of the "No Fun League" over the years has gone too far this time.

"I didn't know it was a penalty . . . I was doing that when I was in San Francisco and now all of a sudden it's a penalty," said Davis, the veteran tight end for the Washington Redskins. "(It was) like: 'Hey, where'd that come from, guys?' "

Davis' transgression was illegally using the football as a prop by flipping it, basketball jump shot-style, over the crossbar following a touchdown catch last Sunday against the Eagles.

"You're just shooting the ball over the goal post," Davis said after the game. "You're not taunting. I don't think that's taunting. You're just celebrating, right? But, like I said, it's out of my control. All I can do is correct it next time and not shoot it."

That's what the NFL wants to hear.

"It comes down to balancing a lot of issues, the professional standards that we want to uphold," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday following the owners' meeting in Houston. "We do believe that our players are role models and others look at that at the youth level. So that's important for us to hold that standard up. And it's part of being a professional."

Goodell spoke of sportsmanship when he directed the competition committee this past offseason to propose a rule requiring an automatic ejection of any player penalized twice for unsportsmanlike-conduct personal fouls in the same game.

The automatic ejection rule has had little impact on this season thus far. But the sportsmanship push has been seen more prevalently in other areas. There have been 16 penalties through Week 6 for excessive celebrations and illegal demonstrations, compared with 10 at this point last season. There have been 21 taunting penalties, up from 11 last season.

"Taunting fouls are up this year," Goodell said. "It's probably a combination of making that a point of emphasis. But we look at that as sportsmanship."

Some have criticized the league for attempting to legislate the joy out of the game or acting overly paternalistic toward players. Players have said they mean no harm.

Cooks, who has avoided being penalized for his bow-and-arrow routine while Norman was penalized and fined for his, says his gesture is inspired by Bible passages.

"I've been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it," Cooks told the New Orleans Advocate. "Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating."

Some of the penalties have resulted in significant on-field consequences. The Eagles returned the kickoff for a touchdown after the Redskins were pushed 15 yards back by Davis's penalty.

Davis was asked whether he thought what he did should constitute a penalty.

"I don't think so," he said. "But like I said, it's out of my control."

And was it even a good shot?

"It was a great shot!"

Comments

FitzMagic is everywhere, even in Cleveland

It feels like there's FitzMagic in the air everywhere these days, even in Cleveland.When Baker Mayfield came off the bench Thursday night to lead the Browns to a 21-17 win over the Jets — Cleveland's first victory in 635 days — he became ...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Examining Florida-Tennessee, FSU-NIU and the other state college football matchups

Examining Florida-Tennessee, FSU-NIU and the other state college football matchups

Eye on the NFL draftAt 6-foot-1, 237 pounds, Northern Illinois DE Sutton Smith doesn't have NFL size, but he does have next-level productivity. He ranked in the top four nationally last year in sacks, tackles for loss and fumbles forced/recovered. Fl...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jimbo vs. Saban (again), CCC alum Jeff Smith starring and more national nuggets

Jimbo vs. Saban (again), CCC alum Jeff Smith starring and more national nuggets

Local of the weekBoston College WR Jeff Smith (Clearwater Central Catholic)After recording the first 100-yard game of his career last week, Smith could be in for another big showing against a bad Purdue pass defense. He'll try to help the No. 23 Eagl...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Browns end their 19-game winless streak, and the Baker Mayfield has begun

Browns end their 19-game winless streak, and the Baker Mayfield has begun

CLEVELAND — At some point, Baker Mayfield was going to assume Cleveland's starting job and become the franchise quarterback, the future.That moment arrived Thursday night.His days as a backup are over.Throwing a 14-yard dart to complete his fi...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Heisman watch: Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins joins the mix

Heisman watch: Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins joins the mix

5. Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins: Putting up 352 yards of offense on TCU is enough to join the top five.4. Houston DL Ed Oliver: Leads all active players with 1.57 tackles for a loss per game and should pad that stat against poor Texas Southern.3. Wes...
Updated: 4 hours ago
College football Week 4 viewing guide

College football Week 4 viewing guide

Lamest time window: Early. Just make sure you're around for the late afternoon/evening slate.Noon: No. 8 Notre Dame has had back-to-back shaky weeks. A third in a row could mean a loss at Wake Forest.3:30: It's not saying much, but No. 22 Texas A&M w...
Updated: 5 hours ago
How do you really feel, Carlos Gomez?

How do you really feel, Carlos Gomez?

Rays veteran OF Carlos Gomez made his feelings about being ejected from Thursday's game by home plate umpire Andy Fletcher quite clear in a series of Twitter posts and a live video.Gomez was in the dugout complaining about being called out on strikes...
Updated: 10 hours ago
How to kill playoff chances? Rays blow six-run lead in 9th, lose 9-8 to Jays

How to kill playoff chances? Rays blow six-run lead in 9th, lose 9-8 to Jays

TORONTO — The Rays had done so much right in making their entertaining, exciting and endearing September run to make it a race for the final American League playoff spot.But it was what they couldn't do Thursday night, get the final three outs ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Blue Jays game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Blue Jays game

As if the Rays haven't been innovative enough — with relievers starting and starters relieving, with pitchers playing infield spots and infielders playing the outfield — Thursday they unveiled a four-man outfield.Thursday was another exam...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Carrollwood Day-Admiral Farragut postponed until Oct. 4

ST. PETERSBURG — The prep football game between Admiral Farragut and Carrolllwood Day was suspended with four minutes remaining in the second quarter and the Blue Jackets holding a 14-6 lead. The game will be resumed on Oct. 4.Admiral Farragut ...
Updated: 11 hours ago