Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has seen his share of touchdown celebrations having coached Chad Johnson for eight seasons and Jeremy Hill for three, but he hasn’t grown any fonder of them.
On Tuesday, Lewis made it clear he was not pleased with the NFL’s decision to relax the rules of celebrations.
“I’m not for that at all,” Lewis said. “We had a good standard, and the whole standard has always been you want to teach people how to play the game the correct way and go about it the correct way. And that’s not a very good example for young people.”
In a letter to fans, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he consulted with more than 80 current and former players about relaxing the celebration rule.
“We know that you love the spontaneous displays of emotion that come after a spectacular touchdown,” the commissioner wrote. “And players have told us they want more freedom to be able to express themselves and celebrate their athletic achievements.”
The other changes were voted on by NFL owners as they met in Chicago. One of the changes involved reducing overtime from 15 to 10 minutes.
“I think the reason it came up is because obviously if you’re – which hasn’t happened yet – a team that was playing on Sunday afternoon and they had to turn around and play a Thursday game, the trend recently would be that’s a lot of plays,” Lewis said. “And so just trying to keep a team from having that burden. It may cause a couple of ties each season, from which I understand from the league’s standpoint, that’s good for tiebreakers. That could be one of the outcomes of it.”
Like celebrations, overtime length is a subject Lewis knows well.
Two of the last three ties in the NFL, and three of six, have involved the Bengals (27-27 vs. Washington in 2016, 37-37 vs. Carolina in 2014, 13-13 vs. Philadelphia in 2008).
Three of the last four overtime games the Bengals have played, and five of their last nine, went beyond the new 10-minute limit.
“A lot of guys we had were spent at the end of that Washington game,” Bengals tackle and NFLPA president Eric Winston said. “The amount of plays that we were going into it with, there were a lot of guys that played a lot of plays in that game. If that thing didn’t end when it did … as the game went on and on, I don’t know because I didn’t go through and count, but it definitely felt like as we got more into that game there were more injuries.
“I don’t know what the amount of plays is from 10:01 to 15 minutes, we’ll see what happens,” Winston added. “I’m not opposed to changing some rules as long as you’re willing to be agile and shift it if it doesn’t work.”
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Another rule change approved was to allow teams to bring back two players from Injured Reserve instead of one. That could have benefited the Bengals last year when they had to choose between Cedric Peerman and William Jackson, when they opted to bring back their Pro Bowl special teams player instead of their rookie first-round cornerback.
The owners also voted to eliminate the first roster cutdown period, when teams had to trim their rosters from 90 to 75 before the final cut from 75 to 53. The new rule will give teams more players to work with in the final preseason game when the majority of starters and top backups don’t play.