NFL loosens up celebration dance rule

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“We know that you love the spontaneous displays of emotion that come after a spectacular touchdown," Goodell said a letter to fans. “And players have told us they want more freedom to be able to express themselves and celebrate their athletic achievements.”

The New York Times reported that the decision was made by NFL owners as one of several rule changes at the Spring League Meeting in Chicago Tuesday.

Other rule changes include decreasing regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10, allowing two players to come off of injured reserve instead of one, banning jumping over the line to block kicks, and the elimination of one of the preseason roster cuts.

The letter lists some examples of celebrations that will be allowed under the new policy: 

  • Using the football as a prop after a touchdown, such as simulating a basket ball jump shot with a football,
  • Celebrating on the ground -- such as making snow angels, and 
  • Group demonstrations, like a coordinated dance move.

Those approved types of celebrations, allowed after scores, are illustrated in the letter in GIF form. 

Still, it’s not a free for all, ESPN reported.

The History Of The NFL

“In my conversations with NFL players, it was also clear how much our players care about sportsmanship, clean competition and setting good examples for young athletes,” Goodell said. “That is why offensive demonstrations, celebrations that are prolonged and delay the game, and those directed at an opponent will still be penalized.”

So things like weapon imagery, such as a machine gun simulation, or sexually suggestive acts -- like Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown’s end zone twerking, are still things that can be penalized.

The strategy may lessen the number of unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties called on touchdowns. According to ESPN, the 2016 season had the highest number of penalties of the past five seasons with 29 called. Of the past three seasons, it has the highest cost of fines for touchdown celebrations at $310,301, up more than $240,000 from the 2015 season.

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