Should the NFL stand for the "No Fun League"?
The crackdown on touchdown celebrations and end zone dances has been going on for years. But during Tuesday night's episode of Showtime's "Inside the NFL," Jets receiver Brandon Marshall divulged that he was almost flagged for a penalty during Sunday's win over the Redskins for praying after a score.
"Sunday, I score a touchdown and I fall to the ground and I put my hands up and I pray, like I always do," Marshall said, referring to his 35-yard shoestring catch-and-run touchdown in the second quarter of the Jets' 34-20 win. "The ref comes to me and said: 'Brandon, that's a celebration. Were you praying? Because if you weren't, we're going to have to throw that flag.' "
"Are you kidding me? Is that a flag? . . . It happened," Marshall insisted. "It's true."
Gone are the days when NFL players could show up opponents with choreographed dances and outrageous TD celebrations. And the enforced rules of the so-called "No Fun League" are in stark contrast to other professional sports, such as Major League Baseball.
"Jose Bautista smashes the ball, home run, throws the bat up, stares at the pitcher," Marshall said, referring to the Blue Jay's 442-foot game-winning hit in Game 5 of the ALDS.
"And what does the MLB do? They celebrate it."
Cut Heyward a break
Marshall also discussed the NFL's decision to twice fine Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward for honoring his late father, former NFL fullback Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, on his eye black.
Though the Jets receiver believes rules should be followed, he noted there's "a lot of gray" area when it comes to NFL players paying tribute to their loved ones on game day.
"There needs to be rules. We can't have 2,000 guys out there running around looking like yo-yos. We can't have that," Marshall said, before pointing out that former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still used his platform as an NFL player to bring awareness to his daughter Leah's fight against cancer. "We can't have that gray -- and there's a lot of gray."
Still wrote "Leah Strong" on his eye black last season as a way of supporting his then-4-year-old, who had stage four cancer. The groundswell of support for Still raised awareness about pediatric cancer and research. But unlike Heyward, Still was not fined by the NFL.
Heyward -- whose father died of brain cancer in 2006 at age 39 -- was fined $5,787 for wearing eye black that read "Iron Head" during the Steelers' Monday Night Football game against the Chargers. Heyward wore the same eye black Sunday against the Cardinals, and he'll likely be fined again. According to ProFootballTalk.com, the NFL will continue to fine Heyward the amount of a repeat offender of uniform rules: $11,576.
"Look at Devon Still's story," Marshall said. "It seems like Devon was able to raise a lot of money off of it. The NFL was able to capitalize off of it because there were a lot of eyeballs on our game, which is good. This isn't as big of a story. Now, we are telling this guy [Heyward] you can't do it anymore, we are fining you. And that's a lot of gray. Let's come up with the right plan, the right system to allow guys to do what they need to do or what they feel is right and is not taking away from the game.
"The NFL will have to do a better job of not picking and choosing."