The No Fun League is no more.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has responded to increased criticism that the NFL discourages players from having fun by loosening the celebration rules following big plays. Goodell announced Tuesday at the league’s annual May meetings in Chicago that players can be more expressive without fear of incurring a penalty.
“We know that you love the spontaneous displays of emotion that come after a spectacular touchdown,” Goodell wrote in a statement aimed at fans. “And players have told us they want more freedom to be able to express themselves and celebrate their athletic achievements.”
Goodell said that after internal discussions and talks with more than 80 current and former players, celebrations involving the use of the football as a prop, group demonstrations and players going to the ground to celebrate will be allowed. Previously, those celebrations resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Not all demonstrations will be allowed, however. Among those that will still result in a penalty are moves deemed offensive or in bad taste, ones that embarrass or taunt opponents, and ones that mimic the use of weapons.
As a way to make sure celebrations aren’t prolonged, the league will adopt the use of the 40-second clock between the time a touchdown is scored and the extra point is attempted.
“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.”
Goodell said there will be further discussions on the topic.
“We know we have more work to do,” he said. “We are grateful to the many current and retired players who engaged with us on this topic, and we look forward to ongoing dialogue with them as we continue to work to improve this game we all love.”
NFL owners also adopted a rule that reduces overtime from 15 minutes to 10 in the preseason and regular season. The move was made as a way to reduce potential wear and tear on players, especially if they have a Thursday night game following a Sunday game.
Some coaches and executives have expressed concern that the reduced overtime would lead to more ties, but the league’s competition committee disagreed. The overtime rules will remain the same. Each team will have one possession, unless the team that gets the ball first scores a touchdown or the defense scores a touchdown on the initial possession of OT.
League owners approved a measure that will allow teams to bring two players back from injured reserve during the season. The previous rule allowed only one to return.
Owners also voted unanimously to move Super Bowl 55 to Tampa in 2021, while Los Angeles will host Super Bowl 56 the following year. Los Angeles initially was awarded Super Bowl 55, but because construction of a stadium for the Rams and Chargers won’t be completed until the 2019 season, the owners voted to push back the Los Angeles Super Bowl.