CHICAGO — The NFL’s newly relaxed TD celebration rules have become official, and most observers are rejoicing the change.
Don’t count Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis among them. The NFL’s second-longest tenured head coach (behind Bill Belichick) and a longtime member of the league’s competition committee spoke out against the allowance of group celebrations, using the ball as a prop and other more liberal expressions of joy on the field.
“I’m not for that at all,” Lewis said, via ESPN. “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.”
Earlier in the day, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had spoken of the “positive development” the league had taken in asking players, fans, coaches and more about allowing touchdown celebrations to be more, well, fun again. Asked his reaction to Lewis’ stance on the new celebration rules, Goodell said it was nothing new to him.
“Well, I’ve heard it from Marvin before,” Goodell said. “We’ve had these discussions before over the years, and I think the players will do this in a way that is responsible and do it in a way that is entertaining but also respectful.”
It was a pretty quick dismissal of Lewis’ dissent, and the coach might be in the minority on this issue. He also might want some perspective good examples for young people considering his Bengals have stood behind Adam Jones despite his slew of off-field indiscretions and drafted Joe Mixon, who punched a woman in 2014 in a public argument.
If Lewis was any other coach arguing that the celebration rules were not a positive development, there might have been a reasonable amount of backlash and “get off my lawn” jokes. But given Lewis’ team’s record with offering a safe haven for talented but troubled players, his message is laughable.
“The rules were changed for a reason, and I thought we had a good outcome,” Lewis said. “Again, this is a team game, and … I don’t understand why we want to give in to individual celebrations.”
Had Lewis merely said this, he might have an argument he could defend. But his poor choice of words about examples and young people and his track record for ignoring serious character concerns with his own players render most of what Lewis said moot, from that perspective.
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