NFL referees made it clear they want to see changes to the widely despised exessive celebration penalties that have become all-too-frequent interruptions in recent years.
Scott Green, the head of the NFL Referees Association, said in a radio interview that referees would prefer if the NFL would discipline players by fining them and remove celebration penalties from the game. The league, however, wants to refrain from fining players and instead rely on referees to make judgment calls on the field.
Cris Carter, Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless debated the best way to police celebrations on Monday's episode of Undisputed - and while the NFL Hall of Famers want the NFL to take a more active role, Bayless argued that the 15-yard penalties are a 'necessary evil.'
The burden of policing celebrations shouldn't be placed on refs
“It’s not a matter of whose side I’m on. It’s a matter of how the game is going to be officiated. Do I think the officials are right, or do I think the league is right?
In high school football, the referees run the game. You get to college football, the refs definitely run that game, enforce the rules. They run that game.
In the National Football League, the NFL runs the game. Now, the officials are active participants in officiating what the NFL wants done, but them deciding what’s a penalty based on the celebration, and also based on something that’s been done in the NFL for a long, long time.
So now, all these rule changes. The speed of the game is changing. The technique for which they’re asking the referees [to use] has changed.
So [the NFL’s] making their job far more difficult, and now they’re asking them to make a judgment call based on their personality, based on their background, based on what they believe is excessive, to call another penalty on a game that’s already too difficult and moving too fast for them."
USA TODAY SportsRobert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
The NFL wants to be able to shift blame to referees
"So why put this on them? Put it right back on who it should be on: whoever runs the game. The NFL runs the game, so the NFL should control the celebration or allow the celebration. It shouldn’t be up to the referees.
The referees - they should be trying to either get the ball, spot the ball for the extra point, allow the game to breathe because when you score, there should be some breath.
… The NFL, they can mandate the rules. All they have to do is send out a memo [detailing] what’s going to be allowed. We know the guys are going to toe the line and go beyond the line, but that’s up to the league. They run the league, they own it, so they can handle that and handle the fining.
They can’t have things both ways. They want to be able to blame it the referees, and then handle the penal part of things. No, run the game.”
Ken BlazeKen Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
The NFL is trying to take the easy way out
“I’ve got a problem with this, because here it is again: The NFL is trying to pass the buck. Trying to take the easy way out.
The officials are saying ‘don’t put me in a situation [where] a team scores a touchdown, now they go up by two points. The guy’s excited because they’ve been behind the entire game. He’s excited, in his moment of celebration now I’ve got to throw a 15-yard penalty [for] unsportsmanlike conduct. Excessive celebration. Now I’ve got to back the team that’s kicking off 15 yards further back on the kickoff.’
And now guess what happens? Now they get a [short field], they kick that field goal and it’s like ‘why did you throw that flag?’”
Bob DonnanBob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Penalties should be common-sense judgments
“NFL, you set the rules. It should be some common sense on what a flag is. If it’s sexual in nature, it should be a 15-yard penalty. If it resembles violence, you know, the throat slash or the six-shooters. OK.
This what I ask the players that talk about. 'Well, I don’t know [if this is acceptable].’
If you would have a problem with your small child doing any of these celebrations ... We’ve got to have some common sense.”
USA TODAY NETWORKJim Matthews-USA TODAY Sports
Celebration penalties are a necessary evil
“I’m not with either one of you guys on this one. On this one, they have tried to fine the Antonio Browns of the world and it’s just not enough. It’s not going to stop them, because players are making too much money and they will accept the fines to enhance their brands.
They will accept that fact that it might increase a little bit more next week if I can get away with a little bit more, and it’s OK because it’s going to make me more famous and allow me to make more off the field that will cover my fines.
So, to me, it’s a necessary evil that the refs are just going to have to figure out how to police. Because if it doesn’t get policed immediately, [it will spiral out of control]. I’m with the league on this. That’s why I asked you about replay review.”
Kelley L CoxKelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Players will always find a way to push the boundaries of what's legal
“I agree with you, Shannon, it sounds pretty simple. Sexual in nature, violent in nature, no. And you send out the pre-season memo, but you know what’s going to happen. They’ll push it and they’ll push it and then, all of a sudden, if you don’t fine and the refs are hesitant to throw the flags it will go completely out of control.
And I’m no stick-in-the-mud fuddy-duddy on this, I just think there’s a limit.”
Steve MitchellSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The NFL wants officials to take the heat from fans
“Here’s the thing. The fans and players are saying NFL is ‘No Fun League.’ So the NFL doesn’t want to be looked at as the ‘No Fun League,’ they want to put it on the officials.
‘Hey, we didn’t fine him, but the officials called it so that was his judgment.’”