The NFL Found The Best Way To Ruin TD Celebrations — Make Them Legal!

Episode 15 of season 7 of the Office, “The Search,” is centered on Michael’s continued pursuit of Holly. Jim and Michael go out on a sales call and due to an emergency involving his and Pam’s baby, CeCe, Jim abandons Michael at a gas station bathroom. Michael is lost, and a search team led by Dwight, Erin, and Holly go to find him.

All of that leads to a very touching conclusion where Holly finds Michael using her uncanny sixth “Michael” sense to trace his movements around Scranton, but that isn’t the point here. Today, we are concerned with the subplot. Pam Halpert, known artist and doodler, made a sketch of a Sabre printer (which, spoiler, then owned Dunder Mifflin, so they sell printers as well as paper) which Jim posts to the break room refrigerator. Pam finds that two of her coworkers had written captions underneath the doodle, both of which insult the printer and the company.

Pam is amused and reads them aloud to the office to the horror of Gabe, a corporate Sabre rep working in the office, and to the delight of her colleagues. Pam offers to draw a new sketch, this time with the intention of it being captioned, to which the group responds with enthusiasm. A few scenes later, Pam presents this sketch. Gabe interrupts Pam’s announcement and says the caption contest can only continue if certain rules are followed. Failure to comply would result in Gabe sending the original printer doodle over to Joan, the company’s CEO. The rules are:

  1. No captions that insult the company.
  2. No pop culture references
  3. Participants are encouraged to use Sabre brand “Sticky Quips,” Post-it Note knock offs in the shape of cartoon quotation bubbles.

Gabe ends his announcement by encouraging the office to “Get Quipping!”

On May 23rd, after several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and hundreds of yards in penalties, it was reported the the NFL had relaxed its rules on touchdown celebrations. Things previously banned that are now permitted include using the ball as a prop, group celebrations, and going to the ground (like making snow angels in the end zone). Things still not permitted are things deemed offensive such as violent (miming shooting a gun) or sexually suggestive acts (Marshawn Lynch’s crotch-grabbing or Antonio Brown’s twerking), unsportsmanlike acts toward an opponent, or things that prolong the game.

There are some questions raised by the format of this rule loosening. Heaven forbid the outcome of the game be decided by what any given referee defines as an “offense” or “prolonged” celebration. There also is the innate sense that once you are allowed to do something, it becomes a lot less fun, especially if there are rules involved. In espionage and in business, coincidence takes a lot of effort. There is no mistake the league has made a sudden about face on the TD celebrations in the wake of a season where ratings were down and controversy surrounding the league mounted. The relaxation of the celebration rules stinks of focus group studies rather than genuine interest in being less stuffy.

It is always a funny feeling when you are told you are being allowed to have fun.

Some of the best NFL touchdown celebrations lived in the arena of subversion. You may recall Terrell Owens dancing with cheerleaders, Randy Moss “mooning” the fans, Joe Horn hiding a cell phone in the padding of the goal post; all of which crossed a line without doing actual harm. If nothing, more attention was brought to the league and more fun was had. While the league isn’t allowing celebrations such as those, the fact that they are now not only allowing, but encouraging, such celebrations, takes the subversion from the fun.

The NFL just told their players to “get quipping!”