(NESN) — Here come the no-fun police again. The NFL is cracking down on player celebrations yet again as the 2013 season approaches, and this time the league is targeting some popular touchdown celebrations, according to ESPN 1500 in Minnesota. NFL officials have been instructed to stress unsportsmanlike conduct penalties this season, with a greater emphasis on “any player who throws, spikes or spins the ball after the whistle is blown,” Andrew Krammer of ESPN 1500 writes. This is not a new rule being implemented this season, as the NFL’s 2012 official playing rules do state that players “will be penalized if any of the acts are committed directly at an opponent.” The excessive celebration ruling would result in a 15-yard penalty under Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 of the rulebook. The rule reads: “These acts include but are not limited to: sack dances; home run swing; incredible hulk; spiking the ball; throwing or shoving the ball; pointing; pointing the ball; verbal taunting; military salute; standing over an opponent (prolonged and with provocation); or dancing.” So, while the rule isn’t new this year, officials will be focusing more on those rather common celebrations this season than in years past. That means Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith will have to be more careful about his celebratory ball spin, and it could mark an end to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski‘s patented “Gronk spike.”
How can you outlaw a spike? Honest to God question. There’s no way they can do this, right? A spike is the most basic form of touchdown celebration in existence. If you outlaw the spike then you just need to outlaw being happy for scoring. The spike is football. It’s as football as a running back dive or a crushing hit over the middle. You want to outlaw taking pens from your socks and autographing balls? Or hiding cell phones in the goal post? Fine. But outlawing the spike is the definition of overcorrecting. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gronk doesn’t even bother coming back this year over this. If you can’t have fun doing it then what’s the point?