ORLANDO, Fla. — After one season under the new celebration rules, the NFL’s touchdown dances are wildly popular.
Right, Mike Tomlin?
“I don’t like it, personally,” said the Steelers coach.
Tomlin spoke at the NFL owners’ meetings on Tuesday morning about a variety of subjects. When the celebrations came up, he didn’t hem and haw.
“It takes away from the game,” he said. “It’s not a good look for young people. Young people aren’t allowed to celebrate in that way, so why should we?”
Tomlin’s team is arguably the Super Bowl champs of the new choreographed celebrations. The Steelers had a dozen memorable performances after scores in 2017. The hide-and-seek game after a JuJu Smith-Schuster touchdown took longer to unfold than the actual play. Then there was Smith-Schuster mocking himself by chaining up his exercise bike on the sideline after his two-wheeled ride was stolen, and the Steelers mimicking Jalen Ramsey’s scuffle with A.J. Green. Of course, there was Antonio Brown’s infamous twerk, but he also had a dance that was reportedly part of a sponsorship deal with a video game. These aren’t spur-of-the-moment; they’re three-act plays.
So what does the head coach think when he sees this?
“Nothing,” he said flatly. “The next possession. I’m preparing, I’m moving on. I don’t even see ’em. I see ’em on television. In the game, you’re moving on.”
Tomlin has always been very cognizant of how the pro game influences lower levels of the sport. He has two sons, ages 17 and 16, who are high school players. He understands the need to appeal to that generation, which is as likely to share a celebration on social media as an actual touchdown play. Pretty much everyone, including the Steelers, has embraced the new celebrations as a needed jolt for the “No Fun League.” This is the one rule change that hasn’t been derided.
Tomlin, however, is happy to be the curmudgeon, even as his players make highlights between and after the whistles.
“We’ve relaxed the rules in that area,” the coach said Tuesday. “It’s for the entertainment of the fans so I respect it on that level, but personally I don’t like it.”
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