During his Tuesday press conference, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he was going to look for clarification from the league as to what wide receiver Antonio Brown can and cannot do as it relates to his post touchdown scoring celebrations so that he doesn’t receive any more unsportsmanlike conduct penalties moving forward. Tomlin no longer has to wait for clarification as Dean Blandino, the NFL’s Senior Vice President of Officiating, addressed the topic Tuesday evening on NFL Total Access as part of his weekly Official Review segment.
“Well, we certainly want the teams to have clarification and this isn’t a new issue. We’ve been dealing with this in the past and so we’re going to send a tape out in the next week or so and clarify some of these things,” Blandino said. “But the key is, if it’s a gesture that either mimics a violent act, whether that’s something with a firearm or a bow and arrow, or a sexually suggestive act, those are unsportsmanlike conduct, that’s unsportsmanlike conduct and something officials will flag.
“That’s a direct from the competition committee and something that we’re going to continue to try to be as consistent as possible. We certainly don’t want our officials getting too specific with the announcement, we can have a little fun with that, but it’s unsportsmanlike conduct, it’s an unsportsmanlike gesture and that’s something we’ll continue to emphasis throughout the season.”
While Blandino’s response is welcomed and timely, it’s clear that officials around the league aren’t consistent when it comes to them deciding what is and isn’t sexual suggestive. While Brown has now been flagged twice so far this season for his hip thrusting and twerk-like celebrations, Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders wasn’t flagged at all for doing something very similar following one of his scores a few weeks ago in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
It’s interesting that Blandino mentioned the NFL competition committee in his response as Tomlin has been a member of that for several years now. In other words, Tomlin should have already known that sexually suggestive celebrations by players could potentially be flagged. In defense of Tomlin, however, is the fact that he might not view what Brown is doing after he scores as sexually suggestive. That’s in the eye of the beholder, right?
It appears as though what is or isn’t deemed a sexually suggestive celebration depends on which official observes the act as there certainly hasn’t been any uniformity so far this season. In the case of Brown, it appears as though he’s had a few uptight officials flag him for his celebrations. Maybe he just dances really bad. Don’t we already know that to be true thanks to him being on Dancing with the Stars this past offseason?
The league certainly has no issues with team’s cheerleaders running around half-dressed on the sidelines during games, however, and they will gladly allow television networks who pay them a ton of money to broadcast their games to show sexually suggestive commercials. Sounds sort of hypocritical to me.
This has really gotten comical now and I wonder what Billy “White Shoes” Johnson thinks about all of this. In my opinion, as long as players aren’t taunting another player with their celebration and not using any props, they should all be able to dance as they see fit after they score.