Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson sparked controversy on Saturday when, after catching a five-yard touchdown on New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, he celebrated by pretending to shoot himself in the leg.
Johnson's intent was to mock Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who had been in jail for a weapons charge after accidentally shooting himself with an unregistered gun at a nightclub.
During the same celebration, Johnson also mocked the Jets by sticking his arms out, which is a common celebration for Jets players, and then pretending to crash. The act drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty and ultimately led to a short field and a touchdown for New York.
Regardless of the fact that Johnson made a poor decision in a critical situation, does the penalty on Johnson, and possible fine later this week, prove that the acronym "NFL" should stand for the "No Fun League"?
I think in this situation, both sides of the argument have valid points. On one hand, you could argue Johnson's celebration was all in good fun. Plaxico Burress has come back from jail and behaved himself very well, earning some respect back for himself, but the incident that happened two years ago was one of those "c'mon, man" moments that are hard not to make fun of.
On top of that, on-field trash talking takes place all the time, so why not take a lighthearted shot at the opponent when you make a good play?
On the other hand, you could also argue Johnson's celebration went too far. As I said before, Burress has come back and regained a lot of respect for himself and doesn't necessarily deserve to take more criticism for a mistake that he has already paid for.
Should celebrations like Stevie Johnson's be accepted as part of the game?
The NFL also has specific celebration rules in place, and when you break those rules (like Johnson did by falling to the ground), you can't expect not to be punished for it.
I am personally on the fence about this issue. At times the NFL does seem like the No Fun League, because players should be able to have fun on the football field. The rules can muddy things up and take the fun out of playing sometimes. However, if I were out there playing, you'd never see me celebrating like that (assuming I ever did anything worth celebrating). To me, self-praising celebrations only draw more attention to the individual player and inflate egos, rather than keeping the game about the team and the fans.
When it's all said and done, you could call the NFL the No Fun League. But it's a little disappointing that some players are so arrogant nowadays that they have to bring the attention to themselves to have fun on the football field.