Goodell's statement said that using the football as a prop, celebrating on the ground and group celebrations will now be allowed. Tom Pelissero of USA Today first reported the news, noting some exceptions to the new policy:
Pelissero added: "Goodell has been meeting with players for months on this. Emphasis on spontaneous exuberance. Result should be more fun, fewer flags."
Peter King of The MMQB wrote about the likely rule changes Monday:
The NFL flagged and fined 26 players for excessive celebration last year; most of those celebrations this season will not be penalized or fined. Commissioner Roger Goodell and his staff met on at least two occasions this spring with a large group of players (one club official told me Goodell talked with more than 40 players about this issue) and came to his senses: It's asinine to use the "ball as prop" reason to penalize players, and even more asinine to fine someone $12,000 for the simple act of expressing joy after scoring a touchdown. Most of those penalties will disappear Tuesday at the league meeting.
The NFL's strict celebration rules have been unpopular with both fans and players and have led to the league's nickname of the "No Fun League."
Goodell, meanwhile, has defended the stricter rules on the basis of sportsmanship.
"It's also something that we've been dealing with for well over 35 years since I've been in the league in the same concept: balancing sportsmanship, avoiding taunting and trying to allow players the ability to express themselves in an exuberant way to celebrate," he said in February, per Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post. "We think that's great. We want to see more of that. We want to see the players do that. But we want to see them do it respectfully to their teammates and their opponents."
Many players felt the NFL strayed too far from allowing them to express themselves and entertain fans in the process, however.
"I think that's what is really taking the joy and the enjoyment out of the game," former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens said of the strict celebration rules, per Tesfatsion. "Really, for fans, they not only want to see their team win; they don't just only want to see a good product from both squads, but they want to see some entertainment."
Given the expected rule changes, it appears the NFL is trying to strike a better balance between sportsmanship and self-expression. Perhaps the "No Fun League" will become an outdated moniker in the process.