Imrem: Let's give a hand to NFL on new celebration rules

Now NFL players really have something to celebrate.

This week the league granted them wider discretion to make fools of themselves in the end zone after scoring touchdowns.

Why now? Why after all these years of restraining players? Have owners finally figured out a way to monetize the celebrations?

One theory is that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell rethought the issue after beating Tom Brady into submission over Deflategate.

Goodell might have danced around his office, spiked a paper weight to the floor, laughed in the face of a Fathead poster of Brady and said, “Hmmm, this is so much fun that maybe we should turn players loose.”

Yes, you heard it here first, that's probably how the new policy came about.

For the record, here would be a few of my favorite responses by Chicago Bears players if they ever score with Mike Glennon or Mitch Trubisky at quarterback.

Take out a knife and fork and eat bacon off the top of the football … Quietly hand the ball to the referee … Take out a camera phone and take a selfie with, say, Will Ferrell … Quietly hand the ball to the offensive lineman who threw the key block …

You see, going goofy is OK. Being dignified is OK. It takes both kinds. Each is OK in its own way.

The same can be said for other sports, especially tradition-bound baseball.

If Jose Bautista wants to flip his bat up, up and away after hitting a home run, good for him. If the opposing pitcher wants to pump his fist after hitting Bautista, that's his privilege.

The question is whether it's all right to hurt the other team's feelings — taunting, it's called — which always reminds me of being taught the Italian Finger Game in college.

(No, it's not what you're thinking; its official name is Morra.)

Here's the Wikipedia description: “Morra is a hand game that dates back thousands of years to ancient Roman and Greek times. Each player simultaneously reveals their hand, extending any number of fingers, and calls out a number. Any player who successfully guesses the total number of fingers revealed by all players combined scores a point.”

Now for what Wikipedia failed to mention: The way we played, anyway, the winner shoves his victorious fingers right up to the loser's eyeballs.

The winner roars with laughter, the loser groans in anger, and then both go have a beer together.

No wonder it's amusing to me when professional players are mad at opponents who celebrate after scoring touchdowns or hitting home runs at their expense.

This week the NFL — long the No Fun League — injected a little fun into the game.

Some fans and league personnel believe it's about time, and others believe it shouldn't have happened.

Fuddy-duddy Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is quoted as saying, “I'm not for (the change) at all … that's not a very good example for young people.”

The Lewis camp characterizes celebrations as bad sportsmanship and as featuring the individual over the team, fearing the behavior will trickle down to the lower levels.

Yes, it could, but those are kids and these are grown men competing for a lot of money, a distinction that young athletes should learn.

If parents get that message across, they can celebrate by spiking their clipboards.

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