Former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders set the gold standard for behaving in the end zone like you had been there before. Sanders celebrations were notable for one reason; he didn’t do them. He would walk to the nearest referee and simply hand him the ball. As much as he made people look foolish on the field during the play, he never felt a need to showboat after he cross the goal line. Superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson approaches it a little differently and the NFL decided this offseason that Johnson’s tradition of “dunking” the football over the goalpost was be penalized. Johnson apparently will have the last laugh as he seems to have found a way around the rule.
The NFL isn’t necessarily punishing Johnson by stopping the practice of dunking the football; the reason for disallowing it is solid. Last season New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham dunked after scoring a 44 yard touchdown and bent the goalpost causing a delay in the game while it was repaired.
To his credit, Johnson analyzed the rule and a loophole though. As long as he doesn’t touch the goalpost at all, he can still dunk, and he intends to do just that. The NFL is notorious for taking the joy out of the league causing fans to dub it the “no fun league” mockingly. Johnson is one of the leagues greatest players and all around a class act with a hard work ethic and no off field issues to speak of. He’s the type of player the league should be and is proud of. So, maybe he takes it a little farther than the old days of Barry Sanders, but there’s nothing offensive about Johnson’s way of celebrating and it’s great that he found a way to continue enjoying himself on the field. Let us not forget that football is game, Johnson obviously hasn’t.