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Tanks take week of 12/21/03


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Lets Dance

The question of when does a Touchdown celebration cross the line rose again this week as New Orleans Saints WR Joe Horn reached out and touched his family with a cell phone he had hidden under the goal post padding in the Superdome.

The cellularbration ended up being the most expensive phone bill that Joe Horn ever received as he was fined $30,000. However, with the notoriety he received in not just sports highlights shows but all over the news on a late night talk shows turned him into a household name and turned a relatively obscure WR, known only by hardcore football fans, into the guy who made the phone call in the endzone.

The endzone incident also resulted in a 15-yard penalty, and that had the potential of hurting his team. Had the selfish act by Joe Horn hurt his team chances are nobody in New Orleans would be laughing.

However since it did not hurt his team, and resulted in a fine he will be only to happy to pay, Joe Horn will not have learned his lesson as he spent the entire week being the NFL's answer to the Sprint Trench coat pitchman, or the Verizon worker going all over the world saying "Can you hear me now?"

In the end that's all this was about for Joe Horn who has been one of the most underrated WR in the league as is just 66 yards away from his 4th straight 1,000 yard receiving season. It was his way of asking all football fans "Can you hear me now?" However, instead of fans recognizing his achievements they will just know him as the guy who made a phone call in the endzone, and looked like a jackass doing it. So maybe it did make him a household name, but fame is not everything.

Sadly Joe Horn's celebration with the cell-phone might just be a continuing trend started by Terrell Owens and his sharpie last season. After scoring a TD on Monday Night Owens took a marker out of his uniform pants and signed the football he just scored a TD on for his manager sitting in the stands.  

The reaction to Owens was a much the same as the reaction to Horn this week. However it also resulted in Owens getting some endorsements from Sharpie, in print ads. Such endorsements more then make up for any fine the NFL could enforce, and if Joe Horn is to get a commercial out of this then the NFL could have a real problem on their hands. Because if acting like a fool leads to endorsements and then it becomes a situation where the players are almost encouraged to do more outrageous things. What the NFL might have to do is enforce a rule that prevents players from making endorsement money off their bad behavior both on and off the field.

Of course this latest celebration has brought up the debate about what type of post play celebrations the NFL should allow, and could possibly lead to stronger rules against any type of celebration. That is where the NFL needs to be careful. It has to walk a fine line between allowing natural enthusiasm and over abundance.

So outlawing all post Touchdown celebrations will not be the answer. Because there is nothing wrong with the Lambeau Leap, or certain touchdown dances. There is also nothing wrong when players express allot of joy and begin celebrating with other teammates. However, when it looks choreographed or goes on too long then limits must be made.

However, the NFL must be careful when making new rules not to take the fun out of the game. It cannot allow itself to mirror the Communist like NCAA and their so-called "Miami Rule" which bans all types of celebrations.

In College Football teams have been hit with costly 15-yard penalties simply for having their players mob a player who scored a big TD. That is natural exuberance it should not be suppressed. It is part of the passion of the game that makes these athletes so great and helps enable them to do amazing feats on the field.

Perhaps the NFL rule should be like this a endzone celebration dance should not last longer then 40 seconds, the normal play clock, as the kicking team comes on to the field to attempt the extra point.

Celebrating with the fans should not only be allowed it should encouraged. It is the fans game and for those sitting in the front row of Lambeau Field it makes them feel like part of the team when a Packer jumps in the front row. The NFL should eliminate its rule banning players from throwing the ball in the stands. Nobody is hurt by this act. The NFL is rich enough to have a million balls on the sidelines and if a player wants to throw a ball to a fan then the NFL should be happy as the fan who comes down with the football will have a valuable souvenir he will always cherish.

However, when a celebration begins to go overboard then the officials must step in. It should be easy for most to know when a celebration is not natural enthusiasm but choreography. Such multiplayer dances like the dirty bird or the bop and weave are the best example of this. If such choreography goes on one day we will see an entire team lock arms and begin doing the can-can after a TD and I don't think anybody wants to see that.

What the NFL must determine is when a celebration turns into taunting. Yes taunting that's the key word. If a team is celebrating just to celebrate an achievement then it is not a problem but when it turns to taunting then its is aimed at humiliating the opposing team, and that is when the problems start.

Obvious cases of taunting like waggling a finger or talking smack usually lead to penalties and fines, and the Owens and Horn incidents were just another case of taunting. By taking out a sharpie or a cell-phone you are essentially saying to your opponent that they are so easy to beat you can make a phone call, or sign autographs.

Which in the end is the only thing truly wrong with these celebrations. Because no damage was done to the league's reputation by the Joe Horn phone call, in fact most just laughed at it. So even the NFL should recognize even though it should encourage it, that incidents like this bring more attention to the league.

So banning all celebrations would be a big mistake. All that needs to be done is to make some common and sense rules to limit celebrations so it never goes overboard. After all Joe Horn did not hurt anybody other the New York Giants pride, and judging by their team's performance over the last 6 weeks they have no pride left.

In the end no need to fret over celebrations ruining the sport, in fact it is just another part of the game. Sure you will hate it when it happens to your team, but you will love it when your team does it.

Also what would the NFL be like without Deion Sanders high stepping down the sidelines, Billy "White Shoes" Johnson dancing in the endzone or the Ickey Shuffle?

So it is just another part of the game and that simply allows the players some amount of free expression. Which is not a bad thing at all. We all need a little spice in our life at times, and these celebrations are the spice of the NFL.

On a side note one type of celebration we can all do without is the personal celebration made in the middle of a blowout. After scoring a TD last week Atlanta Falcons RB T.J. Duckett did an endzone dance. Which would normally be fine. However, at the time Duckett scored a TD the Flacons were trailing the Indianapolis Colts 31-0, and his score simply was just a brief moment of success on a day of frustration for the Falcons.

When you celebrate with your team trailing in a blowout you come off as a selfish jackass, and it those celebrations that really annoy players more then anything. Duckett should consider himself lucky the Colts didn't try to knock him into next or his teammates allow it to happen.

The NFL censor police are on patrol again and coming after Detroit Lions President and GM Matt Millen for calling Kansas City Chiefs WR Johnnie Morton a " :censored:".

On the surface it looks as if Millen is going after one of his former players and embarrassing himself and his organization. True a team president should be able to have more self-control, and he does deserve some criticism.

However, Morton was the instigator and that has been woefully under reported. Matt Millen bumped into Morton after his game and tried to wish the former Lion good luck, but Morton told Millen to "kiss his ass". Which led to Millen's derogatory remark.

If this is the reason for Matt Millen's firing then the NFL has to address a serious problem developing around the loss of first amendment rights. Like Jeremy Shockey's comments directed at Bill Parcells, Millen's comments are a natural reaction of frustration, and not meant to bring into question Morton's sexual preferences. It is also part of the locker room culture and if we are to begin to enforce PC standard on locker room speech then the world of professional sports is in grave danger.

If Millen is to be fired this should not factor in to the equation at all. The fact that the Lions have lost a NFL record tying 23 straight road games heading into Sunday, and the fact they have won just 9 games over the last 3 years should be the only things that get him fired.

Hero of the Week: New York Giants Coach Jim Fassel the Giants are in the midst of a miserable season and it is obvious that Fassel should be fired. On Wednesday he was. However unlike Dan Reeves formerly of the Atlanta Falcons a week earlier, Fassel has agreed to stay on for the final 2 games of the season. Doing this makes Fassel look like the bigger person as he is not taking his dismissal personally and he is showing his team that you follow through to all you commitments. In the end it will help Fassel land another job quickly as it demonstrates his class, something missing in far too many people these days. The way Reeves stormed out of Atlanta after being told he was fired put the Falcons in an uncomfortable position of having an interim coach for the final 3 games.

Geek of the Week: Joe Horn for his cellularbration already discussed at length. Truthfully Joe Horn did make himself a household name but he looked awful stupid doing so.

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I agree with nearly all of that.

But in no way, shape, or form is calling someone a " :censored:" anything but a classless, cowardly act.

You have to understand that Matt Millen is a football guy, and when in that enviroment, in the locker room, with the guys, we all say things we wouldn't want heard out in the public, but we feel safe enough in there to just let lose and be nutty. What Matt Millen forgot was that he wasn't in a locker room, he was in a halway, in Public. And i don't have anything bad to say about Matt Millen, other than he's a bad GM. Johnnie Morton is the true culprit here. After being offered a congratulations on a good game, he makes profane remarks to the person offering him congratulations? (and what Morton said was alot worse than "Kiss my Ass")

I probrally would have reacted the same way as Millen did, letting that anger take over for that split second and blurting out something distasteful, but those biting words thrown at Johnnie Morton were deserved.

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" :censored:" is a slur. It should not be used in any case. He shouldn't be fired, but he should get a huge fine for it.

Word games are like referees in football: Whoever responds gets the flag.

Plus, Millen was probably being sarcastic. Text doesn't tell us that.

If Millen had responded "F--- off"  Or "See you in hell" or something along those lines, I would have no problem.  But a slur?  That's just wrong.

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Well it was two grown men getting into a verbal altercation. How about for once we leave it at that Millen appologised for his comments Morton hasn't.

For once can we not make a federal case out of this, Matt Millen should not be forced to go to sensativity training, which since South Park I always pitcure as a concentration camp   :D .

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Woa hold on there! Okay calling someone a :censored: isn't nice (then again it isnt designed to be!) But this kind of thing must go  on in workplaces and sports clubs all the time. If Millen loses his job it should be because he sucks at it, not because someone somewhere has something against him!
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I still don't understand how pulling out a Sharpie or cell phone is taunting (unless you're calling the other player's cell phone or signing his jersey :laugh:) Pointing at a player, talking smack to a player, or spiking the ball at a player is taunting. If you don't want a player to celebrate, don't let him score!
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