Rich McKay admits to being one of the main proponents of the NFL’s more rigid approach to enforcing rules meant to curb player celebrations.
The Atlanta Falcons president and chairman of the NFL Competition Committee has since joined a collective change of heart, and was a major part of the league’s recent decision to give players more leeway when it comes to celebrating.
‘Initially, the rule was kind of as it is going to be this year’
Why? Because, as McKay pointed out to Bruce Murray and Mark Dominik on the SiriusXM Blitz, that’s what players want and what many fans enjoy. He admitted the league had gone too far with its restrictions.
“Initially, the rule was kind of as it is going to be this year,” McKay said. “It was, ‘Hey, there’s a general thing that says you can’t be excessive, you can’t be prolonged, you certainly can’t do anything that’s violent, you can’t do anything that’s sexually suggestive.’ That language has kind of been there a long time, but then we got specific as certain players got more than creative in what they were doing. And there ended up being a prohibition about going to the ground, there ended up being a prohibition against props, there ended up being a prohibition against (using) the ball as a prop.
‘Let’s roll back a little bit and give the players a little more flexibility’
“And I think what we’re doing is saying, ‘You know what? Let’s roll back a little bit and give players a little more flexibility and let the entertainment value be what it is. But let’s make sure we are then quickly looking at, when things go on, what is permissible and what isn’t permissible and then showing players, by video, what those plays are.’ As opposed to what we’ve done in the past — which I take a little blame for — which is, ‘OK, let’s just go with a black-and-white rule and say you can’t do this or this or that.’ You’re letting creativity back in. I think you’re going to see some things that will truly be entertaining that the fans want. I think you’ll see some other things that maybe we’ll have to say, ‘No, that’s not appropriate, but we’ll see.'”
The adjustment in the approach to celebration-rules enforcement would never have happened without NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, being as proactive as they were.
‘The Commissioner met (with) or talked to 80 different players on this topic’
“They listened to the players, the players were big advocates of this,” McKay said. “They brought it to us as a committee, and the Commissioner met (with) or talked to 80 different players on this topic. We’ll open it up some and then we’ll definitely have some video to try to show players, ‘This is what crosses the line and this is what doesn’t cross the line.'”
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