The NFL has fined its players more than a quarter of a million dollars for excessive celebration penalties this year

The league has issued 20 excessive celebration penalties that have cost players a grand total of $252,195 in 2016, according to Spotrac’s numbers.
3 min. read
Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) heads up the sidelines on a 45 yard reception during first quarter action against the Oakland Raiders in the NFL game at O.Co Coliseum in Oakland,CA October 11, 2015. (Photo: © Eric Lars Bakke/ Denver Broncos)

Do you want to see what throwing away $12,154 looks like?

The inane act that cost Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders north of 12 grand occurred in the fourth quarter of the Broncos’ loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. With 9:58 remaining, Sanders hauled in a short pass from Trevor Siemian. It was an enormous play — Denver’s first score of the afternoon that made it a six-point game.

Sanders' act seemed harmless. Go out in LoDo any Friday night during the summer and you'll see drunk 20-somethings do infinitely more destructive things they don't get fined for. But the ever-tone-deaf NFL has cracked down on players' celebrations this year.

The league has issued 20 excessive celebration penalties that have cost players a grand total of $252,195 in 2016, according to Spotrac's numbers. That's insane. More than a quarter of a million dollars on excessive celebration penalties.

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has already racked up three excessive celebration fines in 2016. In Week 1, the league docked him $9,115 for twerking after burning the Redskins' secondary for six.

Then in Week 4, the league slapped Brown with a $24,309 fine for hitting a Von Miller-esque pelvic thrust.

“Nothing to a boss,” Brown told ESPN about his Week 1 fine. 

I respect Brown's DGAF attitude, but shouldn't this cost him nothing at all? Professional football is the closest thing we have to a modern-day gladiator sport. These guys are ruining their bodies on a weekly basis. Why is the league discouraging showmanship?

All this seems so harmless compared to all the other stuff — like repeated blows to the head that ruin many players' lives down the road — that happens in football. 

Players like Sanders, Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. are essentially doing the football equivalent of Maximus' "Are you not entertained?" act, and the league is taking money out of their pockets under the guise of but think of the children.

“There are many, many kids out there that are N.F.L. fans, who are playing football and they see our athletes and they mimic what they do,” Dean Blandino, the N.F.L.’s senior vice president for officiating, told The New York Times earlier this year.

It seems like if the NFL had its way, players would never open their mouths, never express themselves, never show human emotion — all they'd do is block and tackle and catch and throw and collect their paychecks quietly. Sort of like this...

Andrew Hawkins' muted celebration was an intentional shot at the NFL's draconian rules.

“Everything you do gets fined nowadays, right?” Hawkins told “Me seeing the tape of what not to do — and I get it, rules are rules — but I thought it would be funny to do that and troll the whole situation, so that’s what I did.”

But part of me wonders if this is, to some extent, what Roger Goodell and the league wants from its players: To break their bodies week after week, and be quiet while they're doing it.

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