Oh Those Diva Wide Receivers…

December 7, 2011

Political Theory, Uncategorized


Some of the NFL celebrations and NFL player comments are absurd. From Joe Horn’s cell phone celebration to the ridiculous number of NFL player twitter posts, there are ridiculous demonstrations by NFL players weekly. Somehow, almost all of these clowns are wide receivers. These wide receiver divas in the NFL are obnoxious. They take away from the game. Their comics are meant for the stage not the gridiron…Oh wait. I love them.

Over the last couple of weeks, there have been many reactions to the touchdown celebration of Buffalo Bill Stevie Johnson. For those of you who did not see his celebration, Johnson mocked New York Jets receiver Plaxico Burress (Michigan State) by pretending to shoot himself in the leg after scoring a touchdown. Burress spent 2 years in prison after shooting himself in the leg with an unregistered gun while at a nightclub in New York. Not only did Johnson pretend to shoot himself in the leg while celebrating, but he also imitated the signature New York Jet flying celebration before crashing to the ground. His antics resulted in a 15 yard penalty for excessive celebration. The field position due in part to the penalty helped lead to a New York Jets touchdown.

Many columnists and talking heads have been calling for a fine, suspension, or even the dismissal of Stevie Johnson from his team. He was just recently fined $10,000 for the celebration by the NFL and people continue to complain about his actions. Many believe that this fine was not enough of a punishment. Several players have stated that Johnson offended the city of New York with his actions, claiming that he was replicating or at least being very insensitive to the events of 9/11. After reading all of the angry responses, I wanted to see what Plaxico Burress himself had to say about the celebration. Overall, he didn’t seem overly upset by it. In fact, he claimed that Johnson called him to apologize and told him that he did not realize people would take his actions to be this offensive.

Reading all of the coverage over an endzone celebration, I became disgusted by the people who want Johnson’s head. Lighten up! He was just trying to have some fun! I personally found the touchdown celebration to be hilarious. Maybe it’s because I am New England Patriots fan, but watching the game, I couldn’t stop laughing as Johnson fell to the turf as a fallen Jet. Yes, his celebration was dumb in terms of helping his team win the game, but in regards to morality, why was it so wrong? Why can’t we joke? No, he wasn’t pretending to crash into the Twin Towers. No, he wasn’t trying to pick a fight with Plaxico. No, he didn’t want to anger the media. He just wanted to give people a laugh like other receivers do. He wanted his share of attention. He wanted to make fun of someone for a really stupid act. Why was it wrong for him to do this? Though I am a diehard New England Patriot’s and Michigan Wolverine fan, I would find a receiver mocking Tom Brady’s scooter ride, shaved armpits, Brazilian dance moves or water slide ride to be extremely funny. Yes, making fun of Plaxico shooting himself is more serious than this, but it shouldn’t be taken as offensive.

Wide receiver’s bring comedy to the game. Chad Ochocinco’s tweets regarding touchdowns and sex are funny, not offensive. Terrell Owen’s “get your popcorn ready” motto made people laugh. These guys are, in fact, entertainment. They are fun. It is true that some receivers wear out their comedian act (yes, you T.O.), but these guys make the game more interesting. You can’t say that you haven’t laughed or smiled at some of the wide receiver antics.

The many fans or media outlets who constantly rag on this new brand of receiver look at them from a very conservative perspective. These receivers are radical. They are new and very different. We can think of them as disruptions to the previously conservative nature of football. They are, in my opinion, welcome disruptions. Football has never before seen this magnitude of media coverage or fanbase before. Yes, in watching the NFL of old, seeing players such as Barry Sanders hand the ball off to the referee immediately after scoring a touchdown comes across as very respectful. However, there was no personality in these actions. Similarly, we are bored by players today such as Jay Cutler or coaches such a Bill Belichick who seem to be robots on the football field. Isn’t it fun to see some guys step out of this role?

Conservatives believe that radical change from the past is problematic and that tradition is valuable. I take what the critics of diva receivers say to be conservative thought. I agree that tradition is valuable, but can we also embrace some change? This is a new age of football and these guys are making changes to the game. In their own way, they are giving back to the game. According to Rawls’s liberty principle, these receivers may act as they wish as long as it doesn’t violate someone else’s rights. Are they, in fact violating other peoples’ rights with their antics? I don’t believe so. In my opinion, the collective goal of these diva wide receivers is to have fun and increase peoples’ joy in football. They strive to entertain their fans. Based on Rawl’s argument of equality and liberty, it is irrational and wrong to prevent wide receivers from pursuing this goal of theirs. So, why do people insist on preventing them from having fun? Let the kids play.

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9 Comments on “Oh Those Diva Wide Receivers…”

  1. mrau188 Says:

    I believe that tradition is one of the most important things to life because it keeps everyone in check. Change however is good but radical change is not the best option for the greater good of what you are trying to change. Lets look back to obamas stimulus plan back in 2009 and what it did for the United States economy. He basically just printed 900 billion dollars and then handed it out to americans to be spent on everyday items to bulk up the amount of retail being sold throughout the country. Did it really change anything long term? No because everyone spent the money and then were in the same situation that they were in before they had the money, pinching every penny before they spend it because they are worried the money supply could run out at any time with millions of americans out of work. By changing rules however we are not violating peoples personal rights because when you think about it, you are not doing anything that is permanently harmful to the individuals of the countries. However if there was an extreme case there would be a big problem when human’s personal freedoms were being seized by the government’s new laws. They are trying to uphold the image of the game and need to continue to make the NFL a spectator sport. I do believe that they should allow some sort of celebration it cannot just be in bad taste or offensive to other people.

  2. Austin Telling Says:

    I also enjoy their antics, I think it adds extra entertainment to the game. I don’t think, however, that Rawls’ liberty principle applies to this situation. The NFL is a private organization, and Rawls mainly focused on the actions of government rather than private institutions.

    It would be different if it were the U.S government fining and suspending NFL players for excessive celebrations, but the NFL can do whatever it wants in order to protect the brand of their product and improve their business.

  3. weinben Says:

    Critics of the game often forget that at its core, professional football is not simply a game. It is a competition and a business where success on the field is essential for the team, the city, and the fans. What we witness on the field are athletic feats so spectacular that we stand in awe of these superhumans and put them on a pedestal so we can all gaze up in admiration. And the players themselves understand this and the quality of their feats. Thus, when a wideout gets a touchdown, he must feel pride and jubilation that not only has he succeeded by merit of his skills, but he has helped his team out, too. Now doesn’t that warrant some kind of celebration? Sports without attitude, without bravado, are more boring than sports where the players play with swagger. The athletes compete with one another for money, fame, and respect, and when they succeed in the face of others and show their dominance, they want the world to see that, too. Now, obviously, some celebrations are going to be considered foul by measure of modern societal standards of what constitutes good and poor taste. Mockery of the opponent is usually viewed in bad taste because not only does it puts the opposition in a negative light but it reveals a certain insecurity in the players doing the mockery because it shows he has to put others down to pull himself up. And in this way, the NFL reserves the right to administer and levy fines on players whose actions might negatively impact the image of the league.

  4. wjpetok24 Says:

    The attitudes of Wide Receivers in the NFL has certainly changed over the past few decades. While they are now characterized as reckless, taunting, divas, in the past they were one of the most respected positions in football. They solidified the team by providing essential blocking and timely catches that usually made the big play in decisive games.

    In contemporary times, the position still remains important, but now cast under a shadow of players who have brought embarrassment to the game according to some critics such as Terell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. While I am mostly indifferent to their actions on the field, I do have a problem with off the field antics. If a player jeopardizes his team by acting inappropriately off the field, similar to the Plaxico Burress situation, then they should be penalized and reprimanded. Stevie Johnson, the player who taunted Burress, also showed a tremendous lack of character and judgment, and though his celebration was the subject of viral media attention and scrutiny, I believe his actions not to be solely representative of the entire position.

    Overall, the actions of a few have at times misrepresented the character of a strong position in football. Though much evidence displays their diva-like persona, there are still many WR’s who represent the game with true honor and respect. Thus, it isn’t surprising the conservative movement to censor the players, but nevertheless should be reevaluated to witness those who are going about their job in a professional and appropriate way.

  5. zschmitt17 Says:

    I have heard many debates on Johnson’s touchdown celebration. After hearing all that they have to say I was convinced that it was not smart on his part. I believe that he had every right to do it and deserved the penalty and fine, but nothing beyond that should be given to him. He was just having fun and didn’t intend to attack anyone.

    The reason I do not think that it was smart is because he is not yet a top receiver in the league. People like T.O. and Ochocinco were top performers in the league for years and directly helped their respective teams win games. Johnson is still a young player and actually lost the game for his team later. He dropped an easy catch which would have resulted in a touchdown. You can’t celebrate like that and then come up short. If he refines his game and becomes a top receiver then I hope to see more celebrations like this from him because it simply makes the game more enjoyable for the fans. Excessive celebration should be mandatory. If you do not have a dance routine already planned out then I am going to dock them points.

  6. evanhw Says:

    Let’s be honest. There have been countless celebrations throughout the history of the NFL that have caused a similar distaste that Stevie Johnson provoked a couple weeks ago. I personally witnessed TO whip out a sharpie and sign a football after scoring a touchdown in San Francisco and have seen an general increase in controversial celebrations over the last 5-10 years. Although Stevie Johnson’s celebration was fairly provocative, poking fun at a sensitive subject for those poor old Jets fans, I still don’t think any touchdown celebration can be taken seriously. These guys are willing to do whatever it takes to get underneath the opposing team’s skin. The NFL obviously is aware of the issue, and has certain restrictions already in place. A celebration is a celebration, he’s earned the right to make a gesture in front of the world and is hold accountable in that way. If he wants to be known for making obscene gestures throughout his career, let him be disrespected. There is only a certain amount of power the league can impose on it’s players, and considering the amount of unfair fines the players get for hits, conduct, etc… I don’t see there being any changes made in this area. Rawl probably would have accepted Stevie Johnson’s celebration for what it was worth and found it moderately humorous. Sorry wjpetok24, I have to disagree.

  7. benjishanus Says:

    Like the author, I too am a big fan of creative touchdown celebrations in general. HOWEVER, what Stevie Johnson did was beyond creative. It was personal, and in my opinion, completely crossed the line. There is a huge difference between “letting the kids play and having fun on the field” and essentially provoking a very personal attack on another HUMAN BEING. Regardless of whether Plaxico Burress took the Stevie Johnson celebration to heart or not, Stevie Johnson was still completely out of line. His actions were 100% incentive.

    Being a huge Giants fan, I used to love Plaxico Burress (despite his MSU affiliation). However, currently, I hate him. In my mind, through his extremely poor judgment in relation to his firearm incident, he costed the Giants a very legitimate chance of repeating as Super Bowl champions (they had the best record in football before his incident and then suffered without him). Not to mention, I think he made very unprofessional, disrespectful, and frankly ridiculous comments in regards to Eli Manning, Tom Coughlin, and the Giants organization as whole. To add salt to the wounds, he then went on to sign with their in state rivals, the hated New York Jets. My point is that I am not biased in defending Plaxico Burress, as I’m no longer a fan of his to say the least. However, there is no doubt in my mind that what Stevie Johnson did was completely uncalled for and incentive. I also agree that his penalty of a 10K fine was not nearly enough.

    Do touchdown celebrations add to the excitement and overall entertainment of football? Yes, but they should never come anywhere near reaching a personal level, the way Stevie Johnson did. He shamed his teammates, organization, family, and most importantly, himself. I’m pretty confident that if Stevie Johnson had been the one in prison and someone else was making extremely pubic, personal attacks towards him, he would’t find it quite as funny.

  8. Patrick Biondi Says:

    I think that touchdown celebrations add an excitement to the game and I am a sucker for a good celebration. I think people need to calm down a realize that professional sports are an entertainment business and the athletes are entertainers. If there were not fighting in hockey, crashes in NASCAR, bench clearing brawls in baseball or touchdown celebrations in football, people would get bored of the same old thing. These things add an excitement to the game and sell tickets. Sports are a business and without ticket sales there would be no sports.

    Some players have received endorsements from large companies and gotten TV shows because of their touchdown celebrations and their antics. Look at Aaron Rodgers, he flashes the belt every time he scores and now he has an endorsement from State Farm. T.O and Chad Ochocinco got their own reality shows. These players are in the business of making money, whether we want to believe it or not.

    Yes sometimes people, like Johnson, can cross the line but I don’t think they are trying pick fight with other players or reference 9/11.

  9. zrobbins24 Says:

    Celebrations, in general, are supposed to joyous. They can come about when one does something good. In football, these celebrations can come when a defender records a sack on the quarterback, a rusher breaks a few tackles and gets a first down, and, most of all, when a receiver scores a touchdown. Touchdown celebrations occur after every touchdown. They range from the extremely subtle, such as handing the ball to the ref and hugging teammates, to an emphatic spike or a dunk over the field goal post to a premeditated dance or skit. The NFL has cracked down on excessive celebrations, which mostly occur after a touchdown, over the past few years. This move has been detrimental to the enjoyment and flare of the game, especially to the casual fan who does not care or have as much at stake as a diehard fan.

    Personally, I enjoy watching these celebrations, but there is a line where funny and joyful meets insensitive and hurtful. I am an avid Patriots fan and I believe that Johnson’s touchdown antics were excessive and hurtful to Plaxico Burress. Even though Burress took the high road and said that the dance did not bother him, I believe it did. In my opinion, Plaxico only said the things that he said after the game in order to end the story, get out of the spotlight, and forget about the past. Also, I am baffled by the fact that players want to draw attention to themselves during the game by celebrating, but then after the game during the postgame press conference and interviews, they take the spotlight off of themselves. They always say it was a team effort and nothing could have been accomplished without their teammates, yet only an hour ago, the player was dancing in the corner of the end zone drawing all of the attention to himself.

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