No Moore celebrations?

Kaylee Donnelly, Senior Writer

Week Eight in the NFL was filled with a mixture of celebration and upsets. One of the more exciting moments came in the last minute of the Panthers vs. Falcons game. With just 20 seconds left on the clock, Panthers quarterback PJ Walker connected on a 62-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DJ Moore. This touchdown tied the game at 34, and almost solidified the Panthers win after a long and hard fought game. 

Except it didn’t. 

Less than 15 seconds after Moore caught the touchdown, a flag was thrown. What for? An unsportsmanlike penalty due to excessive celebration. The penalty pushed the extra point kick into a 48-yard kick, which kicker Eddy Piñeiro subsequently missed. The Falcons ended up winning the game in overtime 37-34.

The penalty was called due to Moore taking off his helmet in celebration of the touchdown. Many have pointed out the lack of thought of Moore’s actions. Others point out that, even with the penalty, Piñeiro should have made that kick, no questions asked. 

But how bad was Moore’s celebration, really? 

The penalty exists for a good reason. Any threatening behavior, behavior intended to harm other players or obscene or offensive gestures is restricted and banned from celebrations well within reason. But taking off a helmet? Doing a dance in the endzone, performing a backflip, or doing a funny skit with teammates? That seems pretty fair game.

When it comes down to it, there’s no harm in letting players celebrate a bit and letting them have fun with the sport they’ve made their livelihood, especially after a game-winning touchdown pass. Both Moore and Walker arguably earned the right to celebrate.

This is to say that the penalty itself, although useful, lacks leeway regarding the context of the celebration and the game. Had Moore taken off his helmet and began using it against the Falcons defense, then yes. A penalty would not only be warranted, but necessary. Taking it off to express some joy should not be penalized. 

Anyone that preaches that Moore should have had more self control has arguably not been subjected to the full body adrenaline that comes with making a game winning play in competitive sports. As long as it is safe and non-threatening, what’s the problem with having a little fun?

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