A lot of good came from Sunday Night Football when Ezekiel Elliott jumped into a Salvation Army kettle upon scoring a touchdown. It was something that nobody saw coming, yet brought so much joy to everyone watching it when it happened.
Elliott was not flagged on the play for the celebration, despite using the kettle as a prop, which is grounds for a penalty in the NFL’s rulebook. After the game, Elliott indicated that he would not be fined for jumping into the kettle, adding that he would make a donation to the Salvation Army.
That moment also led to a spike in donations, which is never a bad thing.
Many would agree that Elliott should not have been penalized or fined, and feel that way about many celebrations in general. But based on what this one involved, those feelings were stronger.
Players around the league, however, have not been happy as a result. Not because they don’t want to see Elliott have fun or celebrate or help out a good cause, but because the NFL has very arbitrary standards.
Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell tweeted about his unhappiness for getting fined for a handshake alongside Antonio Brown. Their teammate James Harrison offered up a sarcastic solution as to how to avoid a fine next time around.
Next time y'all wanna shake hands just make sure you jump in a Salvation Army pot first & u should be ok! https://t.co/j92c5Xwnxi— James Harrison (@jharrison9292) December 20, 2016
Odell Beckham Jr. also felt that there was an arbitrary standard when it came to that particular celebration, saying that he felt he wouldn’t have been as fortunate as Elliott.
That's funny there's no fine for that. I could only imagine if I was the one to do it. Just bein honest .— Odell Beckham Jr (@OBJ_3) December 19, 2016
Beckham has received his fair share of fines this season. Once, he took his helmet off after scoring a touchdown to put the Giants ahead of the Ravens, and another, he pretended to film Victor Cruz salsa dancing.
Overall, players have gotten in trouble for doing a lot less this season. Allen Robinson got one for spinning the football, Terrelle Pryor paid homage to LeBron James, and Josh Norman shot a pretend bow and arrow.
might be is time for the NFL to reconsider what is actually worth a flag and a fine, and what isn’t. Nobody’s trying to say that Elliott should have been penalized and fined, but the NFL shouldn’t be taking money out of players’ pockets on the fly.