Shortly after Veterans Day, Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker paid tribute to America's service men and woman after scoring a touchdown in Denver's win over Kansas City on Sunday. Unfortunately for him, it cost his team.
After pulling in a 56-yard touchdown reception (WATCH video of the touchdown below), Decker got on one knee and performed a salute to the troops. He was subsequently flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. It turns out that by getting on one knee, Decker violated the NFL's excessive celebration policy which dictates players cannot go to the ground while celebrating.
As Chris Chase of Shutdown Corner points out, the NFL's celebration policy seems inconsistent:
Legal in the NFL: Scoring a touchdown and then running 100 yards down the sideline to give the ball to your girlfriend who's a cheerleader for the opposing team.
Not legal in the NFL: Scoring a touchdown and saluting the troops on Veterans Day weekend.
Chase is referring to the touchdown scored by David Nelson of the Buffalo Bills against Dallas, after which he ran down the sideline to deliver the ball to his girlfriend, who is a Cowboys cheerleader.
The NFL has come under fire in recent years for doling out excessive fines for what on the surface appear to be minor infractions. One such case occurred last week, when Earl Bennett of the Bears was fined $5,000 by the league for sporting orange shoes during a game. Earlier this season, many also questioned the league's judgement after Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was fined $10,000 for using a cell phone on the sidelines during a game to call his wife to let her know he was OK after he suffered a concussion.
While the league's bylaws may seem Draconian to some, the players are aware of the NFL's penchant for enforcing them whenever possible. They should not be surprised when the NFL goes straight by the book as opposed to considering the context of the actions -- even if they take place on Veterans Weekend. It looks like for Decker, this was a lesson learned the hard way.