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Head of referees association wants NFL to make changes to celebration rules

(Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

It appears that NFL players and fans are not the only ones tired of the league’s strict anti-celebration rules. Now you can add NFL referees to the list of people who are tired of dealing with the “No Fun League.”

In an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, the head of the NFL Referees Association, Scott Green, said that not even officials enjoy throwing flags for excessive celebration and added the league is putting the referees in a bad position.

“Nothing is worse than someone going 80 yards for a touchdown, and then we’re trying to figure out does that warrant a flag for what he’s doing in the end zone.

“We don’t really enjoy that. If we could get to a point where it would simply be fines by the league, that would be great. The issue we’ll still have is that guys can get pretty creative out there. The question of whether it’s a foul or not a foul, hopefully we’ll get closer to more of a black-and-white situation.”

Green expressed similar sentiments during Super Bowl week, shortly after being named head of the NFLRA.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said following the 2017 owners meeting in Phoenix last month that he was confident the league would have a change in policy before the 2017 season kicked off.

“I’d like to meet with a group of players to try to get more input from them,” Goodell said. “We also wanted to do a little more work on just bringing clarity to the rule while allowing players more ability to express themselves and celebrate. We want to see that. We obviously want to put (in) any reasonable safeguards against taunting and acts that we think reflect poorly on all of us.”

Initial indications were that the league would not change any rules but instead give referees more flexibility when determining whether celebrations violated pre-existing unsportsmanlike conduct rules.

Last season, there were 34 penalties that were specifically called “taunting.” That was up from 22 in 2015 and way up from just five years ago when there were a total of 9 called during the entire 2012 season.

The NFL’s Competition Committee has been discussing making a change to the rule for months. However, the NFL announced Friday that Dean Blandino, who has been the league’s vice president of officiating since 2013, is stepping down, which could delay any decisions on rule changes.

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