These days, the NFL players call it the "No Fun League" because it's a 15-yard penalty if you celebrate a touchdown or a great play too much. But things were getting a little extreme, like a guy planting a cell phone in the goalpost so he could do his act if he scored, so I have some sympathy for the league trying to put it all in perspective. It's not like V-J Day or anything.
But I hate the Instant Replay rule, where the officials take a couple minutes to review the TV replays in order to certify their decisions, and here's why:
Several years back, the Eagles were in the playoffs. It was about 10 AM Pacific, when the games from the east coast start out here. I was still lazing in bed, as is the only civilized custom for a Sunday morning, but I'd ordered the help to bring me breakfast early as I wanted to catch the game.
The Redskins took the opening kickoff and proceeded to march decisively downfield. Around the Eagles' 15-yard line, they fumbled, and an Eagle defender scooped up the football and ran it back 85 yards. The official trailing the play, his two arms so beautifully extended toward the heavens, signaled touchdown, Birds. From impending disaster to triumph in the space of ten seconds. It doesn't get any better than that in sports.
I threw the breakfast tray off my lap, leaped out of my quite warm and comfy bed, and did the finest shimmy you ever saw since your sister Kate's.
Then the words of doom from the TV filtered into my fevered mind---"The play is under review." I didn't see what I just saw. I unfelt what I just felt.
Of course, the touchdown was taken away. The official with his arms upraised was wrong---the Redskins runner was "down by contact" before the fumble. So instead, it was first and ten deep in Eagles territory, Redskins. The 'Skins scored a TD, the Birds lost, and that was that. I haven't felt the same about anything I've seen in an NFL game since. You always have to wait for the other shoe to drop, and even when it doesn't, there's still either an uneasiness or a downright emptiness.
So when the Eagles saved the game with an interception in the end zone with 7 seconds left on Monday Night Football this week, I felt nothing. My brain permitted my face a smile, but put my heart on hold. They took all the fun away.
The play was reviewed, as is the rule, and yes, two minutes later when it finally passed replay muster and the feet were adjudged inbounds, the NFL allowed me to feel and perhaps even celebrate. The Eagles had won. But I didn't dance, let alone shimmy. Yay, I said, with as much enthusiasm I could.