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Seahawks Golden Tate sending the wrong message

The NFL could learn from the NCAA's rules on taunting
10/29/2013 5:53 PM ET
By Doug Williams

Golden Tate deserves criticism for his unsportsmanlike touchdown catch and run.(AP)

There's celebrating a touchdown and then there's rubbing it in somebody's face. Golden Tate doesn't seem to know the difference.

 

In the second quarter of last night's Monday Night Football game between the Seahawks and the Rams, Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate caught a touchdown pass from Russell Wilson. But instead of his catch being the headline (and it was a great catch), today we are talking about his celebration from the 35-yard line to the end zone.

Tate sarcastically and immaturely waved at safety Rodney McLeod as he was still thirty yards away from scoring. In fact, McLeod caught up to Tate (who was slowed by his own hand motions) and tackled him in the end zone. Tate's actions cost his team 15 yards on the kickoff for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and, in the end, probably cost Tate a congratulations and a handshake from some of his teammates.

I can't sit here and pretend I hate celebrations, especially after I applauded Yasiel Puig and, I'll admit, I do some salsa in my living room on Sunday's after Victor Cruz scores touchdowns. But if you're wondering what the difference is between Cruz and Tate, just ask the opposing teams.

Cruz's celebration is a tribute to his grandmother, and is done after he has already scored a touchdown. It isn't directed at the opponent, and his success on the field has allowed for it to be tolerated.

But the only thing a celebration like Tate's can do is leave a sour taste in everybody's mouth. Tate took what WAS an impressive touchdown catch and tainted it with his own stupidity. And, because he ended up falling on his butt in the end zone, he didn't even end up looking cool! And scoring an NFL touchdown is about as "cool" as it gets.

The NCAA has a rule that negates touchdowns when a player taunts before the end zone. For the most part, it is in place to teach young players the right way to do things BEFORE they venture into pro sports. But some, Like Tate, don't learn their lesson.

My question is, why not implement that rule in the NFL? Touchdown celebrations would remain untouched, but the NFL would be doing whatever it could to make people like Tate feel as silly as possible. Instead of some penalty enforced on the kickoff, let the skill position players bask in their mistake. Remind them that as an NFL player, you have a responsibility to set an example for Pop Warner players all over the country. And that to score a touchdown in the NFL, you must do so with effort and hard work.

The problem is that in the long run, Tate won't be affected by his stupidity. Neither will his team, his offense, nor his fantasy owners. While we are talking about the penalty now, we won't be in two weeks. Sometimes, to make something count for an athlete (especially a wide receiver), you have to hit them where it hurts -- on their stat line.

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