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No dancing, salutes or spinning ball: NFL cracks down on celebrating

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

The NFL is cracking down on ball-spinning celebrations in 2013.
The NFL is cracking down on ball-spinning celebrations in 2013. (USATSI)

Steve Smith hasn't really lost a step at the age of 34 -- and he'll tell you as much -- but he might have to figure out a new celebration this season. That's because the NFL will apparently emphasize cracking down against spinning the ball and a number of other player celebrations.

Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk first pieced together the fact that multiple officials around the league are informing players that spinning the ball in celebration next year could result in a 15-yard penalty.

It's not necessarily a new rule per se, however: "throwing or shoving the ball" already fell under unsportsmanlike penalties in 2012.

Additionally, an NFL spokesperson told Deadspin.com that the league doesn't intend to penalize players who spin the ball in celebration after a touchdown, only on the actual field of play.

Unfortunately for a player like the Panthers' Smith, it's kind of his signature move. He said he'd be willing to make a change or "alter' his spin to comply with the rules however.

“We're working it out,” said Smith said when asked about how he'd handle the change.

There will be LOTS of outrage over the NFL cracking down on players engaging in these sorts of celebrationsl. Some of it is justified: spinning the ball is a cool celebration, requires some skill and is relatively harmless. Spinning the ball -- or spiking it, throwing it, shoving it and pointing it -- is not like making a throat-slashing gesture, which seems forbidden for good reason.

But as long as the league is fine with players spinning after a touchdown, I've got no problem with this, frankly. We don't need someone spinning the ball every single time they pick up a first down. Save the celebrations for the end zone.

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