Count Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt among the many NFL players who became perturbed upon learning that the National Football League intends to crack down on excessive celebrations during the upcoming season by way of referees assessing a 15-yard penalty for any such infractions.
Watt believed that his trademark military salute following sacks would fall under the stricter enforcement of policies that have been in the NFL rulebook since the beginning of the 2012 season. And that caused some frustration for the sack-master.
Mark Berman of Houston’s FOX26 has been all over the story, reporting that Watt originally was upset that his celebratory military salute may result in a penalty, and quoted the Texans defensive standout as saying the following via his Twitter account:
“I do my salute as a sign of respect and appreciation for the military and I think it’s kind of a bad deal they’re going to take away something that I’m trying to show respect to the people who protect this country and freedom to the game and who allow us to play this game. If it wasn’t for the men and women overseas protecting us I wouldn’t be able to play football. The NFL gives us gloves that say salute the service I can’t even salute to the service because they don’t let me. Something needs to be done about that. I think it’s a bad deal. I don’t have a plan yet. I’m prepared to pay some fines if I need to because I’m not going to stop respecting our military.”
But au contraire, Mr. Watt. Berman subsequently reported that since Watt’s celebration isn’t directed at opponents but fans instead, Watt should be able to continue doing his military salute without fear of a taunting penalty:
The NFL says military salutes r a violation only if directed at opponent.J.J. Watt faces the fans w/his salute&that should not b a violation
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) August 7, 2013
So, all’s well that ends well, I guess. And given that Watt has amassed 26 sacks in his first two seasons in the NFL, highlighted by 20.5 quarterback takedowns in 2012, Watt should have plenty opportunities to do his patented military salute without fear of retribution.
[H/T SB Nation]