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DeAngelo Hall bemoans NFL’s status as the ‘No Fun League’

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The NFL’s purported crusade against expressions of individuality — whether it be through choreographed celebrations or customized cleats — has been a major talking point throughout the first half of the season. Count Washington Redskins safety DeAngelo Hall among those in the camp that bemoans the league’s dogged pursuit of living up to its unflattering “No Fun League” nickname.

“When I first came in this league, you could kind of be different,” Hall said during an appearance on ESPN, via The Washington Post. “You could do things. You could celebrate in the end zone. The [Terrell Owens] popcorn, signing balls, Joe Horn pulling out a cellphone. You could kind of do some of those things. But now, it’s definitely the no fun league.”

It’s so bad from Hall’s perspective, in fact, that the 32-year-old veteran is relieved he’s in the latter stages of his career. He also frames his criticism of the league through the lens of how NBA players are allowed to express themselves to a degree unheard of in the NFL.

“Guys want to come out there and have fun,” he said. “We are playing a game. I understand, everybody has bosses and we all have to kind of follow the rules. But this is a game, and we want to go out there, we want to have fun, we want to be entertaining. And it’s definitely different and frustrating when you see an NBA player be able to be himself and do sort of different things, and wear his socks a certain way, or wear different colored shoes. And you have us: shoes’ll cost you $5,000, socks not a certain height $5,000, face masks will get you thrown out the game until you change it. You know, it’s definitely tough. It’s frustrating, without a doubt.”

The NFL certainly is at a crossroads on many fronts, with the situation mainly manifesting in dwindling television ratings. While countless theories have been posited as to why viewership is down, the fact that the NFL insists on casting itself as a Big Brother-like entity that restricts individualism in its players cannot be underestimated as a contributing factor.