Josh Norman's love of horses is well documented. I mean, he did ride into training camp one. Just four weeks into the season's, Norman has already had enough interceptions for touchdown returns to have trademarked the Pick-6 Giddy Up. After taking one to the house, Norman rides an imaginary horse, using the ball to represent the saddle horn. It's a tasteful celebration that has personal meaning. It's also a celebration that comes at a price.
This week, "the NFL fined Norman $8,681 for unsportsmanlike conduct after he rode an imaginary horse across the back of the end zone following his 46-yard interception return for a score in Carolina's 37-23 win at Tampa Bay." Current NFL rules prohibit using the ball as a prop in touchdown celebrations.
What constitutes as "using the ball as the prop" is ambiguous. The NFL's recent interpretation, however, has trended conservative. The prohibition of Jimmy Graham's trademark "field goal dunk" celebration is a perfect example. Nevertheless, some celebrations using the ball remain acceptable. Norman referenced this ambiguity, pointing to the Gronk Spike and Steve Smith's patented ball spin. Both celebrations, Norman implied, featured the ball, perhaps even more so than Norman's Pick-6 Giddy Up. i
Given the NFL's strict control of on-field player conduct, don't expect the league office to adjust their position on Norman's celebration. Hopefully they won't prohibit spiking or spinning either.
I still want to see Norman's Pick-6 Giddy Up though! Any time Norman rides Delta in that endzone, my life is filled with happiness, regardless of any fines or the Shield's image. Not only does the happiness outweigh the costs, I believe, the act also justifies the expense. Keep riding that horse Josh!
There must be a way to reconcile all this. It turns out it's pretty simple. The Panthers just need to pick up the tab. That's right, the team should pay the fine, and they should write it in the big fat contract they give him after this season.
Surely, the NFL couldn't allow for an NFL organization to be so admittedly insolent. Blatantly disregarding the rules; finding ways to walk the ethical tightrope; now that's too extreme. I mean, New England's serial cheating or the Falcons admitted need for artificial noise shows no organization will ever cross these sacred NFL ethical boundaries. There's got to be a way around this rigid ethical obligation of the NFL.
Yes! Carolina can pick up the check without blatantly kicking dirt on the Shield. We all know Panthers owner, Jerry Richardson, wouldn't ever do anything like that anyway. He'd never actively undermine NFL integrity.
What though if Carolina incentivized interception returns for touchdowns in Norman's contract instead? Every pick-six would be awarded with a growing monetary payment that accounts for any associated processing fees (NFL fines). Carolina wouldn't be paying the fine levied by the NFL. The Panthers would just be issuing a bonus payment that adjusts based on fluctuating market forces. It's capitalism.
So, Josh Norman. Climb up on Delta this Sunday. Ride into the westward sunset, only to return victorious. DG will pick up your travel expenses soon. One thing is for certain, I'd happily buy a ticket to that rodeo!
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
Follow on Twitter @Cat_Chronicles