It’s July. Sports are almost back, and yet the debate dominating the headlines is perhaps the most senseless and ridiculous that we’ve had since the quarantine began in April: Are Patriots players allowed to celebrate?
The debate was sparked by a viral clip of local radio personalities Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti questioning whether Cam Newton’s “dapping” and “supermanning” after touchdowns would fly now that he’s a New England Patriot. Outrage quickly ensued, with some going as far as to call the two hosts racists, and old clips made the rounds supporting both sides of the debate.
The first clip was Bill Belichick talking to his team in 2009 explaining a desire for more enthusiasm. Belichick stresses playing with energy and excitement, as well as congratulating teammates on important plays.
However, in 2017, Rob Gronkowski said the Patriots aren’t allowed to talk about celebrations in a postgame press conference after a win against the Miami Dolphins.
Patriots safety Devin McCourty reiterated this sentiment by saying, “We’d probably hear it if we did do group celebrations” in 2017 after the NFL loosened penalty rules for excessive celebrations. Additionally, if what Belichick said in the first clip about wanting his team to show enthusiasm after big plays is true, he certainly doesn’t take his own advice:
The true answer appears to lie somewhere in the middle. Bill Belichick may encourage a pat on the back, a few high fives or cheers of encouragement, but he probably wouldn’t be okay with his team breaking out in a game of duck-duck-goose in the endzone. There’s a difference between enthusiasm and arrogance, or intimidation and taunting. In his mid-week press conferences, Belichick is known for praising every opponent the Patriots are set to face because he wants them to feel respected. A team that feels slighted is always more dangerous. It works the same way on the field. He wants his team to get themselves motivated with their actions, but when you start mocking your opponents, that’s when you start playing with fire.
So, the question is, will Cam Newton be allowed to celebrate? Probably. A zebra doesn’t change his stripes, and if the Patriots are expecting Newton to come in and change his entire personality, that’s their mistake. You reap what you sow, and if the Patriots didn’t want Cam Newton to be Cam Newton, they should’ve thought of that before they signed him. Something tells me someone as smart as Bill Belichick knows all that and isn’t going to bat an eye when Newton breaks out the Superman pose after scoring.
Photo: (Gail Burton – AP Photo)