Running back Jordan Howard didn’t even have time to put a helmet on.
When safety Eddie Jackson returned an interception 41 yards in the fourth quarter to help secure the Bears’ 23-16 Thanksgiving victory against the Lions, Howard ran off the sideline to celebrate. He was one of 13 players — wide receiver Josh Bellamy ran in, too — who celebrated by doing “up-downs” in the Lions’ end zone.
“I just run out there,” Howard said. “It’s really spur of the moment.”
In 2019, that could result in a penalty on the Bears.
The Washington Post reported Monday that the NFL’s competition committee will discuss a proposal at the scouting combine this week that would prohibit players from leaving the sideline to celebrate an on-field play. Doing so would result in a 15-yard penalty. Players on the field still would be allowed to celebrate without a flag.
If the committee proposes a rule change, it would be voted on at the NFL’s annual meeting in March. It would need a two-thirds majority to pass.
The NFL relaxed its celebration penalties before the 2017 season to rave results. The Eagles pioneered choreographed celebrations during their Super Bowl season. The Bears were perhaps the league’s most boisterous squad last year, planning celebrations during the week and unveiling them after touchdowns and takeaways.
In the same Lions game, they celebrated Kyle Fuller’s game-sealing interception with a Motown routine, led by “lead singer” Prince Amukamara. Earlier, running back Tarik Cohen invoked Thanksgiving by pretending to take a nap after his fourth-quarter touchdown.
In Week 11 against the Vikings, the Bears’ offensive players celebrated an Anthony Miller touchdown by pretending to row a boat. Later in that game, Jackson celebrated a pick-six by pretending to lead an orchestra of teammates.