Although the NFL has decided to ease some of its game-day celebration rules, the pantomiming of a bow and arrow will remain illegal for the coming season, which one football player says is unfair. In May, NFL owners voted to relax its stringent rules around celebrations after both team owners and fans complained that such theatrics should, in fact, be allowed for the sake of team fun and viewer enjoyment.
But pretending to use a weapon will continue to draw a penalty and a steep fine, according to reports. Washington NFL team cornerback Josh Norman, whose signature celebration is the firing of a fake bow and arrow, said he feels targeted. “You’re just picking on one person here,” Norman told ESPN. “[Brandin] Cooks has been doing it for years, and now all of a sudden you want to quit and stop it? Why is that?”
Norman said it doesn’t seem consistent that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots are both permitted to use weapons at their games (Tampa Bay fires unloaded cannons from a makeshift pirate ship and New England fires empty muskets) yet he’s banned from releasing a non-existent arrow into the ether.
“You can shoot a cannon in a stadium, or you can shoot a musket in a stadium as well,” Norman said. “If one of them is bad and looked at as dangerous, how come not all of them are looked at in that way? ... When someone shoots an imaginary bow and arrow up in the sky, that’s a penalty?” Norman toldThe Washington Post that Tampa Bay’s cannon fire is a “violent act.”
Last season, Norman was fined $10,000 for performing his signature celebration after an interception against the Cleveland Browns. He says he’ll come up with a new way to celebrate, but he’s not pleased.
“It’s not like you're shooting at somebody,” he went on during his interview with ESPN. “You’re shooting up. It gets the crowd excited, something to where everyone’s getting pumped up, so why take that away? What for? You don't come back to the locker room and come get a bow and arrow and shoot somebody. Like, come on, man, let’s have fun. Let us do something to where we feel excited. We’re not out here shooting someone with a gun. I can understand that. It’s shooting a bow and arrow. An imaginary bow and arrow. Why is that violence? You saying the people that came before us were violent? That’s how I see it.”
What is acceptable, though, are group celebrations, snow angels, using the football as a prop, and spiking the football over the goalpost (yet no hanging on it like a basketball rim), The Washington Post reported. Although there is no list that codifies what could be deemed as offensive, NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero tweeted that the league will not tolerate “prolonged acts, miming weapons, offensive gestures, sexually suggestive stuff still expected to be banned. That includes twerking.”
In June, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of a band named “The Slants,” a group of Asian-American musicians that had been fighting to trademark its band name. The court eventually concluded that disparaging terms–such as “slants”–are protected by the First Amendment. “The disparagement clause violates the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his opinion regarding the Lanham Act, a law that was originally established to ban the trademarking of racial slurs and other disparaging words.
The ruling, which was considered a victory by the Washington NFL team, saying they were “thrilled,” is expected to have an impact on the case brought against them by Amanda Blackhorse et al. regarding the team’s name. Blackhorse has been in a years-long battle in the courts hoping to force the team to change its name–a word the dictionary defines as “a contemptuous term used to refer to a North American Indian.”
Since the Supreme Court ruling, two men have filed to trademark the n-word to make sure it does not become a trademark owned by racists, The Washington Postreported.
“If an individual organization tries to use it to gain finances for their organization . . . that is not something we think is right, we’re going to protect our mark,” Curtis Bordenave, an African-American man of Columbus, Mississippi, and one of two men to file to trademark the n-word, told the Post. Bordenave filed to trademark the racial slur with Steve Maynard, an attorney from Alexandria, Virginia. Along with filing to trademark that racial epithet, Maynard also filed to trademark the much-despised Nazi swastika allegedly to quell hatred.