Vernon Davis gets flagged for his awesome end zone celebration

Chris Chase

Vernon Davis spent last Saturday night celebrating touchdowns against the New Orleans Saints by dunking the ball through the goal posts. Early in the NFC championship game, the San Francisco 49ers tight end scored on a 73-yard touchdown and reveled in the glory by jumping on a cameraman's podium, surveying the field he had just traversed and preening with an authoritative pose.

Both celebrations used props. Only one is considered illegal by the NFL.

The Pro Bowl tight end was correctly flagged for a 15-yard penalty for his podium leap on Sunday. But why? Why is standing on a podium constructed for a television crew any different than dunking the ball through the uprights? They're both props. What's the difference?

Yeah, the Lambeau Leap was grandfathered through the NFL's anti-fun rules, making it legal. (It's fitting, because grandfathers are the only ones who find that celebration still amusing.) That's understandable. The goal post being acceptable but other inanimate objects not is less so.

Davis' penalty was almost all for naught. Television replays showed that Davis almost stepped out at the 30-yard line while running in for the touchdown. Before reviewing the play, Ed Hochuli long-windedly explained that Davis still would have been flagged for the celebration penalty even if it was determined that he hadn't scored.

How does that work? If a player celebrates a touchdown that never happened, does his celebration still exist? In the NFL, apparently it does.

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