A Changed Game: After the Whistle
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The Way it Was


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Pioneers

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Enough is Enough

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Monkey See, Monkey Do

profile of Vince Lombardi The Trend
It's hard to imagine what Vince Lombardi would think of the National Football League today. An icon of the sport, Lombardi led the Green Bay Packers to victories in the first two Super Bowls. This season, two teams will survive to compete for the trophy that bears his name. He was a winner, and he understood what it took to be great. In his own words, "Winning is not a sometime thing: it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while; you don't do the right thing once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit." 1 For him and his players, winning was their job. They went onto the field every day knowing that if they were going to succeed, they were each going to have to beat the man in front of them on the field. He also understood that once you succeeded in beating that man, you would have to face him again on another down. Taunting or dancing in the endzone was not an option. That's just the way it was. Johnny Unitas dropping back to passGreat players like Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown, Franco Harris, and others understood this. If you were to watch a game today, you might think it has always been the way it is now. That is not the case, however. Even spiking the ball in the endzone, as common as it seems, did not make it's mark in the NFL until the 1970s. Over the decades, there has been a drastic shift in on-field celebrations aimed at glorifying the individual. Rather than seeing linemen pat the running back on the back as they jog off the field, it is more common to see the throw the ball in the stands and perform his latest dance for the fans and nearby TV cameras. The team mentality has faded, and the evidence is in the 10 seconds after each touchdown when the individual with the ball lets everyone know who he is. Even recent years have noted a shift. Barry Sanders evading a defenderStars like Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith, two running backs at or near the top of the list in all-time rushing yards (Smith the current record holder), are well known for their respect for the game and other players. These are two men who have had more touchdowns and mindboggling runs than many players can dream about, yet they will be the last ones to tell you about them. Many sportswriters and others around the sport feel that this breed is quickly disappearing. By looking at recent years in the NFL, the shift toward post-play celebrations and the mentality that encourages them can be easily seen.
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What's your definition of "excessive" celebration?