Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/26/12
Dimitar Berbatov semi-literally took a page out of Keyshawn Johnson’s book. The Premier League figuratively took one out of the National Football League’s in response. The soccer star scored a goal for Fulham England’s Premier League on Wednesday. He celebrated by taking off his jersey and revealing a T-shirt containing a somewhat familiar handwritten message: “Keep Calm and Pass Me the Ball.” Referee Phil Dowd represented the long arm of the law and cautioned Berbatov for removing his jersey. Dowd didn’t have to show the 31-year-old a yellow card. He simply ignored the obvious humor and applied a strict interpretation of that law of the game. The NFL is commonly derided as the “No Fun League,” as players are often penalized for excessive touchdown celebrations and other displays of emotion that officials think goes too far. Berbatov’s message hearkens back to the days of yore (fall of 1997 to be exact) when Johnson, then a talented rookie wide receiver wrote a book titled Just Give Me the Damn Ball!: The Fast Times and Hard Knocks of an NFL Rookie. Berbatov’s situation is different from that great philosopher-receiver’s. Johnson was (and still is) the brash and outspoken type, who liked having a good time. The skillful Bulgarian has a reputation for being moody or even surly.  Earlier this week, Fulham manager Martin Jol described how he must handle Berbatov with care, according to the Mail. “If things are going well then everyone will be happy with him but if things are not going well then he can be unhappy,” Jol told a news conference. “He is used to winning games at the clubs where he was so we have to talk to him. He has to put in the same attitude and work-rate that he always did before.” Berbatov finally displayed a lighter side to his personality, and the league throws the book at him. Sometimes it’s best to give the people what they expect. It can be safer that way. Check out Berbatov’s T-shirt below. Have a question for Marcus Kwesi O’Mard? Send it to him via Twitter at @NESNsoccer, NESN Soccer’s Facebook page or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag. Photo via Twitter/@Premier League

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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