Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 11/28/11

Unless you live under a rock, or if you actually do something on Sundays other that starfish on your couch for nine hours, then you surely heard about Stevie Johnson and his celebration following a first half touchdown. The Bills wide out escaped Revis Island on a quick slant and had quite the celebration afterwards. In honor of his counterpart Plaxico Burress, Johnson did a little dance and then proceeded to pretend that he had been shot in the leg, paying homage to the act that got Plax locked up.

The pretending to be shot part was not the most interesting part of the celebration, as he proceeded to throw up a Piru Bloods sign as he made his way to the sidelines. However, the act in the end zone certainly garnered the most attention.

Bob Costas, fresh off of an outstanding performance grilling Jerry Sandusky, had a little monologue during halftime of the Sunday night snooze fest. He went on about the integrity of the game, and how the showmanship that players today are displaying is disrespectful to their forefathers on the gridiron. But he got it all wrong.

Sure what Stevie Johnson did was surely premeditated, as was the time he lifted his shirt to reveal “Why so serious?”, but what is the harm? There is the fifteen yard excessive celebration penalty that came back to haunt the Bills this week, but it is not as if this was a do or die game for Buffalo. Fred Jackson is out for the year, and their season is quickly going from bad to worse.

Stevie was having a little fun, and Costas apparently is not okay with that.

It is actually surprising that someone hasn’t mocked Plaxico earlier. Here is a guy who took a loaded handgun into a New York City nightclub, held it in his sweat pants, and managed to discharge it into his leg. After an attempted cover up, he was caught and did some hard time. Plax has since returned to prominence for the Jets, but the fact that he put his career, and life, in jeopardy so he could be strapped up in the club is beyond ridiculous.

Stevie Johnson is a character in a league that is sorely in need of them. Personalities are needed to sell the game to a wider audience, and Stevie brings just that. He is best known for his tweet last year, where he seemingly blamed the guy upstairs for his inability to hold onto the ball in the end zone. But he has a swagger to him that many players in the No Fun League are lacking. The game has become so mechanical, with few players bothering to crack a smile on or off the field.

Last week DeSean Jackson took us to a place that is nearing the edge. While celebrating a big play down the field, he tossed the ball at a Giants coach and dusted off his hands in celebration. Many saw it as an egotistical display that placed him further in Andy Reid’s doghouse, while others understood that this is simply who DeSean is. It is like trying to tell Ndamukong Suh to calm down, it simply isn’t happening.

If the league truly wants players to catch the ball in the end zone, hand it to the referee, and jog back to the sideline, then they need to reexamine the way they operate. These players spend their entire lives honing their art form of running, catching and passing the ball, and when they arrive in the promise land, the end zone that is just ten yards deep, they display some raw emotion. They are happy to be there. All of the sprints and weights and lunges were worth it.

Stevie Johnson beat arguably the best all-around defender in the game for a pivotal touchdown in a divisional matchup late in the season. If I was Chan Gailey and my player did not display some emotion, I would be a little concerned. The players need to be emotionally invested in the game, otherwise they can end up going through the motions and coasting from week to week.

Football is a combat sport, and some people seem to forget this. The men that play the game act as missiles flying through the air, trying to dislodge the ball from the hands of their counterparts. Linemen smash into each other every single play as the ball moves up and down the field, and people wonder how they can get caught up in the emotions of it and stomp on an opposing players. Who knows how many times Evan Dietrich-Smith, the player that Suh stomped on, held, grabbed, poked and punched him. But all we see is the result. We see the raw emotion, caught in twenty five slow-motion angles for the entire world to see. Imagine if there was replay during the days of Mike Ditka?

Terrell Owens, despite ranking second in all time receiving yards in the history of the league, is known best for his touchdown celebrations. The Sharpie. The popcorn. The pom-poms. We ate it up, but felt justified in labeling him as a loose cannon. The hypocrisy is almost too much to stomach.

Stevie will surely have a sit down with Chan Gailey this week, and he might even get a phone call from Mr. Goodell. But he should not change the way he plays, or celebrates. I know for a fact that if I beat Bill Simmons on a slant route, I would be celebrating.

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