Fans, players and even coaches can debate the validity of the NFL rule that prohibits players from using the football – or anything for that matter – as a prop when celebrating touchdowns. Some have even gone onto to say the NFL stands for the “No Fun League.” Regardless if it should or shouldn’t be a rule, the fact that is, currently, it will cost players and teams 15 yards.
On Sunday, after scoring the go-ahead touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons early in the fourth quarter, Buccaneers rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins took the football and stood on it with one foot striking a pose. The officials quickly threw a flag, and Tampa Bay was forced to kickoff from their 20-yard. The Falcons used the great field position to move down the field for the decisive touchdown in the 27-17 win over Tampa Bay.
Then, to make matters worse, the rookie took to his social media Instagram account soon after the game and posted a picture of the pose with a caption that read, “Everybody had a little captain in them.”
The penalty itself on Sunday didn’t sit well with head coach Lovie Smith, then the postgame social media photo drew even more ire from Smith.
“It is a teaching moment for a rookie,” Smith said on Monday afternoon. “With rookies, you want to have those teaching moments before something happens out there. We go over the rules, of course: you can’t use a prop after a touchdown, but when you do it in that situation, it’s just not good. Austin would tell you he’d like to have a lot – not a lot, but a couple of plays [back]; he jumped offsides one time. You’d like to have a couple of things back. Guy really plays hard and we’ll clean those things up.
Smith was then asked about the Instagram post and his reaction to it.
“Shouldn’t even have to answer that,” Smith said. “You know what I’m going to say about that. When guys make mistakes, I confront them immediately – which happened this time.”
During open locker room following Smith’s press conference, Seferian-Jenkins didn’t want to get into the details of his conversation with Smith.
“That’s between me and my coach,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “Just know that once he told me it was not ok. What he said to me is going to stay between me and him.
“At the end of the day, it’s my Instagram, I posted a picture. I shouldn’t have posted it. We’re in the middle of a 1-8 season and I can see why people were upset with it for multiple reasons. The last thing I want to do is put myself in front of the team in anyway. I want to let my play do the talking and not anything after we score because, at the end of the day, we got seven points but gave them 15 yards which led to a game-winning score. Can’t have it. Need to be more mature.
“But when you’re in the heat of the game, you’re just having fun,” Seferian-Jenkins continued. “You’re enjoying it. You work so hard and you just do something fun. That’s what it was. Looking back on it, literally as soon as I got back to the sideline I knew I shouldn’t have done that. It was a lapse of judgment and that’s not what I want to be known for. And that’s not what I want to be answering on a Monday. I do not want my coach having to answer questions about what I did after a touchdown celebration on a Monday.”
Smith said as soon as he was made aware of the instagram post, he talked to Seferian-Jenkins and made his point clear.
“The penalty, of course, right away and when I found out about the Instagram [post] – I’m on Facebook a little bit so I can get pictures of my grandchild, but besides that, I’m not really into the rest of the stuff,” Smith said. ” Once it came to my attention, then I confronted him, is what I thought I said and what I should have said.”
Seferian-Jenkins said he always wants to have fun but knows he has to be more mature as a player.
“If you channel it the right way emotion can be a great thing,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “I like to play the game with passion. I’m a funny dude. I like to do funny things and it’s not funny when you’re 1-8. At the end of the day, it’s not funny at all. There’s a time and place for everything. You need to have emotion out on the field sometimes.
“If you’re playing the game with a blank face, I don’t know why you’re playing. This is a very physical game, a very rough game and a very violent game and you’ve got to smile, have some fun and be emotional about it. That’s the only way I know how to play.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org