Just like the collective jaw of the country’s two biggest sports networks on Sunday after Randy Moss’s now-infamous touchdown celebration, mine also dropped in shock.
But the celebration itself — in which Moss scored a touchdown, and then pretended to moon the Lambeau Field crowd — didn’t bother me at all. Instead, I was shocked about the way the celebration was covered by Fox and ESPN.
There’s nothing wrong with celebrating a touchdown in an over-the-top or attention-grabbing way, but there is a huge problem with our hypocritical society condemning such harmless celebrations.
My biggest problem with all these critics freaking out about the celebration is how innocent the entire ordeal was. Who was really hurt or offended? As far as I can tell, the worst that comes from a fake mooning is the potentially awkward moment between a father and son: “Daddy, what did Randy Moss just do?”
Moss didn’t take out a gun and shoot anybody. He didn’t use racial slurs. He didn’t expose himself. He didn’t curse. He didn’t even give anyone the finger.
Let’s be honest here: if that awkward father/son moment is the biggest piece of societal damage that comes from this touchdown celebration, isn’t that a good thing?
One semi-suggestive celebration, and suddenly people forget about Moss’s two touchdowns or the fact that his team beat the Packers in the playoffs at one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. As of yesterday, there was talk that Moss would be fined and might even be suspended.
As ESPN’s Michael Wilbon joked on Monday’s “Pardon the Interruption,” if anything, Moss deserves to be suspended for his out-of-control hairdo but not for his celebration.
If there’s anyone that does deserve to be suspended after this whole thing, it’s Joe Buck and the rest of the broadcasters who made such a big deal about the celebration. Immediately afterward, while announcing the game, Buck called the incident “disgusting” with a fervor that would make it seem like Moss just stomped on a bunch of pigeons. On an overreaction scale from 1 to 10, Buck was somewhere around a 12.
To be honest, I didn’t even realize what had happened with Moss until I heard Buck screaming about it — and I bet I’m not the only one who didn’t notice the celebration.
Buck wasn’t alone in his criticism of Moss’s celebration. The Fox network, which broadcasted the game, refused to show any replays of the “incident” during the game or afterward. That’s right, the same network that refused to show a three-second replay of a guy pretending to moon a crowd has aired hour-long, quality-of-life enhancing shows like “Who’s Your Daddy?” (a paternity guessing game), “The Swan,” (a plastic surgery contest) and “The Littlest Groom” (a “little” version of ABC’s “The Bachelor”). And the list goes on.
In the midst of all the hoopla about Moss lurks one legitimate target that always seems to go unnoticed — beer commercials broadcast during the game. Not that I have anything against beer — but if just one of the many ads from Bud, Miller or Coors Light influences just one child towards alcoholism, then it is already thousands of times worse than Moss’s celebration. And how many of these commercials air during the game?
Similarly, commercials about erectile dysfunction are much more suggestive (and sure to create more awkward “Daddy, what’s that?” moments) than Moss’s celebration. But there’s no limit to how many Viagra, Cialis and Levitra commercials are shown during football, and few people raise a stink about any of them.
ESPN is just as guilty of not practicing what it preaches. “SportsCenter” didn’t show the Moss replay on Sunday — neither did “NFL Primetime.” But during both of these shows, ESPN had no problem airing provocative commercials for its new series “Tilt,” based on the poker-craze (the series premiere will air tomorrow night). Sex, gambling and violence are fine for ESPN in advertising its own show, but Moss’s celebration — an incident about a hundred-times less suggestive than ESPN’s own commercials — can’t be shown on “SportsCenter.”
Until the networks airing these NFL games clean up their own programming and stop running commercials for alcohol and impotence drugs, there is no reason for any of these “questionable” celebrations to cease. And as someone who isn’t offended by any of those aforementioned things and wasn’t offended by Moss on Sunday, I hope that the only change made is less hypocrisy in deciding what is “appropriate” and what is “disgusting.”
Daniel Bremmer can be reached at email@example.com.