Marvin Lewis' stance against celebrations reeks of hypocrisy

by
David Kohl / USA TODAY Sports

On the surface, Marvin Lewis' blast of the NFL's more relaxed celebration rules sounds like a grumpy, old head coach who's simply out of touch with what fans and players want.

"I'm not for that at all," Lewis said Tuesday about the latest rule change. "We had a good standard and the whole standard has always been you want to teach people how to play the game the correct way and go about it the correct way, and that's not a very good example for young people."

Related - Return of the Fun: NFL passes proposal to relax celebration rules

Nearly every other head coach in the league could've made those remarks, and most of the football world would've shrugged it off.

However, Lewis coaches the Bengals, a team that time and time again has taken chances on questionable-character guys and overlooked off-field issues, regardless of how those decisions are viewed outside their facility.

And as the leader of that team, Lewis has to be aware that he's in no position to decide what is and isn't a good example for young people.

If that really was Lewis' primary concern, would Cincinnati have drafted Joe Mixon this year after the controversial running back was captured on CCTV in July 2014 punching a female student?

(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

Or would Vontaze Burfict still be a member of the Bengals? The linebacker has been accused of intentionally trying to injure opponents, was suspended for three games to start the 2016 campaign due to an egregious helmet-to-helmet hit on Antonio Brown during the 2015 playoffs, and is almost universally known as the dirtiest player in the NFL.

And the less said about Adam Jones the better. The veteran cornerback's entire career has been dominated by off-field issues, with the most recent incident leading to him being charged with a misdemeanor after making profane comments toward a Cincinnati police officer. Jones also had a felony charge dropped for allegedly spitting on a nurse.

At least Jones didn't coordinate a "Gangnam Style" dance afterward - maybe then he'd have felt the wrath of Lewis and the Bengals.

Instead, what was Lewis' actual response to Jones' latest indiscretion? Telling the player to work on his image.

Work on his image?! Maybe try some tough love, Marvin. Or, you know, release the guy, if you truly don't want young kids to think that's how you should behave.

Now, Lewis and Cincinnati are far from the only coach and team that turns a blind eye to distractions and poor behavior when it's balanced out by talent and production.

But the Bengals are arguably the worst offenders, and the cost of taking on guys like Mixon, Burfict, and Jones is that you have to cede the moral high ground.

If Lewis really cared about negatively influencing young people, he wouldn't consistently show them that you can get away with nearly anything as a professional athlete as long as you're talented enough.

His misguided stance against celebrations reeks of hypocrisy, and that's without even getting into the fact that he stood on the sidelines as Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson spent his entire career doing this, and this, and this.

The NFL's new rules still prohibit offensive and excessive celebrations, such as mimicking a weapon or taunting an opponent. This won't be the Wild West, with players celebrating in any inappropriate way they want. And even if it was, Lewis sure isn't in any position to act as Sheriff.