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The NFL loosened its celebration rules, but the Patriots are having none of it

The Vikings got together for a game of duck, duck, goose after scoring a touchdown against the Bears in October.
The Vikings got together for a game of duck, duck, goose after scoring a touchdown against the Bears in October.DARRON CUMMINGS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Patriots have much to celebrate. So why aren’t they celebrating?

The NFL loosened its restrictions on celebrations over last offseason to allow for spontaneous displays of emotion including group celebrations, celebrations on the ground, and using the ball as a prop. Since then there have been bobsledders in Green Bay, airport security patdowns in Washington, and games of duck, duck, goose in Minnesota.

But in Foxborough? Not much, beyond a handful of Gronk spikes and Brady head bumps. Twenty-seven touchdowns, seven interceptions, and not a single creative group celebration.

“This place doesn’t scream fun, does it?” safety Devin McCourty joked.


It’s the Patriots’ way, corporate as the clean-shaven Yankees. There’s another reason for the lack of celebrations, though: The players are worried coach Bill Belichick wouldn’t approve.

“We’d probably hear it if we did do group celebrations,” said McCourty. “You would be allowed to but it would be one of those things, I mean, just act like we’ve been there. It would be one of those remarks, I would imagine.”

Rob Gronkowski got zinged by Belichick for his toy soldier celebration against the Jets (“He said I’ve got twinkle toes,” Gronkowski said), so the rest of the Patriots fear they could be next. Gronkowski, if anyone, has some celebration leeway because of his iconic spike, which Belichick apparently loves.

“No thought but all heart and passion, I mean, he loves it,” said McCourty.

McCourty couldn’t think of a group celebration Belichick would be in favor of, but he was curious.

“That is a good question. That’s a question you should bring to the [press conference],” he said.

No, thank you.

The other problem is that a player — or a group of players — needs to take it upon himself to devise and implement a group celebration. None of the Patriots seem willing to.


“The receivers, every team it’s the receivers or running backs, but we don’t have no strong personalities in the receivers,” McCourty joked. “[Brandin Cooks] could lead it but all he wants to do is shoot arrows, but you can’t do that.”

No dice, said Cooks, whose preferred celebration is to shoot an imaginary bow and arrow, which is still a penalty because it mimics a weapon.

“If my team does it I’ll do it, but I’m not the one to orchestrate it,” Cooks said.

If not Cooks, then the running backs, McCourty suggested.

“Their group is killing us because the running backs should be kind of the leaders of the group celebration, but they’re 0-fer,” McCourty said.

McCourty floated Brandon Bolden as a potential mastermind. Bolden, though, isn’t planning anything for the time being.

“No, I don’t do that,” he said. “That’s James’s department.”

James is James White. He, too, passed the buck.

“I would be the ringleader?” White said. “Oh, I’d have to think of something that everybody could do.

“I don’t know how much Coach would like it if we’re doing a group celebration,” he added.

It would need to be a veteran player less susceptible to Belichick’s ribbing. Tom Brady?

McCourty joked that Brady would only get in on a celebration if someone threw an avocado on the field.

“Nobody would want to do that but people would love it. If they all went into the end zone to like eat ice cream. People would love it,” McCourty said, speaking through laughter.


“But that’s the thing, he’s not really cool. He’s just a guy that’s married to a supermodel. Like, he’s not cool. You wouldn’t want to do his group celebration. And he’s too old.”

McCourty said the most likely scenario for a Patriots group celebration would be if the running backs choreographed something and then all ran into the end zone to perform after one of them scored. They’d have to do it quickly, though.

“Theirs is hard because they have to be off the field in time to kick the extra point. If you mess up that extra point that’ll be the last group celebration you ever do,” McCourty said.

“I think the Steelers had that. I think one of the early ones they had to take a timeout or a delay of game and they were about to go for 2 [points]. Can you imagine if we did that here? If he wasn’t paying attention and it was a situation where you needed to go for 2. Not good.”

McCourty said he wouldn’t expect to see exuberant group displays any time soon. Just more wins, postseason runs, and championships. Yawn.

“What do they say around here? At least we win,” McCourty said. “It might not always be fun, but at least we’re winning.”

Nora Princiotti can be reached at nora.princiotti@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @NoraPrinciotti.