You watch any game in the NFL these days you’ll find a cornerback or safety making himself look like an ass for celebrating in truly ridiculous circumstances.
This week Kyle Wilson, perennial receiver chaperone, made the first good play of his NFL career by breaking on a ball indended for Sidney Rice and batting it away. He then jumped up and gave it the old finger wag.
While I’m a big fan of the finger wag as a celebration, Kyle Wilson is the last person on earth who has earned the right to break it out in an NFL game. But Wilson isn’t the only perpetrator of this crime, and believe it or not players are breaking it out in even more ridiculous circumstances.
But I have sympathy, I understand the desire to wag a finger or utter a well-timed ‘Hell no!’, so I’m going to give these guys an idiot-proof guide to when is not acceptable to wag the finger:
- When You Are Considered a Draft Bust
This one’s for you Mr Wilson. Yes you made a nice play on the ball, and yes you broke up that pass, but you coughed up a touchdown in the game too, and when Jets fans look at your draft pick they think of who else they could have had instead of you. That is not the time to break out the finger wag as if you’re Deion Sanders shutting things down. You have no right to wag the finger for quite some considerable time.
- When You Are Down By 30
Defensive backs aren’t alone in this little bit of delusion, but they’re as bad as anybody else at it. This is a team game first and foremost, and the score is a pretty major reflection on your play. You don’t get to celebrate breaking up a pass when your team is getting murdered and you’re down 30. The team you just shut down once has clearly had more than enough joy already to make that pretty insignificant. No matter how good the play was you have to suck it up and keep quiet at least until you bring the score close enough that the game means something again.
- When You Catch a Break With Phantom PI
Corners are big fans of the phantom calls when they go their way. There’s either almost no contact whatsoever, or worse, there’s contact from both sides all the way through, but the DB comes off second best in the exchange, but the official sees something only they can explain, and bails our defensive back out. This is NOT a time to finger wag! You got beat on the play, and no amount of luck at the flag for phantom pass interference suddenly makes that a good play on your behalf. The best you can get away with here is a short clap at the decision and count your lucky stars on the way back to the huddle. No finger wagging.
- When the Ball is Over or Under Thrown
This is a classic amongst corners, especially on the deep ball. Lousy coverage, a step behind the receiver going deep, panic in their hearts, but the quarterback can’t make the throw and the ball lands a full yard out of bounds. Oh yeah, there comes the finger wag. NO! What are you doing? You just blew your jam, got toasted on the release and were running for your life just to try and save the touchdown once the receiver catches the ball. You had nothing to do with the incompletion, no finger wag for you!
- When a WR Drops the Ball
This is my favorite. The defensive back in question is actually beaten to the point the receiver has the ball thrown his way and lands in his hands, but the receiver in question is Greg Little, or Braylon Edwards, or any of the other paddle-handed munchkins that somehow make it to the NFL without anybody noticing they can’t actually catch a football. Killed on the play, but the ball is dropped, that’s an incompletion…ALL ME BABY, finger wag! No, no, no, no! You got killed, you don’t get to finger wag just because the receiver you were covering happens to be even more useless than you are.
I hope this has helped shed some light on what is clearly a tricky issue for NFL defensive backs.
I’m not here to be a naysayer. I love a good finger wag, and Darrelle Revis could get away with it on pretty much every snap of the game, but most NFL defensive backs are not Darrelle Revis. Most defensive backs simply have the attitude that they are Darrelle Revis when the truth is anything but.
Take note my defensive back brethren. Finger wag that shit, but only when you actually made a good play.