While 23.8 million Americans participated in archery in 2015, a few NFL players shot imaginary bows and arrows during televised games. Their actions caught the attention of fans and, unfortunately for archery enthusiasts, NFL officials.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks used imaginary archery equipment and movements since 2015. His post-touchdown celebrations were his way of showing his religious faith, and inspired the nickname “The Archer.”
“Cooks said the motion referenced a Bible verse in which a boy named Ishmael used his archery skill to survive in the desert after he nearly died there without water,” reported a Nola.com article.
Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry used the move to celebrate an interception in 2015 against the Pittsburg Steelers. And this past fall, Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman simulated shooting a bow and arrow on the field.
Although Berry and Cooks sneaked under the radar, the NFL fined Norman $10,000 because Dean Blandino, the league’s officiating head, said the gesture “mimics a violent act” and warrants an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Despite Norman’s fine, Cooks remains committed to his archery-inspired celebration and vowed to “figure it out” when talking to reporter Larry Holder for the article “Brandin Cooks says he’ll continue TD celebration despite Josh Norman’s bow-and-arrow fine.”
And that’s exactly what he did. Cooks adapted his archery celebration to avoid penalties and fines. The revised move, televised after Cooks’ 87-yard touchdown against the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 16, still uses an imaginary quiver and arrow, but no imaginary shots.
Perhaps an article by ESPN’s Mike Triplett said it best: “Brandin Cooks pulled out his arrow – but the NFL stopped him from shooting it.”
Instead of shooting the arrow, the former Oregon State player raised his arms and motioned to the crowd behind the end zone.
Watch the modified move in the video above, and read more about the controversy in Archery 360’s article Should NFL Players Be Fined For On-Field “Archery?”