On Tuesday evening, at exactly 6:24 Eastern time, Troy Vincent became the symbol for every football-following, fun-hating fuddy-duddy in America.

The NFL's executive vice president of football operations and formerly a cornerback with the Eagles, Vincent posted on Twitter that the NFL was "developing an educational training video for players to show clear examples of appropriate and inappropriate celebrations."

You can imagine the reaction among sports' and social media's cognoscenti of cool. There were lamentations that the NFL was wasting its time with such matters. There was outrage and snark and complaints that the league was trying to make its games less entertaining and enjoyable. There was a lot of digital eye-rolling over the whole thing, punctuated by a series of tweets by Packers tight end Martellus Bennett, who wrote, "Let the players express their individuality and creativity. Y'all gonna make an educational video on how we should talk next?"

During a conference call Thursday ahead of next week's NFL owners meetings, Vincent said that the league wasn't planning to implement any rule changes or harsher penalties for excessive celebrations.

"As a former player," he said, "I understand the spontaneous nature of a big play and wanting to be excited and to have fun with your teammates. We just want to make sure there are things that don't belong in our game, to keep them out. Frankly, we want the officials officiating the game, not throwing flags because a guy's celebrating."

Still, that the league's honchos are going to the trouble of creating an Afterschool Special style video for grown men is revealing. ("Carson and Jordan have learned something today. They've learned they need to run right off the field after completing their 30-second-long, choreographed succession of handshakes and chest bumps, because that's what good football players do.") It suggests that they consider this topic a relatively grave one, and commissioner Roger Goodell affirmed as much on ESPN earlier this week.

"What we've heard from our players, repeatedly heard from our fans, is they want to give the players the opportunity to celebrate and to do it in a way that's respectful," he said.

There hasn't been an epidemic of unseemly touchdown celebrations in the NFL recently, so it seems pretty clear that there's something else at work here: namely, Colin Kaepernick and his protests last year during the national anthem. The backlash to those protests (and the possibility that it affected bottom-line matters such as TV ratings and ticket sales) was none too pleasing to league executives and owners, and if they can avoid similar resentment among fans and sponsors by stopping controversy before it starts, then they're going to try. It's just dumb that they're trying, for a few reasons:

* Even if Vincent is right and the league doesn't want to crack down formally on excessive celebration, merely reminding game officials to keep their eyes open for any suspicious end-zone dances adds another responsibility to an overtasked group. The NFL rule book swells annually. (The Eagles themselves proposed four rules changes, including one for "additional protection for long-snappers on kick plays," presumably so that nothing would jeopardize Jon Dorenbos' availability for future appearances on nationally televised talent shows.)

Officials already have to mind every play to judge holding, illegal contact, pass interference, illegal hits, and the varying definitions of and standards for those terms. Now, the league wants them to police the aftermath of every big play, too, and determine whether a player or players have done something egregious and offensive. Enough.

* Seriously, an instructional video? To grown men? About the proper way to celebrate? Roger, Troy, here's a thought: If you treat people like children, two things will happen. They will resent you, and they will be more likely to carry out the very behavior you wish to squelch. That is, they will act like children.

* There is, of course, a place for showmanship in football, and there is a difference between genuine exuberance and the kind of conduct that reveals an athlete to be self-absorbed and graceless. In an age when the celebration of the self is encouraged in social and traditional media, by politicians, and throughout the popular culture, it's naive to think that more athletes won't reflect that reality and that more fans, immersed in it themselves, won't accept it.

In such an environment, the running back or wide receiver who scores a touchdown and simply hands the football to the referee - the guy who, in the oldest of old-school cliches, acts as if he's been there before - becomes all the rarer, and all the more admirable for displaying such humility. When Goodell says that fans want players to be "respectful," he's hinting at that concept, or at least paying lip service to it.

But here's the thing: To be truly admirable, that humility has to be voluntary. It can't be mandated, can't be imposed from on high, if it is to retain its grace. The person who donates $1,000 to charity is generous. The person who pays $1,000 in taxes isn't necessarily generous; he or she either follows the law or suffers punishment. And the NFL's wish to "keep out things that don't belong in our game" is closer to the latter example than it is the former. It's about image, and image alone, and there's nothing honorable in that.