“The NFL, concerned that some players might celebrate by flashing the hand signals of street gangs,” writes the Chicago Tribune’s Sam Farmer, “has hired experts to examine game tapes and identify the gestures.” I can only hope this guy was one of the experts chosen.
“There have been some suspected things we’ve seen,” said Milt Ahlerich, the league’s vice president of security. “When we see it, we quietly jump on it immediately, directly with the team and the player or employee involved to cease and desist. Period.”
“We were always suspicious that [gang-related hand signals] might be happening,” said Mike Pereira, the NFL’s vice president of officiating. “But the Paul Pierce thing is what brought it to light. When he was fined . . . that’s when we said we need to take a look at it and see if we need to be aware of it.”
The way some players see it, there is guesswork involved, even for the experts who are studying game video.
“Guys come from all over the country, and who knows what they’re really doing?” said Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Dennis Northcutt, adding he cannot remember seeing a gang gesture in his nine NFL seasons. “People have got signs for their kids, signs for their fraternities. How do you differentiate who’s really throwing up gang signs?”
Northcutt gave an example.
“This is a gang sign,” he said, touching his index finger to his thumb to form a squished OK sign. “But at the same time, it’s a sign for a personnel group.”