“He may be inactive for a while after this scene,” Al Michaels’ comically quipped about former Houston Texans’ cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III after his celebration caused a penalty during the Super Bowl.
Every player dreams of making an impact during the Super Bowl. For some, it’s throwing the game-winning pass or making an interception to change the tide of the game. For Vernon Hargreaves III, who was cut by the Texans in November, signed by the Bengals, and inactive for yesterday’s Super Bowl, it was causing a taunting penalty in the end zone after Jessie Bates III picked off Rams’ QB Matthew Stafford in the second quarter.
Hargreaves left the last game of the season against the Browns with an ankle injury and didn’t play at all in the NFL Playoffs, something he has in common with his former team. The former 11th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Hargreaves’ actions while inactive during the celebration caused a firestorm of social media commentary and opinions to ensue:
Vernon Hargreaves III is inactive for the Super Bowl but was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty celebrating after a Bengals INT. pic.twitter.com/qNJGJ4z0uo— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 14, 2022
Here’s a good look at Hargreaves’ infraction:
Vernon Hargreaves coming off the bench in white socks with flip flops to celebrate with the Bengals, it’s the Super Bowl pic.twitter.com/uNcKPcw2Ep— The NBA Expert (@RealNBAExpert) February 14, 2022
Houston media took its moment, like every nonsensical influencer at the game in LA did, to shine some light on itself:
Former Texans DB Vernon Hargreaves https://t.co/rAnQtVI6jb— SportsTalk 790 (@SportsTalk790) February 14, 2022
In VHIII’s defense, there have been countless defensive celebrations in the end zone where players—hell, sometimes the entire defense—pile into the end zone to take an over-dramatized picture of them posting up with the player who actually made the play. Hargreaves wasn’t the first player not active in the play to ever celebrate with the players on the field, but he may very well be the last. Every head coach in the offseason is going to say, “Don’t be THAT guy. Don’t potentially cost everyone the Super Bowl because you want to celebrate”.
Hargreaves’ penalty pushed the Bengals back to the 10 yard line, instead of the 20, for their game-tying drive attempt. Ultimately, Hargreaves’ actions were innocuous, as Joe Burrow completed a couple passes and the Bengals’ defense limited the Rams’ ability to get into field goal range. If the Rams were able to put any points on the board before the end of the half, Hargreaves would have had a harder time than he already has.
Still, it’s a tough scene for Hargreaves. Hopefully he can return to action next season with the Bengals; they definitely have needs at the corner position after that game.