In a move that is sure to stir up strong feelings among players and fans alike, the NFL has doubled down on its effort to enforce taunting across the league. In fact, we’re already seeing exactly how the football-watching public is taking the news via social media. They don’t like the rule update one bit.
The taunting update didn’t come entirely out of the blue. The NFL has been taking steps toward limiting the kinds of celebrations and taunting players can engage in for years now. Based on the recent announcement, however, they may finally be cracking down in a major way.
According to NFL reporter Tom Pelissero, the biggest takeaway from the update is a shift in tone. It seems that the “game officials have been instructed to strictly enforce taunting rules in 2021. Two violations results in automatic ejection, with fines and even suspensions (!!) in play, too.”
He goes on to say that penalties of fines and suspensions for taunting violations are nothing new. But when the league instructs officials to “strictly” enforce something, they mean it. So when the regular season gets underway in a few weeks, the taunting rules that have been on the books are going to have new meaning.
Per Pelissero, competition committee chairman Rich McKay mentioned that NFL coaches brought the perceived taunting issues to the attention of the NFL Players Association and the competition committee itself. Those two bodies agreed that the officials should refocus efforts to enforce the taunting rules on the books according to their intent.
Fans Take to Twitter, Call NFL ‘No Fun League’
Underlying everything is a football audience that has grown to appreciate an appropriately timed taunt or celebration. It’s safe to say they’re not taking the news very well.
“I legitimately do not understand why the NFL gives two sh**s about taunting. Fans LOVE taunting! Obviously there is an extent to which it can go too far, but if anything, the league should be modestly pro-taunt,” a Twitter user wrote.
“The @NFL has given the officials way too much power to influence games with their subjectivity. This taunting garbage is the next absurdity on a very long list. The No Fun League needs fewer rules, not more,” another added.
“If I wanted to watch a sport that didn’t allow taunting, I would watch baseball or golf. KEEP THE NFL FUN,” a disappointed fan offered.
At the end of the day, we’re just going to have to wait and see how the NFL officials decide to interpret their directive to “strictly enforce” taunting. One referee’s idea of inappropriate taunting may be completely different from another’s. It’s safe to say a few players are going to find themselves on thin ice until a clear line is set.