NFL Crossing the Line With Proposed Taunting Rules

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NFL Crossing the Line With Proposed Taunting Rules
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The litany of rules changes that the NFL has made over the past decade have earned it the unflattering nickname of the "No Fun League" from some.

If recent reports are any indication, the league isn't running from that moniker.

In fact, it's embracing it like Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball.

As Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk reports, NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino said on NFL Network the NFL plans to review the rules concerning taunting. A change may be in the works that will mirror the NCAA.

The play that brought this to the forefront happened last Monday night when Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate waved mockingly at St. Louis defenders as he scored on a long touchdown pass against the Rams.

Tate was hit with a dead-ball taunting foul that cost the Seahawks 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff, but the touchdown stood. As Blandino explained, were the rule to be changed, that would no longer be the case. Blandino said:

A lot of people felt that the touchdown shouldn’t have counted [but] a taunting foul is always treated as a dead-ball foul, meaning whatever happened during the play counts, and the foul is enforced on the next play, which would be the kickoff. In college, this action would take back the touchdown. Tate started taunting at the 25-yard line. The college rule, that’s enforced at the spot of the foul, so they’d go from a touchdown to first-and-10 at the 40, which would be a gigantic penalty. The NFL rule, it’s a dead-ball foul, it’s enforced on the kickoff. But I’m sure that’s something that the Competition Committee will look at in the offseason.

It's unsure who the "lot of people" Blandino is referring to is. Perhaps it's Rams fans and Roger Goodell.

It certainly doesn't appear to be social media users:

They're right. This would be a case of the NFL going overboard after having already gone overboard.

According the Zuri Berry of Boston.com, the NFL already made taunting a point of emphasis for 2013. Per the NFL rule book, the following actions are all punishable by a 15-yard penalty for taunting.

  • Prolonged or excessive celebrations or demonstrations by an individual player.
  • Players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground. A celebration or demonstration shall be deemed excessive or prolonged if a player continues to celebrate or demonstrate after a warning from an official.
  • Two or more players engaging in prolonged, excessive, premeditated, or choreographed celebrations or possession or use of foreign or extraneous object(s) that are not part of the uniform during the game on the field or the sideline, or using the ball as a prop.
  • Removal of his helmet by a player in the field of play or the end zone during a celebration or demonstration, or during a confrontation with a game official or any other player.

If the rules were any stricter, you'd have to apologize after making a tackle or scoring a touchdown.

As John Boyle of the Everett Herald points out, Tate's a bit lighter in the wallet for his trouble as well:

Now the NFL is going to take a potentially game-deciding touchdown off the board because the player got caught up in the moment (or is just a jerk) and showboated into the end zone?

Bleacher Report NFC West Lead Writer Tyson Langland thinks this rule would have had a serious effect on NFL history:

Langland's right too. What Tate did was uncalled for, but taunting has been a part of the NFL for a long time.

At the youth and high school levels, one could certainly argue that this rule is a good idea. At these levels of the game, you're talking about kids, and learning sportsmanship and respect for one's opponent is as important as learning a fly route.

The NCAA and NFL, on the other hand, feature grown men competing so that universities and team owners can make buckets and buckets of money. The NFL features the best of the best, talented and ultra-competitive alpha-males whose livelihood rests on their ability to either get a ball across a line or prevent it.

Those players are going to get carried away from time to time.

Never mind that fans, whether they want to admit it or not, eat that stuff up. It's makes them nuts when it's the other guy, but when their favorite wide receiver starts high stepping at the 20 most fans aren't exactly appalled.

Also, Deion Sanders made millions because of his "Prime Time" persona. Taunting was a huge part of it.

Today's players not only grew up watching Sanders, but they all like money.

Is taunting rude and uncivilized? You bet. It's football, not a dinner party. This isn't a matter of player safety. It's a matter of ridiculous overlegislating of behavior on the field at the risk of changing the outcome of games or even playoff races.

Should the NFL change the taunting rule to mirror the NCAA's?

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That's just madness.

You know it's bad when we have to look at baseball for the proper way to handle something on a football field.

In baseball, if a player showboats after hitting a moon shot, they don't take the home run off the scoreboard. However, the next time that batter faces that pitcher, there's a pretty good chance someone is getting plunked.

It used to be that way in football too. If Tate had done 20 years ago what he did Monday night, the next time he came across the middle a linebacker probably would have been waiting.

Tate would have gotten up looking out his earhole, but he would have learned a valuable lesson about on-field decorum.

Of course, sadly that's not an option in today's NFL.

The league has already outlawed hitting.

 

 

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