The NFL will strictly enforce taunting rules during the 2021 season, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
In its annual rule changes and points of emphasis video, the league said two taunting penalties in a game will lead to an automatic ejection. Players can also receive fines or be suspended depending on the severity of the actions.
Peter Schrager of Fox Sports clarified what officials are looking for this season:
A taunting offense will result in a 15-yard penalty for the offending team.
The increased emphasis on taunting comes after a call to action from the NFL's competition committee.
"We saw an increase in actions that clearly are not within the spirit and intent of this rule and not representative of the respect to opponents and others on the field," the points of emphasis video stated.
As former official and NBC analyst Terry McAulay noted, an increase in flags may be intended to prevent escalation of on-field conflict:
Terry McAulay @SNFRules
This coincides with the NCAA’s equally strict emphasis on taunting this year. Basically, zero-tolerance. Taunting opponents in a sport that is normally played at a level of high emotional often escalates to more serious events that are very difficult to manage and control. <a href="https://t.co/9YLY7wKeYP">https://t.co/9YLY7wKeYP</a>
Regardless, the rule emphasis could lead to penalties that are unpopular among players and fans this season.