The NFL has once again instituted stricter regulation on celebration that literally not one fan asked for.
In its officiating points of emphasis video for 2021, the NFL competition committee announced its intent to up the enforcement of taunting penalties, citing concerns from coaches around the NFL.
Automatic ejections and fines for taunting aren’t new, but this was an issue that competition committee chairman Rich McKay said coaches spoke up about in the spring. Exact quote from the video below. Illegal use of helmet remains a point of emphasis for officials as well. pic.twitter.com/oLLS3dOafH— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 10, 2021
As Pelissero notes in his tweet, the taunting penalty will now serve as a “yellow card” for players, with two such penalties giving them a one-way ticket to the locker room.
I ask, why up the enforcement of these penalties? Wasn’t Antoine Winfield giving Tyreek Hill a taste of his own medicine the most memorable moment of the Super Bowl? After all, this play likely generated untold traffic across the league’s media platforms, and added excitement to the game and a potential storyline for any future matchups.
Furthermore, if so many limits have been removed from touchdown celebrations, why try and limit what happens between the goal-lines? As long as there is no physical or verbal abuse involved, any sort of celebration after plays (or during them, as Golden Tate once did against the Rams) should be totally permissible.
The below video from the NFL shows some incredibly harmless actions that would be more strictly prohibited with the new guidance. You can see just how pointless this change in emphasis would be:
Here's the video sent out today stating that game officials have been instructed to strictly enforce taunting rules in games this season. pic.twitter.com/1Ssd7h82EJ— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) August 10, 2021
In the video, the NFL says the change in emphasis stems from a desire to maintain “respect” among players on the field. I ask, what is respectful about beating the crap out of the guy in front of you? Do boxers not celebrate after a knockout, or play up the hype around a fight at the weigh in? Of course, like I said, anything extracurricular should be punished, but I can only see the enforcement of harmless gestures like the ones shown in the video hurting the league ‘s image in the eyes of fans. It’s time that the league’s owners and coaches give up their outdated vision of on-field play as some sort of purely athletic competition, and treat it as the entertainment spectacle that it is, which many of us value it most as.
Some rules over the years have taken away from entertainment in the name of player safety (especially positive changes involving the use of the helmet in tackles). But with no player safety at risk without this change in enforcement, there is genuinely no real reason for the NFL to do this. In fact, all I can really think of is that the NFL would want to collect fines. But a corporation that big charging players for such benign acts is like if the FBI started doing parking enforcement. What a joke!
And if you’re already as upset as I am about this rule change, just imagine if its questionable enforcement affected the outcome of a game. I would be livid.