N.F.L. to Crack Down on Taunting This Season
The NFL announced on Tuesday that as part of its stated commitment to “protect players from unnecessary risk, while keeping the game fair, competitive and exciting,” it will implement new rules and focus on others. for improving the game.
Main among his priorities for the coming season: disciplining players for shots aimed at an opponent’s head, relaxing the rules related to Covid-19 regarding the length of time injured players are ineligible and ensuring that players don’t tease each other too much.
Emphasizing this point, the league urged officials to strictly enforce the taunt rules, which include the automatic ejection of players who accumulate two taunt penalties in a match. The player may also be fined or suspended, or both, depending on the seriousness of his violation.
“The NFL Players Association, the coaches and the competition committee have all made a strong statement about respect for everyone on the field,” the league said Tuesday in its annual video on rule changes and points. of interest. “We have seen an increase in actions that are clearly not in the spirit and intent of this rule and are not indicative of respect for opponents and others on the pitch.”
The renewed effort to enforce the taunt rules will target “baiting or taunting acts or words” and “abusive, threatening or insulting language or gestures” towards players, coaches and game officials, as defined by the NFL Unsportsmanlike Conduct Rules.
But the broad and subjective definition of taunt could mean a crackdown on some of the game’s most spontaneous and entertaining manifestations of personality, which could include gestures that have become trademarks for some players.
In one of the most memorable moments of the last Super Bowl, Tampa Bay security Antoine Winfield Jr. threw a peace sign in the face of Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, mocking the usual celebration of the landing. by Hill. Winfield was reported for taunting and fined $ 7,815 for the gesture, a fraction of the maximum, $ 15,450, that can be imposed on a player by the league, depending on the seriousness of his action.
Hill was not penalized for flashing the peace sign at Winfield on his way to the end zone in a Week 12 game, the game that prompted his Super Bowl revenge.
However, some notable instances of taunts last season have passed a room or two. The Ravens were flagged for taunting in their playoff win over the Titans after members of the defense celebrated an interception in the fourth quarter by affixing the Titans logo. Baltimore cornerback Marcus Peters, who successfully intercepted, was fined $ 15,000.
Peters and the Ravens were fighting back over an incident ahead of a Week 11 game in which Malcolm Butler and other Titans players rallied over the Ravens logo, sparking a showdown with the Baltimore players and coach John Harbaugh . Tennessee was not penalized for taunting.
In Week 8, Bears wide receiver Javon Wims was sent off from a game, and then suspended, for hitting Saints’ defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, resulting in a midfield brawl between the teams that were dispersed by officials. Wims said Gardner-Johnson provoked the fight by spitting at him and ripping off his mouthpiece. No one was reported for taunting.
Provocative calls result in a 15-yard penalty for the offending team, although flags for gestures such as staring or first-down celebrations have declined alongside the reduction in NFL rules against over-celebrating touchdowns. , which began in 2017. The league released 10 taunting penalties last season and eight in 2019, up from an average of 24 flags each season from 2013 to 2018.
This spring, the competition committee sent the 32 teams its report recommending that the officials department pay more attention to taunts, would have because the coaches of the committee felt that the application had become lax.
“Any blatant act or remark that mocks, mocks, baits or embarrasses an opponent is considered a mockery,” the report said.
Under the new league plan, this means not to spike or spin the ball, point the ball or a finger, verbally mock, stand or step over an opponent for too long or in a manner that provokes it. Gestures that simulate handcuffs would be considered taunts, as the report points out.
In the video announcement of the change, released on Tuesday, the NFL used as an example a clip of Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell flexing Myles Jack’s face after receiving a blow from the Jaguars linebacker in a game last season, for which Campbell was reported for unsportsmanlike conduct. It also included Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who threw the ball near a Texans defenseman after a first down in a 2020 game. Landry was called up for taunts.
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