Any kid who plays the sport they love, loves to get fired up and celebrate with their teammates or coaches after scoring a goal, or making a big play during the game. It’s what every kid has grown up doing, it is in their blood.
When the National Football League (NFL) announced this offseason that referees league-wide would crack down on “taunting” penalties, players did not realize this would take away any emotion they could display after making a big play during a game.
According to the NFL rulebook, taunting is: “The use of baiting or taunting acts or words that engender ill will between teams,” and results in a 15-yard penalty if committed by the offense or an automatic first down if committed by the defense.
Players can also be fined up to $10,300 for their first offense and up to $15,450 for a second offense, and all fines can be appealed per nbcsports.com.
Superstar wide receiver Tyreek Hill, has been hit with these calls his entire career. For example, in previous games when Hill has been on the way to the end zone, with nobody is front of him, he has flipped the peace sign to the defender behind him. The sign, while peaceful, tells the player he’s been left in the dust.
This is one of the taunting penalties that makes sense because Hill is taunting the defender as he’s going into the end zone.
If there is one thing the NFL is good at, it is keeping their promise.
The most taunting penalties in a season dates back to when the league introduced the rule. In 2009, there were 29 taunting penalties in 267 games. This season, there have been 31 so far this season – in 165 games. There have already been more penalties in 102 fewer games.
The taunting penalty that put NFL fans in an uproar happened on a Monday night earlier this year in a clash between the Chicago Bears and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh, playing in his first game with the Bears after the Steelers had cut him in August, sacked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to force the fourth down.
Marsh stood up and did a spinning kick celebration.
On Marsh’s way back to his sideline, he brushed up against referee Tony Corrente, who looked like he was sticking his butt out at Marsh for him to hit it, before throwing a flag and holding his follow through like he had just made a three pointer.
But Marsh wasn’t penalized for the celebration or brushing up against Corrente. He was penalized for initially looking at the Steelers sideline before jogging back toward his own.
“I saw the player, after he made a big play, run toward the bench area of the Pittsburgh Steelers and posture in such a way that I felt he was taunting them,” Corrente said to pool reporter Adam Hoge.
It’s the things like this that make fans call the NFL the “No Fun League”.
Marsh was cut by the Steelers this year; he should have a right to look over at the Steelers’ sideline and have them think they made a mistake by cutting him.
New York Giants’ president and long-time competition committee member, John Mara, said fans want an increase in taunting calls. “Nobody wants to see a player taunting another player.” said Mara, in an interview published on theringer.com.
Mara is wrong though.
Fans love when players taunt each other.
Some of the most iconic moments in sports history are what the NFL deems taunting: Allen Iverson stepping over Tyron Lue in the NBA finals, Terrell Owens celebrating on the Cowboys logo, and Antonie Winfield Jr. doing Tyreek Hill’s celebration in his face during last year’s Super Bowl.
The NFL may think cutting down on the taunting penalties will result in fewer fights on the field, but that’s just not the case.
The NFL needs to figure out a way to have fewer dirty hits.
If the NFL wants the fans to shake their nickname “No Fun League” some things are going to have to change, like maybe the league should look into fining referee’s for their blatantly missed penalties or for calling a penalty that wasn’t there.