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Ball-spinning rule applies only to taunts

Favre Getty Images

It’s something MDS mentioned the other day, but it’s worth repeating when it comes to the new emphasis on the modern plague otherwise known as spinning the football.

As noted by NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy via Twitter, flags will be thrown for celebrations like spinning the ball and performing military salutes only if directed at an opponent.

So it’s still OK to stand up and spin the ball after gaining a first down while trailing by 27 points in the fourth quarter.  But if the officials believe that the ball is being spun as part of a taunt directed at an opponent (who may not notice because he’s pointing at the scoreboard), it’ll be flagged.

The issue has been flagged because officials have told teams that they’ll be looking more closely at ball spinning this year, and because it is one of the specific points of emphasis for NFL officials in 2013.

Sportsmanship is always a point of emphasis,” the narrator of the league’s new officiating video says. “Directing verbal abuse at an opponent has no part in our game.”  Throwing, spiking, or spinning the ball in the direction of an opponent is a form of taunting that “will not be tolerated.”

So balls can still be spun, as long as it’s not part of a taunt.  But the line between celebratory spinning and a taunt may not be clear.  Which could make it best to find a way to celebrate that can never be construed as taunting.

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31 Responses to “Ball-spinning rule applies only to taunts”
  1. thegreatgabbert says: Aug 8, 2013 1:17 PM

    I miss Brett Favre….

  2. jimmyt says: Aug 8, 2013 1:19 PM

    I just wouldn’t do it period. Ball spinning can hurt.

  3. thestrategyexpert says: Aug 8, 2013 1:20 PM

    Define directly at an opponent.

  4. purpleguy says: Aug 8, 2013 1:22 PM

    I think simply showing that picture is a 15 yard penalty in the minds of most Packer fans.

  5. Dennis Allen's Outgoing Persona says: Aug 8, 2013 1:25 PM

    Also, when the offense scores on the defense, every member of that offense must give every member of that defense a hug and tell them better luck next time or else it will be considered taunting.

  6. warhammer420 says: Aug 8, 2013 1:27 PM

    More subjective nonsense that the refs have to worry about.

  7. aaroncurryisbust says: Aug 8, 2013 1:27 PM

    I wish Marshawn Lynch would spin his balls at me.

  8. chicagobtech says: Aug 8, 2013 1:28 PM

    Barry Sanders did it right.

  9. salutethis says: Aug 8, 2013 1:32 PM

    This Is A Waste Of Time. In A Game Where Both Sides Can Hit Each Other You Really Think Taunting Needs To Be Controlled? The Next Play The Player Could Bring Retrobution. Why Add More Rules Based On intent To A Game Where The Refs AlreadyMeddle Too Much Or Not Enough…

  10. gibson34 says: Aug 8, 2013 1:33 PM

    4skins lead this category hands down…..moss, garcon, etc…king of the I did my job and caught the ball but have to act like a moron as well…..lol.

  11. PacificNWMark says: Aug 8, 2013 1:33 PM

    When they say things like “directing verbal abuse at an opponent has no part in our game” it makes me wonder if we’re even watching the same game.

    I think Richard Sherman could be in for a tough year.

  12. overratedsteelerhater says: Aug 8, 2013 1:35 PM

    just don’t do it.you would be taking a chance of a 15 yd flag that might cost the game.celebrate on the bench after you kicked there ass

  13. bloodyowl says: Aug 8, 2013 1:39 PM

    That’s funny. Because when you guys quoted the rule book in the previous post you guys left out one line. That line read:

    “Violations of (b) will be penalized if any of the acts are committed directly at an opponent. ”

    Seems like you would have never needed this clarification if you wouldn’t have been trying to be intentionally misleading in the first place.

  14. ridingwithnohandlebars says: Aug 8, 2013 1:39 PM

    Just don’t celebrate.

  15. pillowporkers says: Aug 8, 2013 1:39 PM

    It’s funny, we can’t celebrate after touchdowns, that’s a 15 yard penalty. However, its ok for QBs like Brady, Cutler, and Rodgers to whine over every hit, or WRs who want a flag on every non catch, or DEs whinig about not getting the holding call, or coaches like Jim Harbaugh and Tom Coughlin who constantly whine. The lists goes on and on. So we allow these guys to sit and whine about non calls all the time, but we can’t celebrate. I would prefer we take whining out of the game and that’s a 15 yard penalty, and put celebrations back in.

  16. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: Aug 8, 2013 1:40 PM

    If they’re interested in sportsmanship, how about just flagging the obvious displays of unsportsmanlike conduct? You know it when you see it. Officials shouldn’t have to try to figure out if a guy was spinning a ball as a taunt or as a celebration.

  17. ju8686 says: Aug 8, 2013 1:48 PM

    Just another gray rule the league can use to manipulate games …

  18. butterstone84 says: Aug 8, 2013 1:49 PM

    We wouldn’t want to risk anyone’s feelings getting hurt now would we. Why not just give everyone Lombardy trophies at the end of the year and call it a draw and tell everyone that they did a terrific job. This country is so soft these days

  19. melikefootball says: Aug 8, 2013 1:50 PM

    Another rule that is half way, the officials will call at their discretion . Why not no spinning football at all. A guy makes a tackle and does a rain dance or a guy scores a touchdown and gives another rain dance, and this is not taunting.

  20. wtfchiefs says: Aug 8, 2013 1:51 PM

    So do spirals count as taunting now?

  21. GenXJay says: Aug 8, 2013 1:54 PM

    the best ball rotation taunting was last year when Wilson connected with Tate.

  22. notoriousbri says: Aug 8, 2013 1:55 PM

    salutethis says: Aug 8, 2013 1:32 PM

    This Is A Waste Of Time. In A Game Where Both Sides Can Hit Each Other You Really Think Taunting Needs To Be Controlled? The Next Play The Player Could Bring Retrobution. Why Add More Rules Based On intent To A Game Where The Refs AlreadyMeddle Too Much Or Not Enough…

    why is “intent” the only word not capitalized?

  23. liquidv0 says: Aug 8, 2013 2:00 PM

    are they hinting that majority of the players are thin-skinned and so they can’t control themselves?

  24. norcalseahawkfan says: Aug 8, 2013 2:04 PM

    They should jus throw a flags (all refs throw there flags) on every play. Then look at the replay to see if some one got there feelings hurt. 15 yards for every flag (5 flags 75 yards) Fine every player on the field $10,000. That should make the game so unwatchable, football would just go away.
    Isnt that where its going now?
    Or let the government take it over. They are so much better at running things than the people.

  25. roadtrip3500 says: Aug 8, 2013 2:10 PM

    Opponent respect seems to be lacking in sports. The other guys are getting a pretty big paycheck too. When Charles Woodson gave Hakeem Nicks a fist-bump in 2011 after Nicks made an unbelievable TD catch with Woodson covering him like a glove, that’s the interaction I expect to see from true professionals. Same when Tampa Rays 1B Casey Kotchman tipped his cap to Derek Jeter as DJ rounded first when he got his 3000th hit – a home run that tied the game.

    The football taunting, Cadillac’ing in baseball, and in-your-face jawing in basketball just show these newer players don’t always get it. No matter how physical a hockey playoff series gets, they have the handshake line at the end… no matter how lopsided the score or important the situation, when a guy gets his first major league base hit, the defense always tosses the ball out of play to the hitter’s dugout. I have nothing against a good celebration… but the loss of respect is making sports more difficult to watch.

  26. hay1111 says: Aug 8, 2013 2:12 PM

    wow pro football is such a mans game…as manly as Madonna at the superbowl halftime show. this league is ruined, thanks godell

  27. godofwine330 says: Aug 8, 2013 2:13 PM

    These rules are not only being legislated by people who never played the sport, but old White men who believe the reaction in football should be as emotionless as a game of golf between 50 year old White men.

    Football is a game of emotions, and to legislate anything more than quiet sulking or making a penalty out of anything more than the emotion you’d see out of Jim Furyk or Arnold Palmer at a PGA event. They thought the No Fun League was in the 90’s. The No Fun Left league is slowly making me hate the legislators. I hate Goodlell.

  28. detroitlionstoronto says: Aug 8, 2013 2:28 PM

    Wow. LOL this league is turning into a circus show. So if a visiting team member spins the ball during the game, I guess he is screwed because there are “opponents” everywhere in the stadium? What a friggen joke. Let the players decided the games.

  29. kenny1976 says: Aug 8, 2013 2:35 PM

    Mark Sanchez could be in for a long season if hes the starter as often as he sends spinning footballs towards the opponents.

  30. jetsjetsjetsnow says: Aug 8, 2013 2:58 PM

    I’m sure their will be plenty of knumbskull players who screw a good play with spinning taunting penalties.

  31. filthymcnasty1 says: Aug 9, 2013 6:22 AM

    Teams should be penalized for taunting, unless they’ve won a legitimate championship.

    Hapless and tasteless teams should just go about their losing quietly.

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