NFL officials have been visiting training camps and reminding players about new rules and important points of emphasis for the 2013 season, and one of those points of emphasis will be strict enforcement of the rule against taunting. In the league’s rule book, one of the examples of illegal taunting is the “military salute.”
The military salute happens to be the way Texans defensive end J.J. Watt celebrates his sacks, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be penalized if he does it this year. The NFL will only crack down on military salutes, spinning the ball and other types of celebrations if those celebrations are specifically directed at opposing players. And Watt wants to make it clear that when he salutes, he does it toward the crowd in recognition of members of the military watching the game.
“I do my salute as a sign of respect and appreciation to the military,” Watt told the Houston Chronicle. “When I was in Afghanistan [on a USO tour] I had soldiers tell me they appreciated me showing them respect. That’s what it’s for.”
Watt said it would be “a bad deal if they’re going to take away something I’m trying to show respect to the people who protect this country,” but he doesn’t have to worry. As long as Watt doesn’t get in the face of the quarterback he just sacked when he gives the military salute, the NFL says he can keep doing it.