Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that he hoped the team could “get detailed clarity” on what will result in excessive celebration flags for wide receiver Antonio Brown after he received his second of the year in last Sunday’s game against the Chiefs.
Tomlin’s request comes after a weekend that also saw some question why Redskins cornerback Josh Norman was flagged for miming the shooting of a bow and arrow when other players have not been similarly penalized. Others have also questioned the rise in taunting calls — up 220 percent compared to the first four weeks of last season while all unsportsmanlike conduct penalties are up 56 percent, per ESPN — this season as the league’s decision to make it a point of emphasis has also seemed to stretch the definition of what qualifies as taunting.
During an appearance of NFL Network, NFL senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said that the league will send a video to the 32 teams in the near future in hopes of providing the kind of clarity that Tomlin was asking for.
“We certainly want the teams to have clarification and this isn’t a new issue,” Blandino said. “We’ve been dealing with this in the past. And so we’re going to send a tape out in the next week or so and clarify some of these things. But the key is if it’s a gesture that either mimics a violent act — that’s something with a firearm or a bow and arrow — or a sexually suggestive act, those are unsportsmanlike conduct. That’s … something that officials will flag. That’s direct from the competition committee and something that we’re going to try to be as consistent as possible.”
Blandino said the officials will not back off on the number of calls as the season progresses, which means players will have to adjust behaviors if they’re going to escape flags that could punish their teams at moments when things are going their way.