Ron Rivera on taunting penalties: You can celebrate, but we’re trying to prevent a brawl

Cincinnati Bengals v Washington Football Team
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As one of the members of the NFL’s competition committee, Washington head coach Ron Rivera has a say in the points of emphasis for officials during the season.

Through two weeks, the emphasis on taunting fouls has drawn significant criticism — including from NFL players association president J.C. Tretter. So far, officials have thrown 11 flags for taunting, which is the same number of taunting fouls that were handed out in the entire 2020 season. Even Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said that while point of emphasis was a good thought, it’s hard to manage it.

On Tuesday, Rivera addressed some of the criticism by saying the purpose of the point of emphasis was to prevent small things from becoming big issues.

“We’ve had this example where one guy taunts a guy and then the guy comes back for a little payback and the next thing you know, you’ve got a big fight on your hands,” Rivera said, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. “You’ve got guys coming from left field hitting each other. And that’s really what, to me I think, the referees are relevant for — they’re just trying to get it quieted down. And that’s really what — I mean, you can do the celebration. They sent a tape out explaining exactly what’s taunting and what’s not. I think if you look at the tape and you follow the tape, then it makes sense.

“I mean, I’m all for the celebrations. Remember, we [with the Panthers] were the 2015 team that everybody was mad at because we were dabbing and stuff like that, taking pictures on the sideline. So, you want these guys to keep their personality. You want them to be who they are because these guys are explosive players that make dynamic plays. But the intent is so that somebody doesn’t do something that gets somebody to come back with a little retribution. You don’t want that. You don’t want somebody out for revenge. That’s what we’re trying to prevent.

“And, again, whether we want to [be] or not, we are examples. We’re role models. So if you’re going to do something, do it within the rules. Get up and do your ball drop, do your dab, or your dance, or whatever. But don’t do it toward somebody. Don’t step over somebody or drag your leg over somebody. That’s what we’re trying to prevent.”

Rivera added that players can still do all kinds of things to celebrate — as long as they’re not directed at an opponent.

“Guys intercept [a pass] and run all the way down to the end zone — that’s fine,” Rivera said. “We’re not trying to stop the players from having fun. We’re just trying to make sure we don’t end up with a brawl on our hands. Because that’s the other thing, we don’t want that. This is a great sport. We’ve got a great fan base. People enjoy watching the games. And there are some that like watching the fights, but we don’t need the fights. We really don’t. And we don’t need anybody getting hurt unnecessarily.”

The problem becomes that sometimes what might initially look like taunting really isn’t — so the point of emphasis puts all opposing player interactions at risk. So until anything changes, players have to be cognizant of the fact that any gesture that appears directed toward an opponent could cost his team 15 yards.

30 responses to “Ron Rivera on taunting penalties: You can celebrate, but we’re trying to prevent a brawl

  1. A brawl for kids playing a game, if they cannot hold back on a football field why to we believe off the field they are any better

  2. Every celebration is a bit of taunting, it is sort of why you are celebrating. We want the players to play with emotion but don’t want any emotion that makes us feel uneasy. This was never a pretty game of thank yous and excuse mes. It is a game of human confrontation. You line up to beat the person across from you.

  3. I get it. Taunting and celebrating are two different things. Shouldn’t be teaching kids to taunt.

  4. Oh goody another teaching moment from Mr Rivera neighborhood.

    The NFL is trying to fix a problem that largely has no real impact on the product. This seems more like a faculty lounge type thing.

  5. “Shouldn’t be teaching kids to taunt.”

    That’s kinda hard when it’s allegedly college-educated grown men acting like little boys on a playground. THEY are the ones who need to the teaching.

  6. Yeah right. The only reason taunting even became an issue is because John Mara made it one on the competition committee, after he got tired of his god-awful team being taunted mercilessly every week for the past 5 years.

  7. I think players still want to give that little payback to the other team when they run to the end zone and dance and pose for the cameras.

  8. I miss the old celebration rules. Players celebrated at times, but didn’t act like buffoons and make organized cringe team celebrations.

  9. It’s the National FOOTBALL League. It doesn’t even matter what they call it, it’s the football that everyone loves. They tried starting a new league, the XFL, and they were going to show the NFL how to have fun. We’re still waiting. I suggest if guys are more interested in running their mouths after the play, they should try to form a new league. Maybe they’ll teach the NFL something about having fun. I’m not investing in that league, but maybe they should pass the hat around and get donations from all the people that like all the extra curricular stuff. Put your money where your mouth is. Just leave the NFL alone. They do pretty well with generating revenue, and they have a big worldwide audience. It ain’t broke. No need to fix it.

  10. I haven’t seen an NFL brawl in years. You see them in other sports, but not the NFL. Careers are too short & they don’t have guaranteed contracts. Riverboat Ron sounds a lot more like Corporate Company-man Ron.

  11. These judgement calls are never applied equally. So far Seattle has been called at least 2 times for taunting. They aren’t reviewable. Game 1, DK and a Colts player jawed at each other for a minute after a play. The Colts player hit Metcalf’s facemask, then shoved him. DK got called for taunting. So if the point is to avoid a brawl, why not flag the guy who actually took a swing? Isn’t hitting and shoving after the play a lot more likely to cause a brawl?
    Game 2, DJ Reed was called for what looked like maybe a word to a receiver after a pass break-up. It was 3rd down and long, and he’d just prevented the conversion. But by the letter of the rule, it was a 15 yard penalty. Was a brawl eminent? I sure didn’t see it.
    If we’re really worried that celebrating is hurting the feelings of player so much that they have to act out in violence, perhaps we should provide counselors on the sidelines to help them deal with their feelings. Show me on this doll where the bad DB hurt you…

  12. I doubt we’ll have the opportunity to do the taunting this week in Buffalo…just please try not lose by more than 21 eh…?

  13. Yeah, cuz brawls were such a problem before the point of emphasis. They’re PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES.

  14. cheeseburger says:
    September 21, 2021 at 6:20 pm
    Riverboat Ron didnt taunt with the 85 Bears!

    He didn’t need to with Ditka & Buddy Ryan around. Two of the biggest curmudgeons in NFL history.

  15. Got to give Ron credit, between this and the COVID stuff he’s a good company man, he will get a cush position in the league office when he retires from coaching.

  16. Why don’t they stop hockey players from celebrating when they score a goal.

    Some of them are overboard as well. Is that not taunting as well ?

  17. I don’t know about you guys but when I’m playing basketball with friends or even in our fantasy football league. All we do is tuant each other. It’s fun and part of the game. If someone can’t handle it it’s on them.

  18. How many “brawls” were there before this nonsense? Talk about creating a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

  19. To pile on, yes “all” those brawls…. There’s like 1-2 fights a year, and it’s between 1-2 guys. You act like teams regularly get into full on team fights. It’s never happened. If they can’t control themselves, pay them less money. They’re adults!

  20. Ron Rivera with a healthy dose of verbal vomit that made zero sense. As someone commented earlier this seems like a rule to fix something that was never broken.

  21. Myles Garrett slugging Mason Rudolph with his helmet is still fresh in everyone’s minds. It could have been much much worse. By instituting these taunting rules, the NFL is hoping to give the players pause before they do something like that.

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