The taunting rule now prohibits “posturing” at the opposing sideline, language of the rulebook be damned

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During the season, the most important employee in the league office is the one who helps explain controversial officiating decisions. Currently, that job is occupied by (checks notes) no one.

This week, the league tasked former NFL assistant coach Perry Fewell with basically reading from a teleprompter to review a handful of calls for less than two minutes — and for the first time this season. That package of plays included one of the most controversial calls of the year, the decision to penalize Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh for taunting in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s game at Pittsburgh.

Fewell provided a conclusory explanation of the play, explaining that referee Tony Corrente properly threw a flag because Marsh was “posturing” at the Pittsburgh sideline.

The relevant language of the rulebook prohibits players from “using baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams.” In April, Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay explained that taunting would become a point of emphasis in order to eliminate “the face to face, the pointing of fingers, the standing over players on the ground.”

Marsh did none of that. However, the league’s wagon-circling around Corrente’s bizarre call (and even more bizarre hip check) now makes “posturing” a penalty, language of the rulebook be damned.

Fine, then. “Posturing” is a foul. Good luck making that clear and understandable and consistently enforceable.

Posturing. Thou shalt not posture. What is posturing? Does it fit Potter Stewart’s “know it when you see it” definition? We’ll see.

But it’s not just “posturing,” apparently. It’s “posturing” at the opposing sideline that the rules now prohibit. Even if the rulebook doesn’t specifically address posturing of any kind.

It will be interesting to see how the rule is enforced going forward, as to calls made and not made. The problem is that the definition adds even more subjectivity into the decision-making process, allowing officials to have broad discretion that, depending on when and how it’s exercised, will make some think that the league wants to engineer a specific result, or that the NFL has a Tim Donaghy problem. Regardless of whether either thing is actually happening.

39 responses to “The taunting rule now prohibits “posturing” at the opposing sideline, language of the rulebook be damned

  1. Watt was blowing kisses to the Bears sideline.

    Rodgers told fans he (expletive) owns them.

    Marsh looked at the direction of the bench.

    Bad call. Nobody likes the rule. Get rid of it. Let them play.

  2. Thats the entire thing the nfl is trying to stop is flaunting it in the other teams direction. Celebrate all u want but no need to flaunt…these guys are professionals.

  3. Thats the entire thing the nfl is trying to stop is flaunting it in the other teams direction. Celebrate all u want but no need to flaunt…these guys are professionals.

    ——————-

    Professional football players should be allowed to celebrate their achievements. They’re human too.

  4. The NFL must ban uncontested flips into the endzone and those celebrations in the endzone posing for pictures is flaunting and taunting. Time to start demanding professionals act like they are professionals instead of 14 year old boys.

  5. The more rules that are vague and rely on “judgement calls” => the more the public will question if the outcome is predetermined.

  6. Come on. “using baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams” is EXACTLY what Marsh did. Playing coy with semantics is silly. What he did was 100% intended to piss off the other team, an “in your face” strut.

    Until these kinds of players learn that you haven’t accomplished something until you’ve won, this kind of nonsense will continue and (justifiably) be flagged.

  7. just watching the ravens hold and pull a wr jersey with no call on almost every passing play in the first half tells you theres some phantom calls coming miami’s way in the 2nd half

  8. Rather than imposing a new series of rules, players ought to be able to figure out for themselves what reasonable conduct is, like people do in every other workplace in America.

  9. The XFL fumbled the bag so hard when they tried to partner with the CFL instead of come back for a full season first. It would have been a breath of fresh air over this bogged down rules fest.

  10. I really don’t recall players in the good’ol days flaunting a good play as opposed to today’s players. Every catch or tackle is celebrated by today’s players like it’s the best play EVER done in the NFL. Just make the play and get back into the huddle.

  11. My god, the absolute hypocritical nature of the NFL. They are the stewards of the most physical, testosterone bursting sport there is and I think even non fans would agree with that sentiment. They for years have had programming and videos they actually sell about the biggest hits the toughest runs. The baddest men in all of sports often have been D Line, tough as nails Running Backs. QBs who made the throw in face of daunting pressure and physicality.
    And NOW, they presume to make it the NFL where emotion better dry up like rain in the sunshine the millisecond a play is complete. That celebrating what we all wait to watch and marvel at might make someone for a moment need to just emote, to yell like the guy that stands atop the hill in battle. Emotion is what has made, and will make this game continue to be just amazing and elicit so much fandom and make us scream and yell at our tvs. They seem to not even understand what makes their game great, and occasionally they can damage it with that lack of understanding. Fools

  12. the games are fixed by omission from Goodell’s office. Roger is apparently letting referees go rogue which is effect allowing for the (attempted) fixing of games which is normally thought of as a premeditated and coordinated act. It’s not, a rogue referee with an agenda and allowed by the clown’s office is just as much fixing as a coordinated premeditated effort.
    As for the hip check…the ref was trying to get into the path of the player hoping he would walk into him, then allowing the rogue referee to eject the player.
    The real issue here is Roger’s office doing nothing.

  13. Let’s be honest here this only exists because Corrente had some reason to overturn the sack…. and we all know it wasn’t for posturing. The hip check confirms that.

    I think in his panic to make right by the book his brain went haywire…but that’s just what I think may have happened.

  14. Don’t act like you don’t get it. Flexing, exaggerated staring, laughing, waving as you run by, etc.

  15. Whatever you want to call it, it deserved a penalty. It was one of the most outrageously blatant and ugly acts of taunting I’ve seen. It was directed toward the other team. I don’t see how any more clear it could have been. This is the exact thing the league is getting rid of, and rightfully so. There’s just no place in the game for it. It’s unsportsmanlike. It’s unnecessary. It’s ugly. What happened was they gave the players some freedom to express themselves after a play, but the players couldn’t control it and it got out of hand. They’re just reeling it in a little.

  16. Let me get this straight. You’ve got highly testosterone-filled athletes who are trained to the highest degree to hit the “enemy” hard and achieve a football play that is very difficult to do… and you want them to celebrate… but only a certain way that doesn’t hurt the other players feelings? Maybe you should just cancel the game and send them to EST training.

  17. Does anyone understand the amount of taunting/trash talking that goes on during every play??? Posturing insane!!!

  18. jonathankrobinson424 says:
    November 11, 2021 at 10:13 pm
    I really don’t recall players in the good’ol days flaunting a good play as opposed to today’s players. Every catch or tackle is celebrated by today’s players like it’s the best play EVER done in the NFL. Just make the play and get back into the huddle.
    ______________________________________________. You’ll also recall the NFL only making millions instead of billions in that era. Emotions are infectious and seeing players that express none will drain enthusiasm from fans. Its hard to watch people do something if it looks like they couldn’t care less about their actions.

  19. Do you know what isn’t taunting? Make the play and get back to your huddle or sideline. Marsh has nobody to blame except himself.

  20. beardownfromthefrontrange says:

    November 11, 2021 at 8:09 pm

    Watt was blowing kisses to the Bears sideline.

    Rodgers told fans he (expletive) owns them.

    Marsh looked at the direction of the bench.

    Bad call. Nobody likes the rule. Get rid of it. Let them play
    —————–
    You cant complain about a rule if you dont understand it. Rodgers yelling to the fans isnt a penalty because theres nonesuch thing as a penalty for taunting fans

  21. So, basically the nfl is making it up as they go along and don’t want to follow their own rules. This got them in trouble in 1982 with Al Davis and is now haunting them with St Louis. When are they going to learn?

  22. Either Corrente is “on the take” or Godell is trying to “direct” the playoffs! Look at what Watt was doing blowing kisses! Rodgers “I still own you” comment and tell me this is being applied equally to all teams. I say . . . . El Toro Poo Poo!

  23. When Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster clocked Burfict, and then stood over him, every one agreed that was definitely taunting and deserved to be called. But Ju-Ju was just ‘posturing.’ Would any of us really have been surprised if a Bengal player retaliated at that point and decked Ju-Ju? Marsh’s ‘posturing’ was no different. It’s intent was to put down and incite the entire sideline. If Ju-Ju had stepped away from Burfict there would be no penalty. If Marsh had ‘postured’ towards the fans or his own sideline, there would be no penalty. The problem is when the celebrating player’s actions are aimed at the opposing team instead of shared with his teammates.

  24. On the one hand, I don’t think it’s so hard for players to learn that any kind of post-play talking or gesturing has to be directed away from the opponents. On the other hand, this is yet another area for selective enforcement by the refs, in a season already full of questionable calls and non-calls. There were several times last night when the refs seemed to be engineering in favor of the Ravens. (I’m not a Dolphins fan.) Everybody sees what’s going on with the officials this season and it’s not good. It looks like there’s either an unprecedented level of incompetence or that they’re on the take.

  25. NFL = most popular and profitable sports entity.

    NFL = employs part-time and incompetent referees.

    NFL = creates rules that are obtuse and irrational

    What could go wrong?

  26. Marsh was out there celebrating a LONG time. When you get to the 3rd wave of celebration, and are the last defensive player to leave the field, you get what you deserve. Marsh has learned – but unfortunately, he may have cost his team a game.

  27. Woolly Man Mouth says:
    November 12, 2021 at 10:20 am
    NFL = most popular and profitable sports entity.

    NFL = employs part-time and incompetent referees.

    NFL = creates rules that are obtuse and irrational

    What could go wrong?

    6 1 Rate This
    **********************************************

    Actually, nothing is going wrong. Refer to your first point. Obviously everything is going right. Cha Ching!

    Part-time refs? That’s funny. I’m not aware of any Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday games. The same refs do every game. They’re full-time.

    Rules that are obtuse and irrational? No argument. Lol.

    The league knows what they’re doing. TV revenue is most of their income. TV ratings generate the huge TV deals. The refs, who are the best in the world, can do whatever it takes to ensure the maximum TV ratings. Things like avoiding blowouts on nationally televised games, or maybe helping manipulate which big market teams advance to the playoffs where every game is nationally televised. It’s a huge business. The NFL could get every call right if they wanted to. They’re just generating revenue. Apparently, a lot of people who pay the big bucks don’t want classless taunting piped into American living rooms. Whatever they’re doing is working, and they know their business very well. Again, refer to your first point. Most popular sports entity.

  28. The majority of us have no idea what it is like to play college football let alone pro football. For an athlete that loves the game and can take the pain, it has to be very exciting, thrilling even. So, if you don’t like players expressing themselves there is always the CFL and there will be the XFL. Maybe the XFL can hire He Hate Me as a sideline reporter or some such, ought to make you guys happy. If you don’t like it don’t watch. Geez, it really is that simple. Turn it off.

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