NFL sends memo and video to teams reiterating taunting, “posturing” ban

Cleveland Browns v New England Patriots
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The NFL won’t back down when it comes to its instance that players back away from their own human emotions during the game.

Via Kevin Seifert of, the NFL has sent a memo and a training video to all teams regarding the league’s ongoing emphasis on the longstanding taunting rule.

“Appropriate celebration, enthusiasm and sharing great moments with our teammates and fans is encouraged,” NFL senior vice president of officiating training and development Walt Anderson said in the video, via Seifert. “The emphasis by the NFL to discourage acts of taunting or disrespect, when you direct actions toward an opponent or his bench, will continue. Officials are instructed to call fouls on actions that demonstrate that disrespect.”

That’s fine, but the bar has shifted since the league first made taunting a point of emphasis for the second time since 2014. It’s not just the in-your-face stuff that is prohibited, but also “posturing” toward an entire bench.

“Avoid any actions where you approach an opponent or his bench and gesture, posture or otherwise demonstrate any verbal or physical form of disrespect,” Anderson said in the video, via Seifert. “Turn away. Take the opportunity to celebrate with your teammates and don’t put officials in the position of having to make a judgment about whether or not your actions rise to the level of a foul. Remove all doubt and don’t put yourself or your team at risk of a penalty.

So that’s the standard. Now, the NFL has to enforce it fairly and consistently. As explained on Thursday, another incident of “posturing” happened in Sunday’s Bills-Jets game, when Buffalo tackle Spencer Brown “postured” to the New York sideline. No flag was thrown.

It’s not just the posturing portion of the rule that’s being haphazardly enforced. Look at the second touchdown scored on Sunday by Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson. Under the bar the NFL has created, it should have been flagged — and it should be fined, same as the Cassius Marsh “posturing” penalty.

Apart from the wisdom of the rule (or lack thereof), it’s critical that it be enforced consistently. That’s as big of a problem, frankly, as the rule itself. It can’t be hit or miss. Taunting or “posturing” or whatever happens in plain view. The foul needs to be called when it happens or not at all.

14 responses to “NFL sends memo and video to teams reiterating taunting, “posturing” ban

  1. Yawn. Just another way for the league and big gaming to manipulate the outcome of games in their favor.

  2. Enforcement of the rule is inconsistent. What also confuses me is that it doesn’t extend to taunting fans. I’ve seen players taunt fans countless times this season. They do it all the time after scoring. They do it on the sidelines, as well. Why penalize player taunting, but allow taunting of fans? It’s all poor sportsmanship.

  3. “Appropriate celebration, enthusiasm and sharing great moments with our teammates and fans is encouraged,”
    Remember when team end zone celebrations were illegal? The player who scored could dance, but if a teammate joined in it was a penalty? Now players can show their emotion, but only in a way that is league sanctioned. So silly…

  4. There is really no reason to even have this rule. Any of this stuff gets fans fired up for each side and gooses up the atmosphere a bit. The players try harder when there is jawing and posturing. Dear NFL Suits: It’s entertainment you dummies.

  5. I see that the league is trying to make a clear distinction between taunting and celebrating with their words, but many situations aren’t that clear during a game. Marsh was at roughly midfield when he was flagged for “taunting the bench”.

    Frankly, I think they should call it “unsportsmanlike conduct” rather than taunting. I think officials should lean toward keeping the flags in their pockets unless something really blatant happens – more like player-to-player stuff, not this “taunting an entire team” thing.

    Like so many things they do, this is a ham-fisted effort by the NFL to focus on something that doesn’t need to be a point of focus. They’re just a hammer looking for nails.

  6. Guessing that video got chucked in trash before it was even viewed. The protected teams already know certain rules don’t apply to them to get favorable outcomes and the naughty list team already know that the uncle Tony and his fellow refs will do everything to ruin the game for those teams so need to watch the video.

  7. You say Stevenson was taunting after his touchdown but he could have been expressing annoyance that the defender was still pulling on his arm after he was in the end zone. Maybe the official was able to hear the interaction and knew that it wasn’t taunting.

  8. The solution is simple. No more gangs of excited and foolish millionaires running into the endzone to pose for the camera after making a play. No more using your arm to signal a first down after you barely made one. No more pounding your chest after you took a hit that should have been penalized while playing the former Snoopy Bowl winners. No more jumping off your feet and tumbling into the endzone when there is no one within three yards of you.

    I’m all for returning the game to a professional level for celebrations are banned and we expect grown men making millions to start acting like professionals instead of 12 year olds.

  9. The defender either grabbed Stevenson by the face-mask or just hit him in the head well after breaking the goal line for a TD.

    Stevenson did well to not get physical.

  10. Just enforce it consistently and I like seeing this.

    The childish things these guys do when they make a good play or score are often totally ridiculous.

    Especially when someone on a team that’s getting their head handed to them and is down 3 or 4 scores, and one of their players actually does something and then acts like he just won the Super Bowl.

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