The response has become damn near Pavlovian.
It goes like this. An NFL player draws a foul for taunting, and then Twitter explodes with shouts of “NO FUN LEAGUE!”
Setting aside for now the question of why witnessing taunting makes football more “fun” for anyone, resisting the rule at this point is futile. The league has created it. The league has made enforcing it a point of emphasis. Multiple coaches have defended it, loudly. So when, for example, a player like Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire points directly at an opposing player on his way to the end zone, yes, a flag will be thrown.
It’s simple at this point. You may hate the rule (I definitely hate the high “thou shalt not posture to the entire sideline” bar that was created to justify Tony Corrente’s Gran Torino moment against Cassius Marsh from two weeks ago), but it’s the rule. Like every other rule. No holding. No pass interference. No jumping across the line of scrimmage before the snap. And no taunting.
The real question is whether the rule will be applied consistently and fairly. The Week 10 games included a couple of incidents of taunting that weren’t flagged; per a league source, Bills right tackle Spencer Brown wasn’t fined for posturing aggressively toward the Jets sideline, and Patriots running back Rhamdondre Stevenson wasn’t fined for getting in the face of a Browns defender after a touchdown.
That’s the challenge moving forward. Flagging it whenever it happens. Punishing it consistently or not at all. At this point, it’s not unreasonable to expect it to not happen. The league has decided that, for whatever reason, it doesn’t want these behaviors.
Meanwhile, be glad that the league has yet to embrace the college rule that, if applied to Edwards-Helaire, would have taken his touchdown off the board because the taunting happened before he entered the end zone. As the powers-that-be hear more and more criticism about the current taunting rule, there’s a chance they’ll become sufficiently tone deaf to expand the rule to potentially erase the outcome of a given play.