The taunting rule must go


When the NFL did a poor job of preparing fans and media for the seismic shift regarding the prohibition on taunting, we (foolishly) grabbed an oar in an effort to help the league explain what the rule is, and what it isn’t.

After a full season of the latest “point of emphasis” regarding a rule that has been on the books for years, here’s what it is: A mess. Here’s what it isn’t: Good for the game.

Many confused the ban on taunting as the elimination of celebration. It definitely is not. Players can still celebrate. They just can’t celebrate in the faces of their opponents.

It’s easy, in theory. It’s much more difficult, in practice. Sunday’s foul on Buccaneers defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh illustrates the biggest problem with the rule. Suh said something to former teammate (now Rams quarterback) Matthew Stafford because Suh believed Stafford kicked him. Suh, who ironically has been known to use a foot or two from time to time, wasn’t taunting Stafford. He was expressing disapproval over getting kicked.

The lesson for coaches and players continues to be clear. Direct nothing to any opponent, under any circumstance. Positive, negative, whatever, anything you say can and will be used against you.

But that’s stupid. It’s unrealistic. Football is a sport that thrives on human emotion. It evokes human emotion. How can players be expected to access those emotions in order to do their jobs and then to immediately flip the switch from on to off?

We gave it a year. We tried to understand. We’re done. We’re out. The rule is crap, and it needs to go.

73 responses to “The taunting rule must go

  1. The refs should be smart enough not to throw a flag for taunting unless it is clear taunting. Simply because the refs are incompetent doesn’t mean that the rules are wrong. The refs unevenly call holding penalties in every game that does not they should do away with holding penalties.

  2. Keep the taunting rule and continue strict enforcement while doing away with the choreographed celebrations. Just Play the Game!

  3. Your wrong it should stay ! If they didn’t have it we would be watching a West coast East cost rap battle on the field every week!

  4. Implemented because of the classless Bucs in the Super Bowl.

    I believe this is that Karma thing people talk about.

  5. Florio is the media of today. Nothing constructive to add and endlessly devise to society as a whole.

  6. It sure is funny we go the whole year and no article on the rule must go, now it happens to Tom Brady and here is the outcry about how the rule is so so unfair, WOW that didn’t take long…

  7. Suh was flagged because he not only voiced is displeasure with Stafford but he also pointed his finger at Stafford’s face. And, yeah, it is pretty rich that Suh was mad because someone else did something dirty to him given Suh’s long history.

  8. 100% disagree they need to have the rule just make the right calls. Dont be so random, we cam all see when its a correct penalty. The refs are power hungry sometimes.

  9. If you’re a GOAT perhaps petulance when you get popped in the most physical sport there is is the wrong way to go. Suh, eh he’s nuts I can vouch for. Brady’s 15 was well deserved and lesser QBs would’ve gotten that flag even quicker.

  10. Does any fan care if two players jaw at each other after a play? Can the fans even hear what they say? If it comes to blows or the refs can’t place the ball, then throw a flag for delay of game or personal foul. Otherwise let them play. We really don’t care, just keep the game moving and let them say what they want.

  11. I disagree,.. I like the rule. When SUH stuck his finger in Staffords face,… that was the mistake. It may have had something to do with his choice words too. But overall,… I like the rule.
    Is it perfect ? What rule “IS” perfect ?? P.I. ? Nope,… Holding ? Nope. But the rule does preserve some level of civility to a violent game. Another point,… kids emulate these guys. Including the gangsta mentality a few players have. The rule puts them in their place. Keep It.

  12. The problem with your point, Mike, is you have absolutely zero idea what Suh said. ZERO! Looked like taunt to me.

  13. A POINTless point of emphasis. Just like trying to take hitting out of the game. It hasn’t happened and never will.

  14. What it does is it allows the Goodell Cheating Refs to have another bullet in the chamber.

    Who decides what is “taunting” anyway?

    This is why baseball and hockey have codes. You go beyond the unwritten rule you get tuned up.

  15. Suh kept pointing (jabbing) his finger at Stafford in a threatening manner. That’s an easy taunting call.

  16. Totally disagree. Too many punks in the game – we don’t need all the BS. At least there is a rule in place to keep it to a minimum.

  17. Seriously?! The NFL still hasn’t figured out what constitutes a catch. They still can’t seem to figure out helmet to helmet (when the offensive player lowers his head to initiate it – it should be on the offensive player). But yes….let’s focus on the taunting rule. All because Tom Brady got upset.

  18. Look at the comments. We live in a society who no longer cares about rules. Stafford kicked Suh? So what. Seeing Suh get flagged makes the fans feel good. And that’s all they care about.

  19. If we’re going to let the taunting happen then we ought not be irritated when one player chokes another one.

  20. If the NFL is going to campaign for social justice, such as “inspire change, stop hate,” and every other cliche you can think of, then that should apply to the way players interact with each other on the field as well. The taunting rule must stay.

  21. Interesting job today by the refs…have seen roughing the passer penalties called for way less all year!

    As far as taunting… needs to go …full stop!!!

  22. the rules have become too complicated – what’s PI? what’s a catch? was it a QB fumble or incomplete pass? the league will have a reckoning in the future when they are forced to drastically simplify the rules because game outcomes will increasingly be determined by the subjective interpretation of officials versus the play on the field – sorry, but, on top of that, after years of attempts the use of technology has only hampered the effort and undermined the referee – yeah, let’s break it down in 4K ultra HD and replay it over and over nanosecond-by-nanosecond…. and scrutinize it for ten minutes, so we can find where the human eye missed something in a split-second…. every down in every game ever played can be overturned if you look hard enough

  23. Trash rule! Has no place in a grown man’s game! The people who pushed for this rule in the first place should be removed from the game and the HOF.

  24. Taunting needs to go, as do a host of other rules. Holding needs to clearly impact the result of the play, and should be 5 yards. False starts need to be limited to the center and for linemen actually taking a step. Get rid of ties. Oh, and full time officials with everything being reviewable.

  25. The rule wouldn’t be needed at all if the players knew how to control themselves. I don’t have a problem with the rule.

  26. If you disagree with the “Taunting Rules”,that’s fine….but hanging your hat on on what Suh did is another….he was clearly behaving outside of the boundaries of sportsmanship.

  27. “But that’s stupid. It’s unrealistic. Football is a sport that thrives on human emotion. It evokes human emotion. How can players be expected to access those emotions in order to do their jobs and then to immediately flip the switch from on to off?”
    Correction, it’s a sport that thrives on players who can control their emotion. Just as in every facet of life, sometimes it’s harder to bite your to tongue than others but that doesn’t mean your not supposed to/shouldnt try. Afterall there are 22 players on the field and in the majority of these instances 20 to 21 others seem to be controlling their emotions just fine.

  28. The lack of consistency in the interpretation of what is and what isn’t in the NFL by the officials along with reviewing every play has turned our beloved sport into something I don’t enjoy anymore.

  29. The most pathetic argument is “kids watch this game, we have to set an example!” You been to a public junior high lately???

  30. If I’m not mistaken the taunting rule came out of Mark Gastineau tackling some poor guy and then standing over him and roaring, throwing his arms around. Taunting is not arguing. I agree with Mike that they’re using that rule in the wrong way. It should go.

  31. Suh shouldn’t complain about anything, seeing how dirty a player he has been his whole career. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it, bub.

  32. richndc says:

    January 23, 2022 at 6:14 pm

    The most pathetic argument is “kids watch this game, we have to set an example!” You been to a public junior high lately???

    Although I agree that’s a pathetic argument, yours is just as pathetic. Why are you letting how they act dictate what’s right?

  33. The rule isn’t the problem it’s how officials can change outcomes by its arbitrary use.

  34. Exactly.

    Get rid of it now. And for God’s sake, don’t let it pollute the remaining four games.

  35. “stabkof2512 says:
    January 23, 2022 at 5:02 pm

    Keep the taunting rule and continue strict enforcement while doing away with the choreographed celebrations. Just Play the Game!”

    You’re the life of every party, aren’t you?

  36. But how else is the NFL supposed to make sure that popular franchises with star QBs somehow back into the playoffs? The refs need these arbitrary, game changing penalties to ensure the NFL gets high enough ratings for their sponsors.

  37. No, they need to keep, and possibly expand it. I’m already sick of entire defenses running to the end zone to celebrate after a takeaway. You can still have fun doing your job without disrespecting your opponent. Goes for offenses throwing 1st down signs when getting a first down. Do your job and go back to the huddle.

  38. Agreed. Too many snowflakes so easily offended. It’s a hard hitting game. Not played by the soft. Trash talking and verbals shouldn’t be hurting anyone’s feelings.

  39. Suh should NOT b a penalty! Some yes, but come on. It’s the playoffs. Give a warning. Brady’s prob. Done.

  40. Maybe the refs should have thrown a few ” body language ” penalties. Saw lots of negative body language today.

  41. Generally speaking, sports, games, society all do a lot better the less rules there are.

  42. The taunting rule is a good rule.

    The very first comment above by jg2040 is right on the mark.

  43. Love the rule. If everyone knew how to act in good taste, they wouldn’t need rules like this. It’s like if everyone knew when to drive and when not to drive, they wouldn’t need DUI rules. If everyone knew right from wrong, we wouldn’t need any rules. Zip. Zero. That’s a big IF.

  44. It’s always funny that people want to control football player behavior but cheer wildly when hockey players act like fools. Refs step back and let them fight!! If that happened in the NFL, fans would think the league should fold. It’s all hypocritical and we know why.

  45. Don’t pin this on the refs. They are only enforcing that which the league insisted they enforce and how the league insisted they enforce it. And the league is the owners plain and simple. They wanted the taunting rule enforced more and they got it.

  46. Dick Butkus would not even be allowed to play today. They have a sissified the game beyond recognition

  47. All year long on PFT’s comments section, fans have been complaining about the taunting penalties. But on this article, the one where Florio says it’s time to do away with the rule, thumbs up and down seem to indicate you all love the rule. I think that’s really peculiar.

  48. The taunting rule came out of Tyreek Hill last year with all his garbage racing to the end zone….but Karma got him in the Super Bowl when Whitefield Jr got even with him towards the bed if gane. IT WAS CLASSIC !

  49. And Tyreek Hill. The impetus for the taunting rule does it in the afc championship game and nothing? Have to love the NFL consistency. And I’m a pats fan….

  50. Want to change a rule. Overtime must guarantee a possession by each team. The answer is well then stop your opponent. Tonight neither team could stop the other. This was purely decided by the coin toss. Not a fan of either team tonight but the ending was totally a letdown

  51. Well said. It’s an unrealistic impossible to consistently inforce rule. Rules should be designed to make the game better, the opisite has happened with this rule in place.

  52. The problem isn’t the rule, it’s how it’s inconsistently enforced, which is par for the course for NFL officiating.

  53. I don’t think Suh was taunting? Looked more like he was threatening? lol

    As far as the Brady unsportsmanlike for yelling at the ref. He was upset about a noncall on Von Miller. Von Miller launched himself and hit Brady in the face mask with his helmet. Left his feet and launched. It was a pretty clear foul. I bet Miller gets fined for that hit.

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