Thou shalt not point and count.
The NFL’s obsession with taunting has morphed into a general prohibition on pointing at opponents. Yes, officials will now flag players for the simple act of sticking a finger in their direction, if only to count them.
And the league office will fine them.
Although Packers receiver Allen Lazard wasn’t flagged, he has been fined for pointing at and counting up the three Dolphins defenders who were taken out by Lazard on a block during Sunday’s game between Green Bay and Miami.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Lazard was fined $10,609 for taunting.
After Week Eight, Eagles receiver A.J. Brown was flagged and fined for pointing at and counting the two Steelers players who tried to keep him from scoring a touchdown pass.
Meanwhile, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones was fined $11,139 for taking out the knees of Bengals cornerback Eli Apple in an unnecessary and illegal maneuver that could have seriously injured Apple.
The similarity in punishment makes little sense.
In recent years, the league has emphasized taunting, with the goal of players not doing anything that could piss off an opponent — and in turn set the taunting player up for any sort of retribution later in the game. But there’s a line as to what does and doesn’t truly create resentment and a desire for revenge.
While Lazard did indeed count the three players he took out with one block, he was roughly four yards away from the closest one. He didn’t get in their faces or hover over them. He was simply celebrating the moment by showing the world that he took out three guys with one block.
The league is now showing him that its desire for players to instantly turn off their inherent humanity includes pointing and counting, from more than 10 feet away.
Lazard will appeal the fine. If any appeal of any fine is ever going to succeed, it should be this one.