The New NFL Taunting Rule: Why it’s so discouraging 

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Photo by Adrian Curiel on Unsplash

With the NFL season underway, fans can get excited about watching some football and speculating who will take home the trophy. But as an avid football fan, I have to speak up when I see acts that discourage the fun of watching the anticipated sport of football. This past Sunday was a clear example of that, as I watched penalty after penalty for infractions as simple as staring at an opponent’s bench the wrong way.  

The NFL’s new taunting rule has lit fans ablaze as they watch stupid penalties ruin the fun and excitement of football. “There’s virtually nothing we can all agree on on this app except that the NFL’s new taunting rule STINKS,” said NFL insider Field Yates on Twitter. While the problem of taunting might seem minor, it goes further when it begins to impact the momentum of games.  

The most notable of the new rule’s impact was felt on a game between the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans. With eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Seahawks cornerback D.J. Reed was able to stop Titans receiver A.J. Brown from catching a deep pass to the endzone. After the stop, Reed expressed his excitement for the impressive stop and quickly received a call for the referees due to unsportsmanlike conduct. While the Titans were still unable to score on that drive during the game, it was a call that helped shift the momentum toward Tennessee and allowed them to carry that momentum into overtime, where the team took a 33-30 win over Seattle. Safety Jamaal Adams had his take on the situation as a staple on Seattle’s defense. “We can’t have those penalties in crucial situations. Some are ticky-tack, it’s just like DJ Reed, and you know on the taunting penalty, come on, man, you’re taking the emotions and the passion out of the game of football,” said Adams. While the Seahawks were one of the primary teams affected by the new taunting rule, they were not the only team to get penalized. 

On a set of minor occurrences, the new taunting rule affected teams like the Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons.  

Surprisingly, coaches have had the opposite opinion of players on the NFL’s new taunting rule. Legendary New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick recently gave his take on the subject, saying, “In general, I don’t really think there’s a place for taunting in the game. I think that’s poor sportsmanship, and it leads to other things.” Co-owner and president of the New York Giants John Mara seemed to agree with Belichick on the subject, saying in a recent press conference, “It’s just the question of whether you can have rules that can be enforced without taking the fun out of the game, but nobody wants to see a player taunting another player.” With coaches and players having such varied opinions, the question of whether the NFL will cater to its players or remain with the current taunting standards remains to be seen. 

The discouragement of players attempting to play the game that they love so much and not express themselves as they please is genuinely a crime on the league’s part. The arrogance that it takes to remove the emotion from a game that needs it is absurd and infuriating. They’re doing themselves a considerable dissatisfaction as fans angrily turn off the game when taunting calls exhibited against DJ Reed are called on other players. If this call were to be done in a critical situation on a stage such as the Super Bowl, what would that do to help out ratings and increase viewership? It would only do the exact opposite. With the NFL losing over a million viewers in 2020, the league is attempting to gain back fan attention and money. The new taunting rule will only encourage a loss in viewership, money and the overall game of football. It’s time to do something about it and fast.  

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