It didn’t take a genius to see that the NFL’s point of emphasis on taunting was going to be a problem. Two weeks into the season it’s become the great unifier among football fans — a common cause we can all rally behind and hate on equally, because it absolutely sucks.
The worst thing in football is subjective penalties. Some of these like pass interference will always be unavoidable, but there was no reason to add one that wasn’t based on contact and football moves, instead focusing on a referee’s interpretation of what taunting is and isn’t. A total of 10 flags have been thrown this season for taunting, and Week 2’s most egregious examples are just sad.
Jordan Akins spun a ball … that’s taunting
Yes, this ball spin after making a catch — which didn’t seem directed at anyone, was a 15 yard penalty.
Ensuring a pass is incomplete and making the incomplete gesture? Taunting
Players have been doing this for YEARS. It’s the defensive back equivalent of signaling a first down, yet now it’s taunting.
Breaking up a pass and saying something? You better believe that’s taunting.
Sure, this is a little more egregious than the other examples, but penalizing stuff like this is just so weak. It’s at the point where celebrating at all is basically a penalty, heck, Tashaun Gipson of the Bears got a flag this week too … for clapping. Yes, clapping.
Meanwhile we’re seeing completely uneven application of the rule. Don’t get me wrong, the below clip absolutely should not be a penalty either — but if clapping and spinning a ball are examples of “taunting” then strutting backwards into the end zone should be as well.
If Deion Sanders was still playing in 2021 he’d cost his team 50+ yards a game in taunting penalties alone. Believe it or not, everyone in the NFL managed to somehow cope with Primetime flexing on them every chance he got. The league didn’t crumble, there was no anarchy.
The only thing the NFL loves more than stupidity is standing by its stupidity and refusing to admit they made a mistake. So, sadly we’re going to see more taunting penalties all season long — and they’re going to become more and more stupid.