Each year, before the start of the NFL Week 1, the league posts a video and a statement to their website containing updated rules for the upcoming season. In this year’s rule changes video, one rule change, in particular, has become a widely debated topic amongst fans, coaches and players – the no taunting rule. 

On their website, the NFL states that “the NFL Competition Committee receives and considers input from coaches, general managers, current players and NFL Legends, the NFL Players Association, medical personnel and the media, and conducts weeks of discussion and video study before recommending changes to any rule.”  However, after two weeks of play, the new regulation on taunting has not been widely accepted by most of the groups on the list.

After all, football is an emotional game, and sometimes, players can get caught up in excessive celebrating in front of their opponents. The NFL defines taunting as “any flagrant acts or remarks that deride, mock, bait, or embarrass an opponent.” The new rule aims to put an end to this type of display on the field — the guidelines are simple, concise and strict. “Two taunting penalties committed by an individual player will result in automatic disqualification. In addition, the taunting player may be subject to additional discipline depending on the severity of the action,” said the NFL.

On Sunday, the Seatle Seahawks‘ cornerback D.J. Reed received a penalty for taunting in the fourth quarter. Reed was seen yelling in celebration at A.J. Brown, the Tennessee Titans’ receiver after he was unable to reach a pass from QB Ryan Tannehill. The Week 2 match-up ended with the Titans coming from behind to earn a 33-30 win over the Seahawks.

After the game, Pete Carroll, the Seahawks coach, commented on the officiating and the new taunting rule. “I thought the game was called well,” he said. He believed that each of the ten penalties called against the Seahawks, which resulted in 100 lost yards, were called correctly and in alignment with the rule book. However, in Carroll’s opinion in respect to the new taunting rule, the NFL may be “opening a can of worms.”

“I don’t know how other teams are doing with it, but it hasn’t worked well for us so far,” Carroll said. “It’s clear what the rule is, and so we just have to react the right way. It’s the reaction of the player in the moment that we have to train and you have a lot of guys that have to deal with those explosive moments, and they’ve got to really turn their focus away from their opponents.”

Since the start of the season and the implementation of the new regulations, there have been ten penalties given. Two of those ten have been called on the Seahawks. Although this topic is being heavily debated after Week 2, the fact is that officials are strictly enforcing the new taunting rule, so players and coaches will have to adapt accordingly or risk penalties and ejections.


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