Arguably the most controversial aspect of the first two weeks of the 2021 NFL season has involved the league keeping its previous promise to crack down on actions deemed to be taunting of opposing players.
Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera, a member of the NFL's competition committee, spoke out in favor of the league's enforcement of rules related to taunting on Tuesday, and Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports "there are no immediate plans" for the NFL to change its stance regarding such 15-yard penalties.
The NFLPA and others have been critical of the taunting penalties in the season's first two weeks. But there are no immediate plans for the NFL competition committee to intervene and consider an in-season tweak to the taunting enforcement, sources say.... https://t.co/jKReR2DTZN— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) September 22, 2021
Members of the NFL competition committee have not discussed the regular season taunting enforcement, sources say, and the league has not asked the committee to consider an in-season modification. The committee made an early-season tweak in 2018 to roughing-the-passer enforcement. https://t.co/KsTTV1howJ— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) September 22, 2021
The league and competition committee appear satisfied at this point with the officials' taunting enforcement and believe players will adjust to how the rule is being officiated as the season progresses. There have been 11 taunting penalties called in two weeks, eight in Week 2. https://t.co/zKuQh0iEd3— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) September 22, 2021
Even without intervention by the competition committee, the NFL's officiating department could direct officials to apply the taunting rule differently, if it wants. But there's no indication that's in the works at this point, either. For now, it's on teams and players to adjust. https://t.co/OsHkX1MxzG— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) September 22, 2021
Rivera explained Tuesday the NFL is merely attempting to eliminate acts of retaliation that, in the past, have resulted in brawls among players during games. As Rivera and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noted, players are permitted to celebrate accomplishments such as touchdowns and sacks as long as such actions aren't directed at an opponent.
Players shouldn't be surprised by what's occurred since the start of the regular season, as it was known back in April the competition committee believed NFL referees had become "too lax in taunting." In short, such penalties will only disappear if players adjust how they react to events on fields during games.