To the surprise of at least some fans and observers, the NFL hinted in April that officials could be encouraged to throw more flags for taunting penalties during the upcoming season after they allegedly failed to adequately enforce such rules throughout the 2020 campaign.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday that's the plan moving forward:
This is the video sent out today around the new strictly enforced taunting rules in games this season— PFF (@PFF) August 10, 2021
"The NFL Players Association, coaches and competition committee have all made a strong statement regarding respect among everyone on the field," competition committee chairman Rich McKay explains in a video detailing the league's new approach toward cracking down on instances of taunting. "We saw an increase in actions that clearly are not within the spirit and intent of this rule and not representative of the respect to opponents and others on the field. Game officials have been instructed to strictly enforce the taunting rules, and players and coaches are reminded that two taunting penalties committed by an individual player will result in automatic disqualification. In addition, the taunting player may be fined and/or suspended depending on the severity of the actions."
The NFL rulebook defines acts of taunting as those that include "using baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams," and "using abusive, threatening, or insulting language or gestures to opponents, teammates, officials or representatives of the League."
While nobody associated with the NFL will want to face a fine or suspension, coaches will likely be more concerned about players accidentally gifting opponents potentially game-changing automatic first downs during contests because actions that were ignored last fall will likely be penalized this season.
One would think the "No Fun League" would have more important things to worry about ahead of a second season held amid the COVID-19 pandemic: