It’s an explanation, if not a satisfying one
The biggest question people were asking after the NFL announced its crackdown on taunting—and especially after the outrageous taunting call on Colts running back Benny LeMay on Sunday—was why the league felt it necessary to enforce the rule more strictly in the first place. Now, we have an answer.
Giants owner John Mara, one of the members of the NFL competition committee that was responsible for the anti-taunting changes, spoke with the media on Tuesday and was asked about the discussions the committee had that led to their decision.
“That’s something we discuss every year in the competition committee,” Mara said. “We get kind of sick and tired of the taunting that does go on from time to time on the field. We tried to balance the sportsmanship with allowing the players to have fun and there’s always a fine line there, but none of us like to see that. It’s just a question of whether you can have rules that can be enforced and without taking the fun out of the game too, but nobody wants to see a player taunting another player. I know, I certainly don’t. I think the rest of the members of the competition committee feel the same way, too.”
“Nobody” wants to see taunting? As I’ve written before (I can’t believe this is the third time in a week that I’m writing about taunting), I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a certain amount of taunting, and I suspect the majority of NFL fans agree with me. But the competition committee isn’t made up of fans, it’s made up of older guys who have spent the majority of their adult lives in the NFL. It consists of two owners, two team presidents, two general managers and three head coaches, the youngest of which is 49-year-old Mike Tomlin. It’s a reasonably diverse group, but by design it’s out of touch with the people who play the game and the people who watch it.
The members of the competition committee are not the kind of guys who are going to be able to correctly determine where the fine line between fun and sportsmanship that Mara mentioned should be drawn. As much as they like to think otherwise, owners and team presidents are not the people who make the NFL. It’s the players and fans. If the rule is enforced as strictly as it sounds like it will be, the players and fans are going to let the suits hear about just how wrong they were.
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