Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera has a simple explanation for why the NFL is cracking down on players' taunting.
Think of the children, basically.
“Quite honestly, we don’t need the young people to see that,” Rivera said. “We don’t need the Pop Warner, peewee football kids seeing us act like that. We want to put it out there as professionally as possible.”
Some argue that the NFL - while "looking out for the children'' with its new emphasis on taunting penalties - is taking itself too seriously, and causing "NFL'' to stand for "No-Fun League.''
And in its real application? How exactly is the ref supposed to judge when a line has been crossed? As it relates to the Dallas Cowboys: Is Jaylon Smith's "Swipe'' a taunt''? Would Dez Bryant's "Throwing Up The X'' be a violation? How about Michael Irvin's vigorous first-down thrust?
Rivera, who is a member of the NFL’s Competition Committee, is trying to emphasize that the concept isn't about preventing celebrations - it's about avoiding taunting of another player in a way that leads to conflict.
“If you make a great play, great. Be excited, but don’t do it towards your opponent,” Rivera said. “That’s all we’re asking. That’s what the rule is for. Cause what we don’t want is an escalation of some things that have happened in the past.''
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Rivera said fighting is "not a good look for any sport ... somebody’s going to get hurt and you just don’t want that.''
There is probably a middle ground here. When Antonio Gibson scores a touchdown against the Cowboys, as he did last year, can he hold the ball in a way that calls attention to the Cowboys players unable to catch him?
Is that "celebrating'' or "taunting''?
It is Rivera's belief that by emphasizing it now, in the preseason, players and officials will find a sensible landing spot for what can and cannot be done.
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“If it happens, especially during the preseason, it’s a great time to do it,” Rivera said. “Just so the players understand what the referees are going to be looking for. ... That’s the emphasis ... that’s why everybody’s just got to relax, calm down. Let us go through this process of trying to make sure the players understand that, 'Hey guys, you can celebrate and can have a good time, but don’t taunt your opponent because we don’t want the retaliation in this league.”
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