Posted August 06, 2013

Off the Snap: NFL officials plan to crack down on taunting

Against The Rules, Carolina Panthers, Off the Snap, St. Louis Rams
A known celebrator, Steve Smith could be subject to penalties with the NFL cracking down.

A known celebrator, Steve Smith could be subject to penalties with the NFL cracking down. (Rick Osentoski/AP)

Catching you up on the latest must-read news and analysis from around the web …

• The NFL is tired of players celebrating inappropriately after successful plays and scoring plays, and its officials have evidently been charged with controlling this increasing “menace.” Section 3 of the league’s rule book outlines the behavior that will be penalized, under the banner of Unsportsmanlike Conduct:

“Sack dances, home run swing, incredible hulk; spiking the ball; spinning the ball; throwing or shoving the ball; pointing; pointing the ball; verbal taunting; military salute; standing over an opponent [prolonged and with provocation]; or dancing.”

These moves are also verboten:

“Throat slash; machine-gun salute; sexually suggestive gestures; prolonged gyrations; or stomping on a team logo.”

The updated rule book actually came out before the 2012 season, but as officials are making the rounds to NFL training camps to explain new rules and changes in emphasis like they do every year, they’re telling players that they’ll be watching celebratory behavior more closely.

Some players, like receiver Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers, are working on alterations to their celebrations. Smith considers the ball spin to be his signature move, and he said on Monday that when it comes to avoiding penalties, “We’re working it out.”

It’s easy to understand why the NFL is trying to legislate as much violence out of the game as possible, but the limitation of expression seems archaic at best. Football is an emotional game, played under pressurized conditions, and any victory over the inherent difficulties involved will lead to a reaction. “No Fun League,” indeed.

• Analyst Mike Mayock of the NFL Network, one of the most highly-respected tape mavens in the business, said yesterday on the NFL Network that St. Louis Rams rookie receiver Tavon Austin might be “the most explosive player I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“He’s almost impossible to cover in short spaces,” Mayock said of the former West Virginia star, who the Rams traded up to take with the eighth overall pick. “So the ways you can use [him] are basically only constrained by the imagination of your offensive coordinator.”

Austin has the potential to present the kind of matchup nightmares one rarely sees, because he’s just about impossible to catch when he’s free in the open field. For the Rams’ offense to jump it up a few notches and quarterback Sam Bradford to finally realize his potential, Austin will have to play a big role.

“Clearly there’s a lot you can do with him,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said of Austin soon after he was drafted. “He’ll start off as that slot receiver, but it doesn’t end there. There’s a lot of different things you can do with him. He can stretch the field. The 4.28 [speed] is real. That itself creates some problems. He’s got excellent hands. He’s quick out of the break. He understands and likes football. He’s going to be really fun to watch.”

• Speaking of NFC West rookies, one scout recently told Arizona Cardinals broadcaster Ron Wolfley that defensive back Tyrann Mathieu is “pound-for-pound, the best player on the field.” One offensive coach told Wolfley that Mathieu was going to “change the team.”

There’s no question about Mathieu’s raw football ability — like Austin, Mathieu is a rare athlete who can upend a lot of gameplans if he’s used correctly. But Mathieu lasted until the third round of the 2013 draft because he’s got a long and complicated history of off-field behavior. He was booted off the LSU team before the 2012 season after failing multiple drug tests. But he was able to put himself back in the minds of NFL personnel people when he showed up at the 2013 scouting combine and amazed with a workout that proved to be one of the best that week.

“I didn’t have everything together back in college,” Mathieu said at the combine. “I had everything together as far as football, but when it came to my social life, my personal life, I didn’t have everything intact. I didn’t have my emotions intact. Spiritually, I wasn’t intact. Once you take football away, you are able to work on the person. These last six months, that is all I had was Tyrann the person. I attacked the person, I attacked my issues. I think that is why I am here at the combine … Back when I was the Honey Badger, I didn’t have everything intact. Going forward, I am going to focus on being Tyrann Mathieu, and that is the person I want to control right now.”

So far, so good. Mathieu has played multiple defensive back roles in Todd Bowles’ defense. We’ll soon see how he’s able to transition to the pros in all sorts of ways.

24 comments
Washheightsboy
Washheightsboy

So dropping trow', squeezing a deuce on the opponent's logo, and then signing it with a Sharpie to celebrate a sack isn't allowed?  I spent all off season practicing the deuce part.

Mike26
Mike26

The NFL will still allow military salutes (JJ Watt, others) provided they are not directed at opposing players/coaches.

SanteeJack
SanteeJack

Blame it all on Billy "White Shoes" Johnson.

Craig
Craig

There's a huge difference between celebrating a score and taunting the other team.  We all know it.  Some of this makes sense...dancing on the logo for example.  The sack dance can't help but be taunting, simply because it's done in the other team's backfield, most often while the O line is trying to help the quarterback up.  THAT I can understand.   But after a score?  Heck, let them be people and celebrate.  I'd call it if there was something "in your face" like turning and holding out the ball while running the last five yards or the "you can't catch me" stuff.  Beyond that...what the heck?

OswaldoLe'mon
OswaldoLe'mon

No more acting like gangstas after you make a tackle.

TobyLynnJones
TobyLynnJones

I'm tired of a player celebrating as if he just won the Super Bowl after a routine tackle, I don't mind touchdown celebrations

UleNotknow
UleNotknow

How about a thank-you note to the opponents. Would that pass muster? PC does NOT belong in football - or anywhere else for that matter.

geewhiz
geewhiz

Cmon...the military salute?  I mean wow, what an OFFENSIVE CELEBRATION !!!  /s

closetjaysfan
closetjaysfan

Maybe the nfl should come out with a list of approved celebrations since the other list is getting so long:

1) Quietly say "yessss" to yourself so that no one else can hear.

2) High fives, provided they are conducted in the locker room at halftime or after the game.

3) Dancing as long as it doesnt involve the movement of body parts.

4) "Dunking" on the uprights is permitted if the ball is dunked over one of the actual posts instead of the crossbar.

5) Clapping to yourself or other teammates is allowed if it is clearly a "golf clap".

6) Spiking is allowed if the ball is carefully placed using 2 hands into the hands of the referee and does not make any contact with the ground.

7)  "Lambeau leap" is permitted if the player does not leave his feet and does not enter the stands or make contact with fans.

 

ITATTRACTS
ITATTRACTS

Non issue. Let them have fun, along with the fans. The league worries more about meaningless things that actual issues that affect players. 

mystafugee
mystafugee

So to all the people who think the players should just hand the ball back to the ref.  I suppose fans should just sit in their seats and mildly applaud.  It's not as if they've never seen a touchdown before (unless of course you're a Jaguars fan). 

joe6647
joe6647

No more taunting, but take all the HGH you want and we may or may not catch you

JakeFromStateFarm17
JakeFromStateFarm17

Anybody complaining about this, come week 1 will be found in the place they usually watch NFL games

JimKirkwood1
JimKirkwood1

College football tried to do this and came off looking really bad. It is natural -and not disrespectful- to celebrate after a great play. Taunting is different. Celebrate with your teammates, but stay out of your opponents' faces

AB.JITSU
AB.JITSU

Yup. The No Fun League at it again.

Bhopx
Bhopx

The No Fun League strikes again.

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

These signature celebrations are really unnecessary and I couldn't care less if they are allowed or not.  Earl Campbell and Barry Sanders showed a great deal of humility when they played.  They scored a touchdown and just handed the ball to the official and went back to the sideline.  They did their job, they felt no reason to celebrate like it was the best thing they had ever done in their life.  

People want to act like the Niners and Hawks are far above and beyond better than the Rams and Cardinals.  This year everyone will find out that is not true.  It is going to be the most competitive division in the NFL and a lot of fun to watch it play out .

Charvel
Charvel

Wow... really??? I can understand getting rid of excessively long displays (The Icky Shuffle)... but spinning the ball??

muser
muser

I read these headlines and laugh...the NFL has murderers, thugs and endless arrests. It has scores of brain injured former players. But THIS is where they need to make changes....

What kind of people still watch this league?

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@ITATTRACTS How is it a non-issue to you if you are making a point for one side of the argument?

AB.JITSU
AB.JITSU

Icky shuffle = dumbest all time celebration.

LeeCooper
LeeCooper

@muser 


its an older post of 2011, but you still kinda get the idea of the demographic