Posted October 31, 2013

NFL looks at more severe penalties for pre-touchdown celebrations

Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams
Golden Tate's 'farewell gesture' to Janoris Jenkins attracted more attention that Tate would have preferred. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Golden Tate’s ‘farewell gesture’ to the St. Louis Rams’ defense attracted more attention that Tate would have preferred. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

RENTON, Wash. — One of the very few offensive highlights in the Seattle Seahawks’ 14-9 win over the St. Louis Rams on Monday Night Football was Golden Tate’s 80-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. As Tate was heading to the end zone, he took a little extra time to showboat, waving good-bye to a couple of Rams defenders. It was an unwise move for Tate  – he almost ran out of bounds, he was almost stopped before he got to the end zone, and he got an earful from head coach Pete Carroll when he got to the sideline.

And it didn’t take long for the NFL to take notice. Tate told me on Wednesday that he was fined for the taunt, which netted the Seahawks a 15-yard penalty on the subsequent kickoff. The league is now considering adding the college rule, which takes touchdowns off the board if taunting penalties are applied on scoring plays.

“A lot of people felt that the touchdown shouldn’t have counted, [but] a taunting foul is always treated as a dead-ball foul, meaning whatever happened during the play counts, and the foul is enforced on the next play, which would be the kickoff,” NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino told the NFL Network (via Pro Football Talk). “In college, this action would take back the touchdown. Tate started taunting at the 25-yard line. The college rule, that’s enforced at the spot of the foul, so they’d go from a touchdown to first-and-10 at the 40, which would be a gigantic penalty. The NFL rule, it’s a dead-ball foul, it’s enforced on the kickoff. But I’m sure that’s something that the Competition Committee will look at in the offseason.”

Understandably, most NFL players and coaches would not generally be in favor of this — starting with the head coach of the team involved, and the player in question.

“No, I think that’s a terrible thing to do,” Carroll said Wednesday. “I think it puts too much pressure on the officials to change the game like that. I don’t think that’s the time — the actions that the league took in this case were warranted — exactly. But I think that would be a terrible thing for an official … to put it on a back judge to decide whether to take a touchdown away in a game. It should not be a part of what an official has to call. Throw the flag, do the normal thing, and then take care of business afterward.

“Taking a look at that situation, and just to say it again — that’s not the way we want to present who we are and what we’re all about. It was a mistake that Golden has totally taken accountability for. We wish it wouldn’t have happened for a lot of reasons, and the statement he made and we make about it is clear. There’s no place for that in football. We don’t need that at all. He gets the regular scrutiny he should get, and he’ll take it.”

As for Tate, he was just ready to move along.

“Yeah, I definitely heard from the NFL — I definitely got fined, and I thought it should have been left at that,” he told me. “Days later, the national media’s still talking about that and still showing it … I made a silly mistake by waving by. I’ve seen guys in the past do that, and do way worse, and not get talked about for days and days and days after. I’ve taken full responsibility for putting my team in a hole, and I don’t need to draw that type of attention to my organization.”

Tate didn’t say how much he was fined, but the standard debit for a first offense in this case is $7,875, which is a decent enough hit for a guy making $630,000 in base salary in the last year of his rookie contract.

“Yeah – as of today, I’ve heard it from a few people that they’re thinking about it, and that’s fine,” Tate concluded, with a bit of frustration in his voice. “If they’re going to do that, do it and be done with it. But why are we still talking about it, guys? We’ve got another week of freakin’ football. Why is it being highlighted as being a bigger deal than it is?”

A simple answer, really — because it happened on Monday Night Football, and because the league has stepped in to opine on the subject. It’s fair to assume that Tate won’t do this again, but the next time someone does, Tate’s celebration will be the NFL’s “Exhibit A” in this case. Tate, who scored Seattle’s two touchdowns, should now have the opportunity to move along as the Seahawks get ready to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith, however, would be in favor of that new rule.

“I know it’s in the college rule, and I think it would eliminate those [taunting] situations,’’ he told ESPN.com’s Vaughan McClure on Wednesday. “If you take a touchdown off the board, that could be very, very critical in a football game. I would be in favor of it.

“There’s no place for it. After you’ve scored a touchdown, there’s time to celebrate. But until you’ve scored a touchdown, you’ve got to get in that end zone, first. I think there are a number of examples each and every year where guys maybe start doing something too early and lose the football and don’t score.’’

An interesting take from a man running a team with just 17 offensive touchdowns this season, to be sure.

12 comments
JimNoonan
JimNoonan

I think the rules are fine as they are: a post-game fine for the taunter and offsetting personal fouls for the taunter and whoever takes him out in the end zone after the play! 

thebigdawg3
thebigdawg3

NFL is unwatchable already.  NFL will be nothing within 10 years.

ChristopherHolmes
ChristopherHolmes

I don't condone taunting in any form, but if you're going to take a TD off the board, you better be prepared to take a sack off the board as well. 

There is no difference between an offensive player showboating a TD and  defensive player throwing a block party on the field after sack. Both acts serve the same purpose: to draw attention to one's self and to make the other guy feel bad. 

Fundamentally both acts are the SAME. They're both showboating. The NFL is a league of hypocrites, so I understand this will probably never change, but if the media and NFL are going to spend an entire week excoriating Tate for taunting, they need to start examining all the instances on the field when it is happening, and stop singling out receivers. 

rgoltn
rgoltn

The rule is fine as it stands.....So what if he taunted the Rams DBs.  We have no idea what they were saying to him all night.  We see one moment and make a judgement.  I am sure Finnegan and others were saying sh*t to him throughout the game and he had to get a jab back at them.  So what.  Give him a penalty, but do not take points back.  That is ridiculous.

JoyCook
JoyCook

He's a thug acting like a thug. Why the surprise?  

j7apple
j7apple

If you choke enough to let an 80 yard TD past you, you  should get taunted.  

Perhaps the NFL could put the player in a timeout chair as well for not playing nice.

Merv
Merv

No excuse for Tate, but why does it seem St Louis is involved in a lot of these taunting calls and comments by the teams they play?

Just watched Ellison taunt the DB chasing him on a long TD run from Sunday.  At the 5 yard line he slowed down and held the ball backwards at the chasing DB.  According to this stupid suggestion the Cards should have the TD annulled and penalized 15 yards, back to the 20 for it.

ThinkerT
ThinkerT

@ChristopherHolmes Except you changed thing there from "taunting" to "showboating". They're not the same thing. Taunting by definition is directed at individual(s), showboating doesn't have to be. So there's a possible distinction there (which they already make - this year you can be penalized for taunting but not showboating, and Tate was penalized).

Additionally, it also has to be distinguished whether the taunting has to occur prior to the event (sack or TD) or if afterwards counts as well. Much of Tate's taunting occurred before he scored, and typically with sacks the showboating occurs after the sack has happened.

willrwills
willrwills

@ChristopherHolmes Well, maybe fundamentally but not in execution.  I understand your point, however, to be the same as what Tate did, the sacker would need to stand in front of the QB and wave their hand in their face and taunt them.  Typically there's a celebration after a sack, but not usually an obvious in the QB's face taunt of the QB.  I think that's what's different here.  Golden Tate was so consumed in denigrating the CB that he nearly almost ran out of bounds before scoring.  That's over the top and poor sportsmanship.  Are there some celebrations that go too far on a stop or sack, sure.  But they typically are not as jerky as this.

YemiThaBassMan
YemiThaBassMan

@willrwills @ChristopherHolmes The fact that he didn't score a TD as a result of  his asinine behavior is penalty enough. He got ripped by  his coach, the level of respect and influence he had has taken a hit, and now he's got a rep.