NFL provocation: Ron Rivera explains why the competition committee made a rule
Did it work as expected?
As we all expected, the NFL’s new emphasis on taunting was a disaster in the first two weeks of the season. For context: the league announced in August that it was asking officials to “strictly enforce the rules on taunts” in the interest of making a “strong statement about respect among all on the pitch.”
It seemed like a bad idea when it was first announced, and the first results were as horrific as one would expect. Basically, any interaction between members of the opposing teams is enough to earn a 15-yard penalty, as shown in this video:
The fans hate it. Gamers hate it. So why is the league doing it? Washington coach Ron Rivera is one of the few who can provide insight into the rationale for the crackdown. He’s one of three coaches who, along with two owners, two team presidents and two general managers, make up the NFL’s competition committee, which has recommended focusing on taunting. He was asked on Tuesday why he supported the new emphasis on taunting and said it was about limiting retaliation.
“We are trying to prevent more important things. We had this example where a guy makes fun of a guy and then the guy comes back for a little rematch and the next thing you know you got a big fight on your hands, ”Rivera said. “You got guys from left field hitting each other. And that’s really what, for me, I think, the referees are relevant for – they’re just trying to calm things down. And that’s really what – I mean, you can celebrate. They sent a tape explaining exactly what is laughing and what is not. I think if you watch the tape and follow it that makes sense.
“I mean, I’m all for the celebrations. Remember, we [the Panthers] were the 2015 team that everyone was mad at because we were dabbing and stuff like that, taking pictures on the sidelines. So it’s about… you want these guys to keep their personalities. You want them to be who they are because these guys are explosive players who make dynamic games. But the intention is that someone doesn’t do something that brings someone back with a little retribution. You don’t want that. You don’t want someone to take revenge. This is what we are trying to prevent.
“And, again, if we want to [be] or not, we are examples. We are role models. So if you’re going to do something, do it right. Get up and drop your ball, do your dab, or dance, or whatever. But don’t do it to someone. Don’t step on someone or slide your leg over someone. This is what we are trying to prevent.
“We’re not trying to stop the players from having fun. We’re just trying to make sure we don’t end up with a fight on our hands. Because that’s the other thing; we don’t want that. It’s a great sport. We have a large fan base. People like to watch the games. And there are some who like to watch the fights; but we don’t need the fighting. We really don’t. And we don’t need someone to be hurt unnecessarily.
Rivera is correct that the league should try to eliminate fights, but are the interactions that drew taunt flags in week 2 really the kind of thing that starts fights? Usually when you see a fight in the NFL, it’s because of unnecessary physical contact, like a late hit or a push after play. this fights compilation starting in the 2020 season and you won’t see a single jaw-triggered one. The intention behind the emphasis on taunts may have been right, but it created more problems than it solved.
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