Before the 2021 season started, the NFL announced that it was putting an emphasis on taunting fouls. Through the first two weeks of the season, there have already been 11 flags thrown for taunting.
It can be argued the NFL's stance on taunting penalties has negatively affected the actual product. Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera, however, isn't ready to write off the league's new rules just yet.
Rivera, who's a member of the NFL’s Competition Committee, said the emphasis on taunting fouls is supposed to eliminate any physical altercations from taking place.
“We’ve had this example where one guy taunts a guy and then the guy comes back for a little payback and the next thing you know, you’ve got a big fight on your hands,” Rivera said. “You’ve got guys coming from left field hitting each other. And that’s really what, to me I think, the referees are relevant for — they’re just trying to get it quieted down. And that’s really what — I mean, you can do the celebration. They sent a tape out explaining exactly what’s taunting and what’s not. I think if you look at the tape and you follow the tape, then it makes sense."
Last month, Rivera said the NFL wanted to get rid of taunting because it's a bad look for the players and the league.
“We really don’t because it is not a good look,” he said in August. “Quite honestly, we don’t need the young people to see that. 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.”
Well, it sounds like Rivera's stance on this subject has slightly changed.
"I mean, I’m all for the celebrations. Remember, we [with the Panthers] were the 2015 team that everybody was mad at because we were dabbing and stuff like that, taking pictures on the sideline," Rivera explained on Tuesday. "So, you want these guys to keep their personality. You want them to be who they are because these guys are explosive players that make dynamic plays. But the intent is so that somebody doesn’t do something that gets somebody to come back with a little retribution. You don’t want that. You don’t want somebody out for revenge. That’s what we’re trying to prevent."
Hopefully, the NFL can find a happy medium between avoiding brawls and allowing players to express themselves.