Every season or two, the NFL implements a new rule, or puts emphasis on an existing one, and we see some jarring referee decisions around it to start the season. This season, the renewed emphasis on players taunting has fans and many NFL stars pretty furious.
The league is seeking to prevent cheap shots and large-scale brawls by cracking down on post-play taunts. Based on the reaction from fans and players, however, referees have been too heavy-handed in what they deem "taunting" in many situations. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are among those who've come out against how things have been called through two weeks.
Owners and coaches, like venerable veterans Bill Belichick and Ron Rivera, have been far more in favor of the enforcement, saying that they understand what the referees are trying to prevent. There is a good chance that enforcement is scaled back a bit as the year goes on, after the referees' point is made. That tends to be how these things go.
As of now, don't expect a change in the calls though. After serious Week 2 backlash, the NFL isn't backing off of its stance. According to The Washington Post, the NFL "has no immediate plans to have its competition committee intervene to modify enforcement of the rule."
"The enforcement by the officials is 'going as planned' despite the criticism, and the league believes 'players will adjust' to how the rule is being officiated as the season progresses, one of those people said Tuesday," Washington Post reporter Mark Maske added.
The NFL could be playing a dangerous game, though. If a team loses the game in part due to a questionable "taunting call," the push to change enforcement will only heat up.
The NFLPA, which only has one rep on the 11-person competition committee—the group behind this enforcement decision—has already railed against it. We'll see if referees dial things back, or it continues to be an infuriating issue going forward.