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Week 4 officiating video: How taunting is ruled


NFL senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino released his weekly officiating video for week 4 (video below).  A majority of the video goes into great detail about what does and what does not constitute taunting.

Through four weeks, the NFL has flagged 16 instances of taunting and 19 unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in 63 games. If a player is flagged for two unsportsmanlike penalties in specific categories, they are removed from the game.

We’ve covered extensively what taunting is here and here, but it’s anything directed at an opponent that violates the “generally understood rules of sportsmanship.” Blandino added:

“Anything directed at an opponent will be a foul for taunting … Player-to-player –  whether that’s a gesture, verbal, anything aggressive in your face, spiking the ball, spinning the ball at an opponent  –  is taunting.

Blandino stressed that officials are not trying to legislate celebration and emotion, but anything violent, sexually suggestive, or that violates the generally understood rules of sportsmanship will be flagged under the unsportsmanlike penalty rule. On gestures, he stated:

Anything that mimicks a violent act will be a foul. The throat slash: that’s a foul. Anything that mimicks weaponry, whether that’s shooting, firearms, bow and arrow. It may seem nitpicky, but we’re trying to remain consistent and give the officials consistent guidelines.

A celebratory dance, as long as it’s not choreographed with another teammate is perfectly legal, as are team celebrations. Officials will not penalize the emotional part of the game. Also, spiking and spinning the ball is fine if it’s not directed at an opponent, as is taking a bow, a hand salute, or going to the ground on a knee in prayer. However, players may not go to the ground and use the football as prop in a celebration like laying on a pillow or rocking the ball to sleep like a baby. Players may also just simply hand the ball to the official.

Blandino added that the league has an interest in maintaining standards of decency and do not wish to influence the youth who play football who may see these acts and think they’re okay.

Lastly, the video covered the catch rule again. Briefly, Steelers wide receiver Sammy Coates caught a touchdown pass and appeared to gain control going to the ground, he did not get two feet down, however, it appeared his right leg above the ankle could have hit the ground as he was going out of bounds. Blandino stated that a call on the field stands because of this possibility.

Photo:  Garrett Campbell/Washington

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9 thoughts on “Week 4 officiating video: How taunting is ruled

  1. Dean Blandino and roger Goodell must go. They are killing the best game.

    I hope the owners are paying attention. Ratings are down for a host of reasons … But micromanaging the players emotions is one of the reasons. Let them have fun.

    The other issue that can be fixed is the kneeling during the anthem. It’s hard to feel sympathy for a second string QB who has a 9 figure contract, or even identify with his grievance. The NFL is so concerned with image, and they better figure this one out.

  2. Ratings are not down because players aren’t allowed to do whatever they want after a touchdown. Everything that’s prohibited is prohibited because it’s rude. It’s rude to mime killing someone, it’s rude to rub success in your opponent’s face, and it’s rude to gyrate your pelvis in front of an audience who’s there for something else entirely. There’s a whole world of legal celebratory dancing and jumping and short skits still wide open to players. All they have to do is not be rude.

    @From the sidelines, I find it hypocritical that you bash the NFL for penalizing rudeness after a touchdown, but you want to prevent heartfelt expression during the national anthem. The anthem isn’t usually televised, and anyone present can focus on other elements of the ceremony if they don’t like seeing players kneel. It’s not a distracting act and isn’t unsportsmanlike. I think you’re the one micromanaging here.

    I do find disingenuous the NFL’s line that they care about being good role models and having a good image when they are so backwards about player behavior off the field. When they start permanently banning players who commit a violent felony, that’ll be a little more credible.

  3. Karen,

    Rude? Honey, football is a violent and very emotional game. Let them have fun. It adds to the game.

    Please tell me the current players in the NFL who have been convicted of a violent felony that are in the league as we speak. I am not aware of any. However, if a man committed a crime and served his time – see Michael Vick – why should he not be able to play in the NFL. Vick did his time, and should be allowed to work if he could find a suitor for his talents.

  4. To those who believe the NFL is ruining football by having some restrictions on player celebration, look at every other level of football. Any use of the ball, even spiking it is unsportsmanlike conduct. Some people think that just because the NFL allows a fair amount of celebration, it should allow players to do whatever they want.

  5. Bill,

    You make a reasonable point and I think that rulings on player celebrations make much more sense for high schoolers, and maybe college. I could live with college players spiking a ball.

    I do think that, as a fan, who appreciates the game and played pop warner through four years of college, the celebrations add to the fun of the game. My own theory is that it is all fine until it gets overly choreographed and delays the game. But, you want to dance, spike, highstep, make a bow and arrow motion etc…. have some fun!

  6. Gracious me, I forgot my poor little lady brain can’t comprehend the manly sport of football. Thank you so much for reminding me of my place, you smart gentlemen, you.

  7. Karen-

    You are classic.

    First…You make an ass of yourself with the rude reference. As if Emily Post was dictating on-field etiquette.

    Next… You gloss over being corrected on your idiotic claim that the NFL is full of violent felons.

    And, then when you get called to task you play the female victim card.


  8. TQ NYG … you were the one who said “honey”. get off your patronizing high horse. The rest of us aren’t hear to sniff your farts of wisdom

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