The new NFL taunting rule isn’t fun for anyone, especially for a team like the Buccaneers that enjoys celebrating their accomplishments.
Every person who has ever played sports knows that person, you know, the one that always gets picked last. You could always rely on that teammate to make an easy mistake that would blow the game, only to listen to them lament for hours after spouting every excuse in the book for why it wasn’t their fault.
The NFL, it would appear, is no different, and unfortunately, it would seem those same teammates are now the people in charge that still don’t know what they’re doing from a rules perspective.
This rings especially true when it comes to taunting. Any true competitor knows that taunting is not just a side effect of competition but also an inherent part of dominating your opponent. If you don’t like getting taunted, there is an easy solution; play better. The Buccaneers saw both sides of this last season, but that just comes with the territory at the highest level of competition in any sport.
Some players rely heavily on individual celebrations and other mind games to dominate their opponents mentally before the ball is even snapped. This is only worsened when a player celebrates during play, and their opponent can do nothing to stop it.
This was put on a glorious display by Ndamukong Suh last year, who not only physically crushed Aaron Rodgers during the Buccaneers bout with the Green Bay Packers, but he then proceeded to taunt him mercilessly, sending Rodgers into a spiral that led to him being pulled, and the rest was history.
Many defensive backs around the league thrive off of taunting the wide receivers they’re covering. This has proven to be a successful tactic for such talents as Jalen Ramsey, and the Buccaneers own Antoine Winfield Jr. The Super Bowl would have been a lot less fun last season without that infamous picture of Winfield throwing up the peace sign in a mockery of Tyreek Hill’s famous celebration.
Side note: if Winfield gets flagged for that, will the same thing happen with Hill’s signature move from now on? Something tells us the NFL is going to do this about as well as all of the recent changes to on-field reviews.
The Buccaneers are dominant. The entire mentality for this team is built around several bubbly personalities that talk about how much “fun” they have on the field, and getting penalized for even a modest celebration after a big play in the name of minimizing taunting is a weak gesture.
If opposing teams want the Bucs to stop, keep them from winning. Unless the player does something outwardly disrespectful, the refs need to leave their flags in their pockets.
The NFL has been out of touch with their fans for some time now from a rules standpoint and changes like this run counter to what most of us remember from our days as competitors.
NFL fans are tired of seeing their sport constantly softened to the point it has reached. At the very least, let players play the game with all its different facets, taunting included; it undoubtedly makes for a far more entertaining product, especially when your team is the one having fun.
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