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NFL officials to crack down on taunting in 2021

The season after Tyreek Hill got a dose of his own medicine in the Super Bowl, officials will be cracking down more on an existing rule,

NFL: Super Bowl LV-Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, individual NFL teams and the league’s Competition Committee propose rule changes. Owners then vote on whether to adopt these proposals. Three-quarters of the owners — 24 of 32 — must support a rule change in order for it to be adopted.

The league went through this annual process on Wednesday, approving a handful of rule changes — most of them fairly minor.

But sometimes the most significant changes in how the game is played aren’t brought before the owners for a vote. According to a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, we might be looking at such a situation in 2021.

Committee chairman Rich McKay said that officials had become “too lax in taunting,” and that “the face to face, the pointing of fingers, the standing over players on the ground” will now be penalized. McKay was also careful to say that post-touchdown celebrations would continue to be allowed.

The problem, of course, is that whether taunting has actually occurred is pretty subjective. And it generally occurs after big plays — such as touchdowns, interceptions or sacks. Especially in the case of a sack, it’s possible for the result of the play to be wiped out.

So as we have seen before, a subjective call by officials will have the potential to sometimes erase what could be a crucial play in a game — and exactly how the rule will be enforced won’t be clear until we have seen how officials apply their new guidance during the early weeks of the coming season. And if history is any guide, it’s likely that enforcement will vary from one officiating crew to the next.

It will be something for players, coaches and fans to remember when the season gets underway in September.

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