NFL Rules: Taunting and Spiking the Ball. Why is taunting called so much?

Ward taunts the crowd

In a game as emotionally charged as American football, it is easy for players to celebrate after big plays. Sometimes this comes at the expense of other players, as often players will celebrate to rub it into the faces of another team. This is known as taunting, and it can come in many forms. In recent years, the taunting rule has become heavily enforced leading to many taunting penalties being called. Another form of celebration known as spiking has also seen a crackdown in the modern NFL. Here’s a look into what these penalties are and why they are illegal.

What is the taunting rule?

The taunting rule is a rule that prevents players from celebrating at the expense of another player. This can be seen as baiting the opponent into an altercation which can lead to severe penalties and is often considered poor sportsmanship. The NFL rulebook describes taunting as “any flagrant acts or remarks that deride, mock, bait, or embarrass an opponent”. This can be directed at a team or at any individual player.

What are some examples of taunting?

Arizona Cardinals v Kansas City Chiefs

Taunting can come in multiple forms and can vary in severity. It can be pointed at one opponent like flexing on top of one player after a big play. It can also be pointed at many players like pointing at an entire sideline after a big first down. Basically it is any act meant to entice a player into an altercation or acts “that may engender ill will between teams” so it could come in many forms. If game officials feel as though it is a form of celebration meant to cause a fight then taunting calls will be issued.

Below, find every NFL Taunting penalty for the 2021 season.

What is the penalty for taunting?

Referee Flag

The penalty for taunting is one of the harsher penalties in football. It is a 15-yard penalty from the spot of the taunting and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. If NFL players get two unsportsmanlike penalties, it could be grounds for ejection. Fines could also be issued depending on the severity of the taunt as well and a suspension could be issued for repeat offenders.

Why is taunting being called so much?

Super Bowl LV

After incidents involving the Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill flashing the peace sign during long touchdowns, the NFL competition committee decided to make a change. This included a play where Tampa Bay Buccaneers S Antoine Winfield Jr shoved a peace sign in Hill’s face after an incompletion in Super Bowl LV, which the NFL felt was bad for the game. The committee felt that taunting was a major issue, and made it a point of emphasis for all NFL referees in the upcoming 2021 NFL preseason and regular season. With the NFL’s crackdown, many fans dubbed the NFL the No Fun League due to minor taunts leading to huge penalties. Many pointed to the NBA and MLB as leagues where taunting wasn’t frowned upon, but the NFL has yet to budge.

What is spiking the ball and why is it illegal?

Super Bowl LV

Spiking the ball is the act of throwing the football down as a form of celebration. It’s one of the most popular touchdown celebrations due to its simplicity and physicality. However, it used to be allowed as a celebration from any point on the field. But In 2007, the NFL enacted a new rule making spiking of the ball, except for in the end zone an infraction that would cost the team five yards. The rule change was instituted to cut down on delay of game and to limit player celebrations except for after a touchdown.

What is spiking the ball to stop the clock?

A team can intentionally spike the ball to stop the clock when they are short on time and have little or no timeouts. In football, the only way you can stop the clock is by calling a timeout, running out of bounds, or by spiking the ball. If a team wishes to stop the clock by spiking the ball, the team will line up at the line of scrimmage like they always do. The center will hike the ball to the quarterback, and the quarterback will immediately spike the ball into the ground. This is considered legal due to item 3 of the intentional grounding rule which states that “A player under center is permitted to stop the game clock legally to save time if, immediately upon receiving the snap, he begins a continuous throwing motion and throws the ball directly into the ground.”