There are two things I’ve taught my son about sports. First, even if you haven’t, act like you’ve been there before. Celebrations are cool and fun but if you take it too far some kid will take you out. Second, keep your head on a swivel. The second applies to sports and life. Always be aware…be self-aware and be aware of your surroundings. Know what’s going on around you at all times. These two lessons have been lost on some athletes at the pro and collegiate levels.
While watching a terrible Monday Night Football game (Seahawks at Rams) this past Monday, something made me laugh uncontrollably. Golden Tate, a 5’ 10” WR for the Seattle Seahawks, did something he rarely does…catch a TD pass. He actually caught two…he can retire a happy man now. The best part about his 80 yard TD grab is the taunting penalty that was called on him. As the CB for the Rams tried to do his best to not fall down and look completely ridiculous, Tate caught the ball and began to wave good bye to the Rams defense. He was so busy trying to taunt the Rams that he nearly ran out of bounds. Watching him realize that he was almost out of bounds then getting pushed and stumbling to the turf was the funny part. You almost heard the words “OH SHIT” come out of Tate’s mouth.
Tate obviously caught some criticism on Twitter for his great and dumb play. Since Monday night, the topic of conversation has been the taunting rule in the NFL. Currently, it’s a dead ball foul and the 15 yard penalty is enforced on the kickoff. People in the media are asking if the NFL should institute the college football rule for taunting which would negate the score and then enforce a 15 yard penalty from the spot of the taunt.
The reason the taunting penalty is strictly enforced in college football is because it’s still considered an amateur sport (even though it’s not). I’m not a huge fan of taunting. I typically groan when professional athletes grab their balls as they jump over the goal line or wave goodbye to the defense, especially when it’s a player like Golden Tate who hasn’t had more than 100 yards receiving all season and has only had one 100 yard game in his four year career.
Even though I don’t like when players taunt, I’m not interested in seeing more penalties in the NFL or football in general. These are professional athletes; if they want to taunt the other team then let them. They’re big boys; if they don’t want the other team to taunt then they need to play better. If someone decided to break Golden Tate’s leg on the next series, then that’s on Tate…you shouldn’t taunt the other team.
Dean Blandino, the league’s VP of officiating, said on the NFL Network that the league’s competition committee will be taking a look at the rule in the offseason.
They will eventually replace the current taunting penalty with the one from college and I couldn’t be more upset. The fact that anyone would take direction from the NCAA is laughable. They already took away TD celebrations, for the most part, by letting players know what they can and can’t do. For such a visionary and forward thinking league this is a very reactionary decision (like many other recent decisions) from the NFL.
This is a violent game and extremely entertaining game…and we want to keep it that way. No matter what you think, we tune in to be entertained for a few hours when we watch football. We want the big hits, we want celebrations and yes, even though you won’t admit it, we want taunting. It makes for good television. When you take the drama out of the soap opera it just becomes another shitty TV show like ‘Two Broke Girls’ and no one wants that. When a player gets his knee blown out because he taunted the defense earlier in the game, that’s his fault. I bet he never taunts again.
I could care less if Golden Tate got his legs busted for taunting. Terrell Owens taunted all the time and he never got taken out. In fact, I would venture to say that his taunting in Dallas, although disgusting and stupid, made for great television. I still see clips of him getting hit at the 50 yard line after slamming the ball on the Cowboys logo…and it’s still great.
Players have been taunting for years. Deion Sanders made a career out of it and people love that guy. Don’t change the rule because some douche bag that couldn’t catch a cold, let alone a football, decided to be an asshole. Keep the rule as is. If you do change the rule at least make it interesting. Have them kick the extra point from the 40 yard line or kick the ball off from their own goal line. Don’t take points of the board, that’s just stupid.