CLEVELAND, OHIO – OCTOBER 17: Referee Carl Cheffers #51 calls a defensive penalty during the fourth quarter of the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Arizona Cardinals at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Ryan Clark lets NFL officials and NFL owners know exactly how he feels about the taunting penalties
On ESPN’s NFL Live, former pro-bowl safety and Super Bowl champion Ryan Clark took a moment to share his thoughts on the way the NFL has treated taunting penalties this season.
“I think you can’t make this call subjective, if there’s going to be certain rules and certain things that are officiated in this, they need to be definitive.” Clark explained, “I need to know that I can’t stare at people, I need to know that I can’t flex my muscles.”
The NFL’s emphasis on taunting has been a failure
The topic of the NFL‘s new emphasis on taunting has been heavily debated all season but was brought to the forefront of every pundit and analyst’s mind after the Monday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Many of the calls made by the refs were extremely questionable and likely resulted in the Bears losing that game.
The league announced this offseason that they were putting a “point of emphasis” on taunting this season due to pressure from some team owners. This change in philosophy when it comes to taunting was made immediately clear this season when officials threw 11 flags for taunting in the first two weeks of the NFL season.
Since then, there have been 16 more flags thrown for taunting, resulting in 27 total taunting penalties in just over half a season.
There were only eight taunting penalties called in the 2020 season, while the most taunting penalties called in an entire season were 29 in 2013.