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  • Erica Blackburn

Ron Rivera has no problem with new taunting rule

Each year, the NFL rules committee reviews, tweaks and augments elements of the game. Last season, the point of emphasis was the use of the helmet. In 2019, it was about team celebrations (which put an end to choreographed touchdown celebrations). In 2018, it was about leading with a helmet in tackles. Hits to quarterbacks below the knees was the talk in 2017, which makes it a little more difficult to bring down opposing quarterbacks.

This year, the focus is taunting. The NFL banned “any violent gesture, or an act that is sexually suggestive or offensive” and also simply “baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams,” among many other things.

For the Washington Football Team, taunting hasn’t been a problem. But head coach Ron Rivera understands why the league made this decision.

“The league sends us the directives as to what's going on and then they send us a sampling of what's acceptable and not acceptable,” said Rivera. “The whole concept and idea behind it is what we don't want is we don't want it to escalate. So they tell everybody, this is an emphasis. This is what we're really going to try and clamp down on. And traditionally, you know, if it happens, especially during the preseason, it's a great time to do it. Just so the players understand what the referees are going to be looking for. They don't want you taunting your opponent. If you make a great play, great. Be excited, but don't do it towards your opponent. That's all we're asking. That's what the rule is for.”

We saw a few times last season where players went completely over the edge in a game that is predicated on emotions and violence. “That’s not a good look for any sport, let alone football and somebody's going to get hurt and you just don't want that,” said Rivera. “And that's why they're doing it. That's what the emphasis is, that's why everybody's just got to relax, calm down.”

“Let us go through this process of trying to make sure the players understand that, hey guys, you can celebrate and can have a good time, but don't taunt your opponent because we don't want retaliation in this league. We really don't because it is not a good look. Quite honestly, we don't need the young people to see that. We don't need the pop warner, peewee football kids seeing us act like that. We want to put it out there as professionally as possible.”

The Washington Football Team will face the Cincinnati Bengals tomorrow, August 20th at 8p ET.

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