While many fans have complained about the way taunting penalties are being called this season, the NFL says they are “right where we need to be.” In Week 1, referees called 11 taunting penalties, more than were called during the entire 2020 season.

“We’re right where we need to be and we’re now seeing the correction we were looking for,” NFL executive Troy Vincent told The Associated Press. “We saw the spike the first three weeks and now we’re seeing the decline. The coaches and the NFL Competition Committee are pleased. Coaches have told us their players are adjusting, they’re thinking about what they’re going to do, knowing it may cost the team. These are game-changing penalties for a selfish act.”

NFL, Penalties
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The decision to emphasize sportsmanship reportedly comes directly from the NFL Competition Committee and the Coaches’ Subcommittee, a group populated by team owners, presidents, general managers, and coaches.

“The coaches felt over the last few years it had gotten out of control. We cannot move away from sportsmanship being the core of our game,” explained Vincent, a former Pro Bowl cornerback.

He added: “Sportsmanship has always been the core. The rules are very clear. Don’t do it toward the opponent’s sideline or at the opponent. That doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate, you can’t have fun, you can’t have spontaneous actions. You can jump, flip, celebrate. You just can’t do it at an opponent. It leads to bad outcomes like players spitting at each other’s face, players throwing punches and fighting, players kicking and stomping one other. Make a play like a professional and get back in the huddle. You can have fun, but you cannot get in another player’s face. It leads to bad outcomes.”