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NFL SVP Of Officiating Defends Monday Night Football Taunting Penalty

 Before the start of the 2021 season, the NFL made it a point of emphasis to remove taunting from the game. 

“The N.F.L. Players Association, coaches and competition committee have all made a strong statement regarding respect among everyone on the field,” the league said in August in its annual rule changes and points of emphasis video. “We saw an increase in actions that clearly are not within the spirit and intent of this rule and not representative of the respect to opponents and others on the field.”

There have been numerous examples of refs taking the crackdown too far, essentially taking the passion out of the game of football. 

On Monday night, it all came to a head with a brutal taunting penalty called against Chicago Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh. 

With a little over three minutes to play in the fourth quarter and the Steelers up three, the Bears got the play they needed, stopping Pittsburgh on third down on Marsh’s sack of Ben Roethlisberger. Marsh performed his patented sack celebration — a karate kick — before taking a few steps toward the Steelers sideline. As he ran back toward his own sideline, he made contact with referee Tony Corrente, who threw a flag for taunting, giving Pittsburgh a new set of downs. 


Members of the media and fans reacted with indignation to the call, questioning what Marsh did to warrant a taunting penalty. 

On Wednesday, NFL senior vice president of officiating Perry Fewell explained the call. 

“In Chicago versus Pittsburgh, Bears No. 59 is penalized for taunting,” Fewell explained in a video posted to Twitter. “He takes several steps toward the Pittsburgh bench, posturing toward their sideline. Taunting is a point of emphasis to promote sportsmanship and respect for opponents. This was recommended by the competition committee and coaches.”


Marsh told reporters after the game that Corrente “hip-checked” him, calling it “inappropriate.” 

“On my way to the sideline, I got hip-checked by the ref. It’s pretty clear,” Marsh said after the game. “If I was to do that to a ref or even touch a ref, we get kicked out of the game and possibly suspended and fined. I just think that that was incredibly inappropriate.”

“I think that one was just bad timing. It’s pretty clear to everybody who saw it that I wasn’t taunting,” Marsh said. “I’ve been doing the celebration my whole career. It’s just sad to see stuff like that happen in a close game like that.”

Corrente defended his call, saying that the contact with Marsh had nothing to do with the taunting penalty. 

“First of all, keep in mind that taunting is a point of emphasis this year,” Corrente said in a pool report. “And with that said, I saw the player, after he made a big play, run toward the bench area of the Pittsburgh Steelers and posture in such a way that I felt he was taunting them.”

“I didn’t judge [the contact] as anything that I dealt with. That had nothing to do with it. It was the taunting aspect.”

Not surprisingly, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin defended the NFL’s emphasis on taunting penalties, saying players are “role models.” 

“We’re just trying to clean our game up,” Tomlin, a member of the NFL’s competition committee, said Tuesday. “We embrace the responsibility that comes with being the role models that we are.

“This game being played at the highest level, we understand that people who play at a lower level watch us and often mimic the things we do and how we conduct ourselves and just largely as a league competition committee specifically, there was a desire to improve in that area. That’s been expressed to our guys.” 

While NFL fans have complained about the new emphasis on taunting, the NFL does not appear to have any intention of making changes to the rule anytime soon.

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to sports@dailywire.com.

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