NFL Taunting Rule Explained

Adam Taylor McKillop
What is the new NFL taunting rule? NFL taunting rule explained included penalties, fines and other relevant information.
What is the new NFL taunting rule? NFL taunting rule explained included penalties, fines and other relevant information. / Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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Each and every year, the NFL explores some different points of emphasis with the rulebook. In recent years, we've seen an emphasis on limited contact directly with helmets, defenseless players on special teams plays, among others.

Recently, the NFL announced a new point of emphasis heading into the 2021 season: taunting.

NFL New Taunting Rule

According to the league, referees have been instructed to "strictly enforce" taunting rules in 2021. The rule itself has not changed, but the referees are tasked with cracking down on actions defined under taunting.

NFL Taunting Rule Change

Rich McKay, chairman of the NFL's competition committee, explained the crackdown recently in a video released by the league.

“The NFL Players Association, coaches and competition committee have all made a strong statement regarding respect among everyone on the field. We saw an increase in actions that clearly are not within the spirit and intent of this rule is not representative of the respect to opponents and others on the field. Game officials have been instructed to strictly enforce the taunting rules, and players and coaches are reminded that two taunting penalties committed by an individual player will result in automatic disqualification. In addition, the taunting player may be fined and/or suspended depending on the severity of the actions.”

Rich McKay

NFL Rule Changes

According to the rulebook, taunting can be described as "using abusive, threatening, or insulting language or gestures to opponents, teammates, officials, or representatives of the league."

Do Players Get Fined For Taunting?

The NFL laid out a plan for two taunting violations in a single game to result in automatic ejection. NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero explained the violations can result fines and potential suspensions.

Below is an example of taunting being enforced during a Week 1 Preseason matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers.


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Adam Taylor McKillop is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Adam Taylor also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username atmckillop. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel. 

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