NFL could start nullifying touchdowns for taunting penalties

By Sam Gardner,

Golden Tate apologized after Monday night’s win over St. Louis for taunting Rams safety Rodney McLeod during the final 25 yards of an 80-yard third-quarter touchdown pass.

Tate called himself “immature” — which he was — and said he hurt his team — which he did — but did so mostly because that’s what you do when your coach tells you to after you make yourself look like an arrogant jerk on TV.

However, someday sooner than later, a similar offense might give players like Tate a real reason to apologize. There’s a belief that the NFL will explore the idea of taking touchdowns off the board for taunting penalties this offseason.

NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino appeared on NFL Network Wednesday and addressed the enforcement of taunting rules and said that he believes the league’s Competition Committee will look into changing the rules to be similar to those used in the college ranks.

“A lot of people felt that the touchdown shouldn’t have counted [but] a taunting foul is always treated as a dead-ball foul, meaning whatever happened during the play counts, and the foul is enforced on the next play, which would be the kickoff,” Blandino said, via PFT.

“In college, this action would take back the touchdown. Tate started taunting at the 25-yard line. The college rule, that’s enforced at the spot of the foul, so they’d go from a touchdown to first-and-10 at the 40, which would be a gigantic penalty. The NFL rule, it’s a dead-ball foul, it’s enforced on the kickoff. But I’m sure that’s something that the Competition Committee will look at in the offseason.”

The NCAA approved its change to the taunting rule in 2010, and the new rules took effect in 2011. The call isn’t made often, but one of the most famous instances of a taunting penalty nullifying a touchdown came in Week 6 of the 2011 season, when LSU punter Brad Wing had a touchdown called back after he mocked the Florida Gators special teams unit on the way into the end zone following a fake punt.

As of right now, the talk about the NFL altering its rule is nothing more than speculation, but it would seem like a reasonable next step from an organization that already has a reputation as the “No Fun League.”

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