As the trash talking between New England and the New York Jets comes to an end, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wants to ensure there are no repeat incidents in 2011.
Goodell said the NFL will discuss further defining what language and messages are acceptable between competing teams and players. Goodell didn’t say comments deemed inappropriate would automatically draw a fine, but it’s clear that last week’s vitriol spewed between the Jets and Patriots wasn’t music to his ears.
"There’s always a little bit of talk, particularly between rivals," Goodell said Tuesday at an NFL owners meeting in Atlanta. "I think there’s got to be a respect amongst the people who play and coach and, most importantly, for the game of football. I want to make sure that’s respected throughout the league."
All eight teams in last weekend’s divisional playoffs received a warning memo from the league office about crossing the line with trash talk, particularly comments that threaten physical harm against another player. The league advised that such comments could be used in determining the perpetrator’s punishment if any illegal on-field contact occured.
Before the edict, the Jets and Patriots were exchanging barbs like pro wrestlers. Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie used a swear word to insult Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Using veiled comments, New England wide receiver Wes Welker poked fun at the internet foot-fetish videos that allegedly feature the wife of New York coach Rex Ryan. Jets linebacker Bart Scott then responded with a threat against Welker when saying, "Be very careful what you say about our coach. (Welker’s) days in a uniform will be numbered. Put it like that."
Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs also got into the act before the Ravens’ loss at Pittsburgh with a silent swipe at the Steelers. When meeting with the media, Suggs wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the message "Hey Pittsburgh" above a cartoon raven flipping an obscene kind of bird.
"I understand the approach of different teams," Goodell said. "I think that’s great and healthy that there are different approaches. But there also is a line you don’t want to cross. We need to make sure we define that and don’t cross it. That’s what I think we want to work on in the offseason.
"We have policies in place in respect to certain types of conduct and threats. We want the game played within the rules. That’s what we enforce through our officiating department and football operations people."
Welker wasn’t fined by the NFL for his comments about Ryan, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick levied his own form of punishment by benching the wide receiver for New England’s first offensive series in last Sunday’s 28-21 loss to the Jets.