The NFL’s emphasis on taunting has been ill-received by most and while Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley understands the league’s motivation behind enforcing the rule, he knows the challenge players face trying to avoid unnecessary penalties.
Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Genard Avery was hit with a 15-yard penalty late in the fourth quarter during Thursday’s 28-22 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The controversial play would end Philadelphia’s momentum and any chance of a comeback.
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Genard Avery #58 and Steven Nelson #3 of the Philadelphia Eagles tackle Leonard Fournette #7 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lincoln Financial Field on Oct. 14, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
“I know that Philly had one late that was really tough,” Staley said of the call. “I understand the emphasis of the NFL. I also think that it’s really tough to legislate emotion in a game that’s full of it. I don’t have a perfect answer.”
“I just know that it’s tough on these players. It’s tough on them. They have a really, really difficult job. It’s a game that’s based on the energy and emotion of competition, 22 guys going at it, a stadium full of 80,000 people. I think it’s very challenging, I really do. My side is with the players, always. But, what we have to do, the best we can, is to show our players the examples of when it isn’t the right thing.”
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Head coach Brandon Staley of the Los Angeles Chargers high fives Trey Pipkins #79 during the first half against the Washington Football Team at FedExField on Sept. 12, 2021, in Landover, Maryland. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
NFL executive Troy Vincent told The Associated Press this week that the league feels confident in its pursuit of cracking down on taunting.
“We’re right where we need to be and we’re now seeing the correction we were looking for,” Vincent said. “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.”
Officials threw 11 flags for taunting in the first two weeks of this season – the same number called in the entire 2020 season for the same foul – but only three over the next three weeks.
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Regardless, Staley shed light on just how difficult it is for players to control their emotions in the heat of the moment.
Head coach Brandon Staley of the Los Angeles Chargers calls a play during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at SoFi Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
“If it was easy, then you wouldn’t see as many penalties as there are. We’ll just see. We’ll continue to try to make that a point of emphasis.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.