By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL is placing an emphasis on taunting penalties this year. It didn’t take long for America to see that emphasis in action on Thursday night.
In the second quarter of the Cowboys-Buccaneers game, after a 19-yard completion from Tom Brady to Chris Godwin, a couple of flags flew and two officials met for quite some time on the field. Referee Shawn Hochuli actually had his microphone on, almost giving us a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the discussion.
Looking at the hot mic situation, it happened on a play where taunting was minimal, but it's a point of emphasis this season. And umpire Terry Killens was probably acknowledging that fact in his explanation, saying, "let's just say it is—" before he was cut off. pic.twitter.com/uKIUriMDDU
— Fᴏᴏᴛʙᴀʟʟ Zᴇʙʀᴀs (@footballzebras) September 10, 2021
Alas, the mic cut out, and Hochuli eventually announced two penalties: a personal foul on Dallas’ Carlos Watkins, and a taunting penalty on Tampa Bay’s Ryan Jensen.
Replay showed Watkins throwing a punch at Jensen’s helmet behind the play, which drew the first penalty. Replay also showed Jensen celebrating that punch, happily informing Watkins that he had just cost his team 15 yards.
Unfortunately for Jensen, he negated that penalty with that egregious, unforgivable, DISGUSTING display of “taunting.”
Watch the video for yourself … that is, if you can stomach it:
Behold 2021’s 1st “taunting” call 🥴
— PFF (@PFF) September 10, 2021
Umpire Terry Killens’ reaction seemed to say, “My bosses are making me call a penalty on that.” Which doesn’t seem fun. But at least he became an instant meme.
the rest of the NFL realizing Tom Brady's not going anywhere pic.twitter.com/tXiTY4P2Kj
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 10, 2021
That’s a face that says “full teams can run together into the end zone to celebrate a touchdown, but I’ve got to throw flags on linemen who celebrate getting punched by opponents.”
Hopefully, for the sake of sport, this emphasis becomes forgotten in the coming weeks. This benefits nobody.