If you turn toward Merriam-Webster, you’ll find that taunting is described as “to reproach or challenge in a mocking or insulting manner.”
And to be fair to the NFL, real taunting can be a volatile issue in what can be one of the most competitive environments on the planet but the league’s continued over legislation of celebratory penalties is bordering on the absurd.
The latest example of that was Giants defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, who was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and subsequently fined $12,154 by the league after playing paparazzi when Landon Collins’ stole a Case Keenum pass for a pick-six in London last week.
Odighizuwa had the audacity to whip out his imaginary Nikon and capture Collins’ Kodak-level moment, which by “No Fun League” Standards of the day is a no-no.
And that’s something Odighizuwa should have known because his teammate, Odell Beckham Jr., was fined the same amount after taking his own fake photo in the Giants’ Week 1 win over the Dallas Cowboys, although OBJ was “mistakenly” not penalized on-field.
From the NFL’s standpoint, these are defined as celebrations with teammates that are choreographed and that’s prohibited.
At what point does common sense enter the lexicon on Park Avenue, however?
Does anyone really believe Odighizuwa’s actions were going to spark a brawl between the Giants and Rams if not reined in immediately?
Heck, even in the most dejected of moments on a football field like the aftermath of a pick-six, the Los Angeles players who actually noticed Odighizuwa and what he was doing probably shrugged and wondered why he couldn’t come up with something better that that.
This wasn’t a player getting in another face and screaming expletives or head-butting his helmet and it sure wasn’t a guy standing over a fallen peer and mimicking the slashing of a throat after a big hit.
That’s taunting and even in today’s hyper-politically-correct environment where Butch Johnson’s old six-shooters would have gotten him banned from the league and sentenced to social-media reconditioning, and did get Josh’s Norman’s “horrifically violent” bow-and-arrow display banned, the hypersensitive can’t twist themselves into a pretzel and claim a camera is dangerous.
Or maybe they can in London because of the tragic way Princess Diana passed.
If a picture really is worth 1,000 words, this faux-photograph used its entire allotment to “expose” just how grandiose the NFL’s stupidity is.
It’s one thing to be targeted with a false equivalency when the low-information crowd takes the baton and claims things like the league believes smoking marijuana is worse than say domestic violence but when you give fuel to the uneducated and those preying on them and hustling them for their own agendas, well then who is to blame?
Many of the NFL wounds are self-inflicted and the league’s devotion to ignoring the potential unintended consequences of its banal rulings like the reaction to Odighizuwa’s part in a TD celebration is mind-numbing.
Common sense is not only a valuable tool, it’s one that the NFL should look into investing in.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.