The NFL plans to crack down on taunting and on-field misconduct moving forward.
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Speaking at the NFL Annual Meeting on Wednesday, Jeff Fisher said the Competition Committee had a lengthy discussion about conduct in the workplace.
"We agreed that we have an issue on the field and we agreed that we are going get it under control as soon as we can possibly can," Fisher said. "Our taunting numbers increased from nine and 12 to 34 last year, and we're going to effect change immediately and that change will be effected as early as the OTAs when the players come back.
"We've got to change our conduct on the field. We've got to bring the element of respect to its highest level back to our game."
Taunting penalties always have been on the rule book, but curtailing will become an emphasis in September.
"We're going to clean the game up on the field between the players," Fisher said. "The in-your-face taunting. The language. It's all in the book. It's all under unsportsmanlike conduct. There's no change in our rule. We're going to enforce the current rule."
Fisher went so far as to say that the NCAA asked the NFL to help cut down on taunting as it filters down to all levels of the game. The St. Louis Rams coach said that college players emulate the actions they see from NFL players on Sundays.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell opened the NFL Annual Meeting this week with an emphasis on respect, both in the locker room and on the field. The Competition Committee had a lengthy discussion on how to promote sportsmanship throughout the NFL workplace; it was such a point of emphasis today that the committee passed out photocopies of the sportsmanship part of the rule book to all media.
Enforcing the taunting rules will add more to the referee's plate, but the importance of cleaning up the on-field misconduct seems to outweigh that concern.
Taunting penalties nearly tripled last season. The effect of the enforcement will be a visible change come September. There undoubtedly will be a controversial taunting penalty that could cost a team a win and will bring heat about the subjective enforcement of the taunting rule.
In the NFL's view, that risk is worth cleaning up the problem.