So far the taunting rule has basically been close to the worst-case scenario. Any hope that it might be one of those rules that gets over-called in the preseason and then vanishes in the regular season has been somewhat disproven. It is getting called frequently enough, and the calls have the exact problems any of us who didn’t like it feared. It’s being applied arbitrarily, it’s being applied inconsistently, and it’s not serving any real purpose outside being bullshit.

I’ve read the boomer mentality arguments thrown around in defense. Well, it’s not necessary to flex your biceps at someone after making a play. No, you don’t have to yell stuff in the face of the DB you just caught a ball over. Many of these moments that are flagged are not specifically necessary and plenty of players are fine not doing them. I don’t care for this argument, because it’s old man shit. Who cares if it’s not explicitly polite or sporting to scream LETS FUCKING GOOOOOOO while flexing on a dude you just owned. It’s fun. It’s awesome. Football taunting has not gotten out of hand. We weren’t having big fights and heightened drama because the taunting was running rampant. The new rule was a solution to a problem that didn’t exist. That’s probably why nobody outside the dipshit owners who implemented it seem to like it.

From a more cynical lens, it might not even just be the ol’ No Fun League bullshit from the era of anti-celebration that we recently escaped, but a genuine attempt to establish control over the players even further. I’ve seen the theory thrown around that the rule might have been implemented so that they can use it as a bargaining chip in the next CBA negotiations. I’m not sure I buy that level of conspiracy, the NFL tends to be reactionary with its rule changes. It’s hard not to see this rule as a reaction to the Antoine Winfield taunt in the Super Bowl that…oh right, it didn’t cause a fight, Tyreek Hill barely seemed to acknowledge it. Why was this implemented again?

But even if you are one of the stuffy folks who hate displays of emotion and fun, which I don’t agree with but I guess is a perfectly valid opinion to have, the rule sucks because it’s not clear what counts as a taunt and it basically comes down to subjectivity by the refs. Everyone’s personal line of taunting is different. Should Lamar Jackson have been flagged for doing a pointless flip into the endzone against the Chiefs? Honestly? To me? If you are going to throw flags for taunting, that was an explicit taunt. More of a taunt than flexing a bicep at someone while walking back to the huddle. I thought the flip ruled, but I could absolutely understand the idea that it was a taunt. So is the line “anything that happens explicitly after the play ends”? If you are going to police this kind of shit, it feels pointless to draw the line there. Taunting happens during plays too. Every Deion Sanders high step is a taunt. Sauntering into the endzone after a runback is a taunt just as much as shouting WOO in someone’s direction after the whistle is a taunt. The whole rule is just so fucking dumb. It was fine before. Unless it is excessively unsporting, just leave it alone and let the jazzed-up players express themselves after doing cool shit.

But John Mara likes it. Add it to the pile of reasons John Mara’s a failure.