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NFL taunting rule: Nullifying touchdowns may be considered, official says

Golden Tate’s extremely premature celebration may not wash next year. (Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate waved bye-bye 25 yards before he crossed the finish line on a 80-yard touchdown reception Monday night, a move that the NFL says may have severe consequences in the future.

How severe? Dean Blandino, the NFL’s head of officiating, told the NFL Network that the league’s Competition Committee could consider changing the rule about taunting to one more closely lining up with the college rule.

“A lot of people felt that the touchdown shouldn’t have counted [but] a taunting foul is always treated as a dead-ball foul, meaning whatever happened during the play counts, and the foul is enforced on the next play, which would be the kickoff,” Blandino said. “In college, this action would take back the touchdown. Tate started taunting at the 25-yard line. The college rule, that’s enforced at the spot of the foul. So they’d go from a touchdown to first-and-10 at the 40, which would be a gigantic penalty. The NFL rule, it’s a dead-ball foul, it’s enforced on the kickoff. But I’m sure that’s something that the Competition Committee will look at in the offseason.”

Seattle beat the St. Louis Rams 14-9 Monday night and Tate apologized for his action afterward and his coach said he was fined. Naturally, that coach thinks changing the rule would be a mistake.

“I think that’s a terrible thing to do,” Pete Carroll said (via ESPN). “I think it puts too much pressure on the officials to change the game like that. I think that would be terrible to ask on a back judge to decide if he should take away a touchdown in a game. That should not be part of what an official has to do.”

It does feel like an overcorrection. Tony Kornheiser had a better idea on “Pardon the Interruption:” Just make the team kick off after the TD from its 5-yard-line.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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