Through the first four weeks of the season, NFL officials have spent a lot of their time cracking down on taunting -- you know, one of there real issues facing the league. In 2015, there were 22 taunting penalties accepted and 24 in 2014. There have already been 13 violations in 2016, on pace to more than double the totals in the last two years.
The rulebook describes the penalty as "using baiting or taunting acts or words that engender ill will between teams." But so far this season, that’s been a pretty far-reaching explanation. Players have curiously been flagged for a myriad of apparent offenses, including Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson for spinning a football and Washington cornerback Josh Norman for shooting a bow and arrow -- twice.
All of these penalties mean a lot of silly fines have been handed out over the last month. This week, largely, is no different. The week's most significant fines are below, ranked in order from most ludicrous to sensible.
1) Terrelle Pryor celebrates, LeBron style, after his first receiving touchdown in the NFL
Pryor, who entered the league as a quarterback, worked hard to turn himself into a No. 1 receiver -- and somehow he did it in just over a year. A week after he accounted for 200 yards and nearly won a game for the Browns all by himself, he finally caught his first touchdown pass in the NFL. He celebrated as any Clevelander would, but made one crucial mistake: He forgot to put the ball down first, and was fined $9K for using it as a prop.
Maybe he was reluctant to drop the football after he was ridiculously flagged for it in Week 2. Still, no Cleveland player should ever be fined for imitating LeBron James.
2) Antonio Brown's pelvic thrust
Brown was fined Week 1 for twerking after scoring a touchdown. So OK, he knows the rule. But getting fined $24K this week for pelvic thrusting in the end zone after catching a touchdown pass against the Kansas City Chiefs? That's absurd, NFL.
3) Blake Bortles punting a football after a TD
There’s nothing even mildly offensive or crude about punting a football into the stands after you score a touchdown. But it is against NFL rules.
NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino says while it’s not considered taunting, since the gesture isn’t directed at the opponent, it is subject to a fine. Bortles is expected to pay a price of $6,076 for his fun –– but at least the Jaguars won the game.
4) Josh Norman’s bow and arrow
Shooting a bow and arrow is one of Norman’s signature celebrations, so it makes sense as to why he broke it out after he had intercepted his first pass of the season last Sunday. But of course, the act is against league rules.
The NFL fined Norman $10,000 for the gesture, which they didn't do after he pulled out the same celebration in Week 2. In fact, Norman wasn't even flagged for that one. If the NFL is going to be ridiculous, can it at least be consistent?
5) DeSean Jackson's cleats
Jackson's cleats may have carried an ambiguous statement, but it's still absurd that the NFL fines grown men for their footwear.
6) Odell Beckham Jr. taunting
It's been a rough week for OBJ. After being held to just three catches against the Minnesota Vikings and facing criticism for losing his cool on the field, he said recently playing football isn't fun anymore. According to the fine schedule, he's on the hook for a little more than $24,000 for getting in cornerback Xavier Rhodes' face last week. As Ian Rapoport reported Friday afternoon, that exact number was $24,309. That probably won't help him change his view.
Eli Manning, Ben McAdoo, and Tom Coughlin have some merit when they call out Beckham for being a distraction on the field. But chirping at a defensive player, especially somebody who's egging you on, is a borderline foul at best. Legislating trash talk seems like a dangerous road to start traveling down.
7) Falcons LB Deion James concussing Cam Newton after helmet-to-helmet hit
Newton has spent the week in concussion protocol after James smashed into him headfirst on the goal line last week. The collision was expected to cost James $24,309, according to the fine schedule. Amazingly, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer reported Friday afternoon that Jones would not be fined for the hit.
Since Newton was out of the pocket, he's treated like any other runner. But still, headhunting is deplorable –– even if it may have been motivated by a Newton taunting penalty earlier in the game. So we're not sure how this went without a fine.
8) Jets S Calvin Pryor fine for Doug Baldwin hit
Pryor says he disagrees with the $25,000 fine he received for hitting Baldwin in the head area last week, but he earned this one. Though the speed of the play likely made it difficult for Pryor to slow down, safeties should know to avoid a receiver's upper-body when levying a hit. It's how the game is played now.