Throughout the 2021 NFL season, there has been a massive amount of games that make people wonder, “Why are yellow flags being thrown?” For the 2021 season, there were many adjustments made to what is called a penalty and what isn’t, which has led to multiple blown games and furious fans. It’s become mishandled to the point even commentators are making remarks about what is being called and what isn’t.
To Penalize Or Not To Penalize
NFL rules and officiating have become the heart of what angers an NFL fan the most. The NFL has become more strict on the taunting rule which is defined by:
Using baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams.
Rules for what more taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct that can be flagged can be found in the NFL Rulebook under Player Conduct. The big reason that taunting is brought up is that, during the week nine game of the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Chicago Bears, the NFL officiating department came out and recognized the error and missed calls. Specifically pointing to the late hit Justin Fields took, which later Fields came out and commented on what he said to an official, “So I said ‘Big Ben just got that call. So I don’t know why you can’t give me that call?’ I mean I just needed him to call it both ways. That’s what I told him.”
What has been huge in how NFL players stay healthy is being hit, but when you hit a player late or give them an unnecessary hit, that adds extra pressure on their bodies. Now another penalty from the Steelers vs. Bears game was a taunting penalty called on Cassius Marsh, who was later fined $5,972 by the NFL. What has made the call very controversial is, Marsh had made a tackle and obviously was very excited about it, he jumped around and just stared a few seconds towards Pittsburgh’s bench, didn’t look like he said anything, and then proceeded to walk back to the Bears bench only for the official to “hip-check” him. The official taunting rule states, “baiting or taunting acts or words,” Marsh didn’t say anything, he just stared a few seconds at the Steelers sideline and nobody reacted. The penalty was honestly unnecessary and shouldn’t have been called. Not only do unnecessary penalties waste time and slow down games, but the audacity to also not call something that is clear.
For example, during week eight, the Cincinnati Bengals were taking on the New York Jets and the game came down to the very end. What was the deciding factor was a penalty that sealed victory for the Jets. Cornerback Mike Hilton was penalized for unnecessary roughness because he “lowered his helmet.” Taking a look at the hit, Hilton was going for a tackle at the waist, until running back Ty Johnson lowered his helmet, causing a helmet to helmet collision. An explanation was given by the referee who threw the flag, “We’re not all looking at that [the offensive player]. I don’t think there was any discussion about the offense. The call was on the defense.” This explanation shows how much the referees are the deciding factor on how a close game can go. If you’re a referee, your job is to keep the players safe and call what things go against the rules, meaning you look at both sides, offense and defense, you can’t just assume defense is always at fault. This is probably why we hardly see any offensive pass interference. Now this is only a few examples of how officiating has gotten out of control, heck even fans have called for NFL referees to be punished, which wouldn’t be a bad idea seeing as the referees have been extremely disappointing or maybe even embarrassing this season. Either the NFL needs to start cracking down on officiating, or things need to start being taken with more care and seriousness.