Definition of Taunting Rule

What does the term "taunting rule" mean? What is the "taunting rule" when it comes to the NFL?

The NFL has a "taunting rule" in its rulebook that can result in a 15-yard penalty, fines and even an ejection.

First off, here is how the NFL describes "taunting":

What is the Taunting Rule in the NFL that everyone is talking about.  The King explains."The use of baiting or taunting acts or words that engender ill will between teams".

A taunting penalty results in a loss of 15 yards from the spot of the ball, and if it is called against the defense, results in an automatic first down.

Players can be fined $10,300 for a first taunting offense and up to $15,450 for a second.

Players can also be ejected from a game if they are called for two taunting penalties in one game.


The taunting rule has been the source of much controversy in the 2021 season, as referees have been calling it more frequently, at the behest of the NFL Competition Committee.

This has resulted in some taunting calls which have changed the course of games at crucial junctures, which has raised the ire of fans, who believe that overzealous taunting calls are ruining the game.