We’re not even through the second week of August yet, but the NFL offered up some red meat for us fans who need something to complain about like we need oxygen to breathe.
With all due respect to the Hall of Fame Game, the NFL
preseason exhibition season got underway in earnest Thursday night in Foxboro where the Patriots hosted the Giants.
It was an entirely unremarkable game as are all football games that don’t count in the standings. That’s admittedly unfair to those players crashing into each other for the slight chance to make the back end of a gameday roster, but the only non-psychopaths who watched the entire game got paid to do so.
That’s not to say there aren’t takeaways. And from a pure football standpoint, one play from the first quarter really stood out in particular.
It was a taunting call on Giants cornerback Aaron Robinson. The second-year cornerback out of UCF made a nice play in the corner of his own end zone to break up a Brian Hoyer pass intended for New England receiver Kristian Wilkerson. Robinson made the universal sign for “incomplete pass” and did so fairly close to Wilkerson, but it wasn’t like he did an Allen Iverson step-over or something like that.
Regardless, the flag quickly came out, and Robinson was on the wrong end of a taunting call.
“You’re gonna call taunting for throwing both hands up?” Patriots radio analyst Scott Zolak, the definition of homer, said on the local TV telecast.
He wasn’t alone.
Former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz tweeted, “Dear NFL. Please don’t call this taunting ever again. (Signed) -everyone.”
Lawrence Tynes, the former Giants kicker had a similar take: “Here we go again with the taunting. This is such a joke.”
The NFL has made taunting a point of emphasis in recent seasons, and it appears they’re sticking with that in 2022. And that is what it is, but this was such egregious enforcement of the rule that we can only hope this is some sort of attempt to set a standard that will be relaxed as the actual season progresses.
That’s the hope, at least. NFL football is a physical game played by emotional men with a lot on the line. These games mean a lot to a lot of people, and to see something like that get called — especially if it happens on a regular basis — is a shame. Not only that, the league’s full-armed embrace of sports betting makes this sort of thing stand out even more.
Fingers crossed this is an exception to the rule and not the standard we’re fixing to see for an entire season.