Seattle Seahawks' Pete Carroll says NFL 'opened up a bit of a can of worms' with emphasis on taunting rule

SEATTLE -- Pete Carroll, Seahawks coach, says he understands the NFL's goal to enforce the taunting rule more strictly. However, he feels the league has "opened up some cans of worms" by penalizing players for actions that are difficult to avoid in the midst of the emotion of a game.
Carroll stated Monday that "you've got a lot guys that have got to deal with those explosive times and they've to really focus their attention away from the enemy." It's a great thought. It's hard to manage.

Although taunting is not new, the NFL made enforcement of it a priority for its officials in 2021. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the 11 taunting sanctions that were issued in the first two weeks of the season (not including Monday's game between Detroit and Green Bay), already exceeds the total for the entire 2020 regular-season. In 2019, there were nine.

Two Seahawks were flagged for taunting in two games. DK Metcalf, receiver, and D.J., cornerback in the opener. Reed on Sunday.

Carroll's comments were made in response to Reed's infraction in the fourth quarter of Seattle’s overtime loss against the Tennessee Titans. Reed raised his arms after defending a long ball that was not completed. He then looked at A.J. Brown -- A routine celebration that has been allowed to go unpunished in recent seasons.

Carroll's problem was with Reed's flagging decision, not the official's rule. Jamal Adams, a strong safety, shared similar sentiments post-game and called the penalty "ticky"

"Come on, man," Adams said. Adams said, "You're taking passion and emotions out of football. That's the rule. We must play smarter."

Carroll gave an example from Sunday's match as an example of how not to be penalized for taunting. Carroll said that an unidentified player made a "very aggressive movement" after one play, but his body was slightly turned towards the opponent. It didn't seem like he was celebrating at anyone.

He said, "What we're discussing is celebrating with your teammates. We've been practising it and making a big deal out of it because it's one of the key new things they've emphasized. And as always, that is what they call." It's not a bad thing for the game, so I don't see it as a problem. It's just difficult for the men to do at the moment. They just have to learn and train, and we need to do a better job. I need to be able to put us in better situations, make sure we are monitoring it very carefully, and help our guys train.

Reed's penalty was just one of five infractions for 15 yards by the Seahawks against Tennessee. They were responsible for 10 penalties totalling 100 yards.