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USATSI

The NFL is catching flak early in the 2021 season for an increased enforcement of taunting penalties. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll summarized the issue this week by suggesting the league had a "good thought" with its new rules but has "opened a can of worms" by trying to legislate what is and isn't excessive celebration. Washington coach Ron Rivera, however, is all for the added emphasis on taunting, telling reporters Tuesday that he's in favor of celebrations but believes more enforcement will help prevent player fights.

"We've had the example where one guy taunts a guy, then the guy comes back for a little payback, and next thing you know you've got a big fight on your hands," Rivera said. "You got guys coming from left field hitting each other. And that's really what ... the referees are really looking for, just trying to get it quieted down."

"I mean, you can do the celebrations," he added. "I'm all for the celebrations. Remember, we were the 2015 team (with the Panthers) that everybody was mad at because we were dabbing and stuff like that, taking pictures on the sideline. You want these guys to keep their personalities, you want them to be who they are. ...But the intent is that somebody doesn't do something (that gets) retribution."

Rivera closed his argument for the new rules, which call for penalties against things like spinning or spiking the ball after a play, as well as pointing at or verbally taunting an opponent, by saying the added enforcement is for the sake of both player health and integrity.

"Whether we want to (be) or not, we are examples," he said. "We are role models. Do your ball drop, do your dab or your dance or whatever, but don't do it toward somebody. We're just trying to make sure we don't have a brawl on our hands. ...We don't need the fights."

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