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NFL’s emphasis on taunting penalties could hurt the Browns

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry is already on the naughty list after being featured in league video highlighting taunting.

Syndication: Akron Beacon Journal Jeff Lange via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The NFL announced on Tuesday that officials will take a much closer view of taunting during the 2021 season.

And that might be bad news for at least one player on the Cleveland Browns.

The league released its annual rule change and points of emphasis video that highlights what the league considers to be taunting. The video also made a point to emphasize that if a player or coach receives two taunting violations it will result in an automatic ejection, with the possibility of fines and even a suspension being on the table, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

While the penalties are not new, the fact that the league is telling its officials to crack down is a result of the league’s coaches, the players’ union and the Competition Committee growing uncomfortable about a perceived increase in taunting, according to competition committee chairman Rich McKay:

“The NFL Players Association, coaches and competition committee have all made a strong statement regarding respect among everyone on the field. We saw an increase in actions that clearly are not within the spirit and intent of this rule is not representative of the respect to opponents and others on the field. Game officials have been instructed to strictly enforce the taunting rules, and players and coaches are reminded that two taunting penalties committed by an individual player will result in automatic disqualification. In addition, the taunting player may be fined and/or suspended depending on the severity of the actions.”

So how does all this relate to the Browns?

Well, wide receiver Jarvis Landry is one of the players featured in the video as he is shown spiking the ball at the feet of Houston Texans defensive back Eric Murray after catching a pass in Week 10 of last season.

The refs were already keeping a close eye on Landry — he received both of Cleveland’s taunting penalties in 2020 (h/t to Nick Pedone) — and now it is almost an automatic that Landry will pick up a penalty early in the upcoming season given that the league will be placing a greater emphasis on taunting.

Hopefully, things will quiet down before the officials do anything rash and the Browns wind up losing Landry (or another player) to a suspension.