Raiders tight end Darren Waller was officials’ latest victim, getting hit with a 15-yard penalty that stirred controversy on social media with viewers questioning the call. With his back turned to Chargers players, Waller spiked the ball into the ground in celebration after making a critical catch halfway through the second quarter but refs called him for taunting.
“I don’t understand the taunting. I hate taunting. I think it’s ridiculous,” Gruden said after the game. “I think what happens after an interception or a touchdown, we allow these celebrations, I consider that taunting.”
He continued: “I don’t understand what happened over there on the Chargers’ sideline. But the official made the call, we have to deal with it. We couldn’t get any momentum going. That didn’t help us.”
Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, who also serves as the chairman of the NFL’s Competition Committee, defended the rule push last month saying the league is attempting to do away with players “enticing” other players into unsportsmanlike conduct.
“First of all, this point of emphasis has nothing to do with the No Fun League,” McKay told the Falcons’ website at the time. “Where people can ding us on the No Fun League is the celebration rules. Taunting is a different thing. Taunting is trying to entice that other player into some type of activity that is not allowed in football.”
It would be difficult to make the case that Waller was “enticing” anyone with his celebration.
Several players have come out against the league over the taunting penalties but McKay said back in September that the issue was initially raised by the NFLPA and NCAA
“This year, the first issue brought to us by the NFLPA was that there was too much player-on-player taunting activity, and there was too much in your face.”