Posted on September 24, 2021

Yes, the NFL’s Taunting Penalty Is Racist

Carron J. Phillips, Deadspin, September 21, 2021

The thing most people don’t understand about racism is that it goes beyond hating someone based on the color of their skin. It’s also about a power dynamic that gives the “hater” the ability to be detrimental to their victims.

For example, like calling flags on Black players for being “too Black” while playing a game.

If you haven’t noticed, the way that the NFL — and its officials — have cracked down on taunting in the first two weeks of the season has upset players and fans across the board, as the “No Fun League” is living up to its reputation once again.

Spinning the ball at a player, jawing at someone, crossing your arms to say “I just stopped you,” or any type of “excessive” banter are all things that will get you flagged now, with the first violation costing you a $10,300 fine and a second infraction coming with a $15,450 hit to your wallet.


This is Roger Goodell’s version of the dress code David Stern mandated for the NBA in 2005, as he wanted to clean up the appearance of a Black league so that he could sell it to global (white) markets. And after the fallout from the NFL’s continued blackballing of Colin Kaepernick and exposure for race norming, this is the NFL’s way of telling white America: “Hey, don’t worry. We still have these ni**ers on a tight leash.”


It’s never lost on me that when white players get fired up or upset on the sidelines, it’s instantly viewed as passion and love for the sport. But, when Black players do it, it’s “too much,” “out of control,” or it “crosses the line.”

Black joy has always been viewed as criminal.

A blind person can see that the racial dynamics of the NFL workforce mirrors that of corporate America. The league’s workforce (its players) are overwhelmingly Black. Middle management (coaches and coordinators) have a few minorities across the company. And the executives (owners and league office) are virtually all white, meaning that people who look like the workers are never adequately represented in the meetings that will affect them the most.

It’s textbook Racism 101, and as you can see, it can be applied to almost anything, as taunting is just the latest rule put in play to make sure the “inmates don’t run the prison.” Eventually, one of these calls will wind up determining an important game on a big stage, which will lead to more outrage from fans and players. And when that happens, the NFL will put Tony Dungy on TV to speak on their behalf, as he so often does whenever the league needs him to put a positive spin on one of their racist decisions.