Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller is a fan favorite for many reasons. He’s ridiculously skilled and productive, often leading fantasy teams to success given the lack of top-end talent at the tight end position. He’s a symbol of hope and determination to fight through your low points, as he overcame a tough battle with drug addiction to become the star that he is today. And his fire and passion for the game of football is evident with every game he plays.
Perhaps that’s why, of all the taunting calls, this one irked me and many other NFL fans the most. The crackdown on taunting hasn’t been very popular, with nearly everyone wishing the policy would just go away, and there are several examples of plays that didn’t warrant the penalty. This Waller call, though, seemed especially undeserving.
Okay. So he spiked a ball. He “spiked” it on the ground after going out of bounds, in no specific direction, with no malice toward any specific opponent, with no intention of hurting anyone’s feelings, or bragging about a big play, or… well, “taunting” at all. It didn’t matter who watched the play, be it former players, well-respected analysts, or typically fiery Twitter personalities: everyone was on the same page that it was one of the more frustrating calls we’d witnessed to this point.
Sigh. Another week, another call that literally no one — except for the execs who put the crackdown into motion, of course — agrees with. Heck, the referees probably grimace every time they have to blow the whistle for these plays. If social media has anything to do with the determination of NFL rules, perhaps all this Twitter anger will eventually lead to a change in the right direction.