There were many reasons for Indianapolis Colts to feel encouraged after the team’s first preseason game on Sunday.
After all, the performances from Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger suggest the pair should be able to steady the ship until Carson Wentz returns from injury.
For fans of the NFL, however, the game was an alarming indicator of what’s to come in the new season in regard to taunting penalties.
Early in the third quarter, fifth-string running back Benny LeMay took a handoff and pushed a pile of Panthers defenders past midfield for a first down.
It was one of the plays of the preseason, and LeMay, understandably amped after the highlight-reel moment, did the apparently unspeakable and showed excitement.
LeMay was penalized for taunting and the NFL once again became a meme on social media for its maddening no-tolerance policy for excessive celebrating.
Colts RB Benny LeMay’s taunting penalty isn’t a good sign for the NFL.
A 15-yard penalty for barely showboating after you carry a horde of defensive linemen and linebackers for a first down? Suffice it to say we are worried about the future of the NFL, which continues to live up to its “No Fun League” nickname.
While it’s unclear what LeMay said after he emerged from the swarm of defenders, surely gassing himself up and hitting the Panthers with a flex can’t warrant a flag? In today’s NFL, it unfortunately does, and fans should brace themselves.
The league already announced it’s making taunting rules a “point of emphasis” this season, so plays like this — where LeMay didn’t even get in anyone’s face or make a threatening gesture — are likely going to get penalized.
After getting flagged, LeMay had no other choice but to contain his emotions after he scored a fourth-quarter TD that helped spearhead the Colts’ comeback.
No spike. No flexing. Nothing. Just a couple of hugs and high-fives from teammates after scoring the biggest touchdown of the game.
Did we mention that LeMay is a former undrafted free agent trying to find a job as a backup running back? This was arguably the biggest moment of his career, and he was forced to act like he just scored a TD in a 20-point blowout.
The NFL is already a physically demanding sport, and the league is essentially asking its players to refrain from acting on instinct and adrenaline. That raw emotion is part of what makes moments of individual brilliance so compelling.
Consider yourselves warned, Colts fans. If this is the standard the league wants, taunting calls could quickly become the new pass interference penalty in terms of volume and drawback from fans and the media.