Five NFL players were fined for unsportsmanlike conduct in the first week of the season, including star wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Ja’Marr Chase.
Diggs was fined $10,609 for mocking Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey in the season opener NFL Networkafter his reaction to a touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.
The Bills receiver beat Ramsey to score on a 53-yard reception to make the score 31-10 and was seen talking to his opponent afterwards.
The league noted that Diggs was doing something that fit within the definition of their taunt rule — “the use of any decoy or taunting act or word that incites ill will between teams” — even though no flag was thrown after his touchdown grave.
Elsewhere, another top receiver, Ja’Marr Chase, was twice fined a total of $23,870 for unsportsmanlike conduct in his team’s loss to the Steelers.
Seahawks safety Jamal Adams, who suffered a season-ending quad injury in Week 1, was also fined $10,609 after his team’s win over the Broncos.
Bills cornerback Dane Jackson and Broncos linebacker Jonathon Cooper were both given smaller fines, docked with $4,972 and $4,723, respectively.
The league made a concerted effort last season to strengthen its crackdown on unsportsmanlike conduct, a decision made directly by the NFL Competition Committee and the Coaches’ Subcommittee.
“Coaches felt like it had gotten out of hand in recent years. We can’t turn away from the fact that sportsmanship is at the core of our game,” Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, told the Associated Press last year.
“Sportiness has always been the core. The rules are very clear. Don’t do it toward the opponent’s touchline or at the opponent.
“It doesn’t mean you can’t party, you can’t have fun, you can’t take spontaneous action. You can jump, flip, party. You just can’t do that to an opponent.’
There were 61 taunting penalties imposed last season, the most in at least two decades, ESPN reported.