Inside Slant: Profanity of provocation

September, 15, 2013
9/15/13
1:15
PM ET

Sometimes we get whistle-happy NFL officials when the NFL hands down a new point of emphasis. I hope that's not the case with the information ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Sunday morning: that the league wants officials to penalize players for "profanity directed at each other."

Anyone who can read lips or has stood within 100 feet of a football field, at any level, during a game knows there is no way to curb profanities. But the NFL appears focused on language that provokes opponents, either intentionally or otherwise, during a week that included two significant scuffles among players.

Incidents in games between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, along with the New York Jets and New England Patriots, featured much more than poor language. But a well-directed word can spark a confrontation, no different than a well-timed shove. At least, that's what the NFL appears to be saying here. Let's see how many times officials can separate profanity of frustration, profanity of celebration and profanity of provocation.

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