If Randy Starks uses an obscene gesture directed at the Dolphins bench this year, he can expect a 15-yard penalty.
The NFL wants to clean up the potty language this year, spurred in part by the Dolphins’ bullying scandal. And so, officials will flag players who curse or flash offensive gestures with an unsportsmanlike penalty personal foul.
That includes words and actions directed at teammates and coaches —like Starks’ infamous middle finger to the Dolphins’ bench in the 2013 season opener.
“He better not let me see him do it,” said NFL line judge Mark Perlman, in town to brief Dolphins players on rule changes and points of emphasis.
Officials will have zero tolerance this fall for obscene, abusive language, particularly that of a racial or sexual orientation nature, and if it is used it will result in a flag.
The league has also banned blocks in which an offensive player rolls up the side or back of a defender’s leg. Another change: the clock will continue to run after a sack late in the first and second halves; before, it was stopped to get the ball spotted.
This year also brings a change to the instant replay system. In-stadium officials will be able to discuss plays with the league office in real time.
THIS AND THATMatt Moore Matt Hazel