Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy says he understands the NFL's emphasis on taunting even if he was on the wrong end of the most controversial taunting flag to date.
Nagy told reporters on Thursday that he believes the league's emphasis is because young children are watching games and learn from what they see their idols do. And there's a level of respect that should be upheld in the game, he said.
Nagy on NFL's taunting emphasis
His full answer on why the league is emphasizing taunting calls:
"It's an exciting game. It's a game that's very emotional. But there are times that some people are egregious with celebrating and it can be over the top. And I think probably the biggest message is, let's calm this down a little bit because people watch and people want to see a little bit of respect. A little bit of doing things the right way.
"It doesn't mean you can't have fun, but there’s young kids right now that are watching games, and what happens is you go to one of these sporting events and you might see some imitation going on that’s taking it over the top. I’m a firm believer in respect and just kids growing and watching and we have a huge platform as leaders. I'm talking players and coaches.
"Let’s understand what the rules are, let’d do it the right way. Let’s still have fun — these guys are still having fun and not taunting. You can still have a great time. But let’s stay within the rules as we do it.”
The father of four used the example of Odell Beckham's one-handed catch in 2014 and how youth football players tried to imitate it instead of using their fundamentals of two hands.
Nagy skirts around taunting call vs. Steelers
Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh was called for taunting when he took a few steps toward the Pittsburgh Steelers bench late in their Monday night game last week. It kept the Steelers drive alive and they went on to win, 29-27.
Nagy did not mention the play when asked on Wednesday, but said it's up to him to understand the rule and teach players how to abide by it.
"I think that it's our job to do it the right way," he said. "And every one of these levels that you talk about in this game right now with the taunting rule has its levels to it. And if there's gray, you've got to understand the rule. Now I've got to do my job to teach that to the players so that they understand it and understand that these are rules, we can't change that."
The fourth-year coach said before the season he was in favor of the rule. After the Monday night loss, he said coaches and players need to be aware of the gray area. The NFL has been criticized for being inconsistent with the calls and at times petty with their rulings.
The Bears (3-6) are on a four-game losing streak and coming off a bye week. They host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday as six-point underdogs at Bet MGM.