What’s the call

You can’t guard me. The Secret Service couldn’t guard me.
Now hold on there. Nothing personal. This is purely scientific. Now ask yourself this: If someone said that to you, would you consider it mere “trash talk” or an out-and-out “taunt?”
Say, be sure to catch CNN tonight. You just made Play of the Day.
Again, is this mere woofing or do you consider it more severe than that? Maybe something that would require you to rip off the speaker’s arm and beat them with it?
This is the sticky wicket that referees of the National Football League will be facing this season as the league once again has anted up its attempts to quell unsportsmanlike conduct.
Ripple effects caused by the cell phone stunt by New Orleans Saints receiver Joe Horn last season, as well as the Terrell Owens football signing incident, have changed the already existing rule.
And the “big suits” in the NFL offices on Park Avenue in New York City voted 31-1 that player’s can’t introduce foreign objects or any choreographed celebration routines. The league also has “emphasized” it will be enforcing penalties to quell the amount of taunting the millionaire hooligans institute during games.
“We want to take taunting out of the game and take unsportsmanlike conduct out of the game,” NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, the biggest “suit” of them all, said during a recent press conference.
But what are the differences between trash-talking and taunting?
For instance, if your opponent says, I could whip your butt with Yasser Arafat’s moves, is that just trash talk or is it a taunt? If somebody says, Better go check lost & found, I think you lost your game, is that mere jackin’ or should you start kicking his behind until his nose bleeds?
If your opponent says, I’m going to use you in more ways than Arm & Hammer, what’s the call?
This is where I come in.
Having been trash-talked to and taunted in various sports by every no-passin’, K-Swiss-wearin’, no-Right-Guard-usin’, I’m-going-to-leave-a-Nike-imprint-on-your-forehead-sayin’, George-Costanza-chuckin’, no-hustlin’, arm-band-knee-band-and-head-band-wearin’, touch-foul-callin’, elbow-flailin’, easy-bleedin’, momma’s-boy-cryin’, can’t-catch-the-ball-because-my-pinkie-finger-hurts-whinin’ YMCA gym-rat from here to Hell’s Kitchen, this is a subject I know volumes about.
I have to admit I feel sorry for the poor schmucks in the zebra outfits (definite trash talk), so I will provide this easy-to-use guide for the refs so they can decipher between what a trash talk would sound like as opposed to a taunt.
Trash Talk: See these hands? Want to buy them?
Taunt: Forget about the circus, I’m the greatest show on Earth!
Trash Talk: Yo homes, I just flushed your butt.
Taunt: Are you always this bad or are you making a special effort today?
Trash Talk: Class is now in session.
Taunt: They call me the ‘Bus Driver’ because I bring kids to school.
Trash Talk: The question is why? Why would you even try against me?
Taunt: I’m the eighth wonder of the world, baby!
Trash Talk: Take a ticket, I’m serving everyone.
Taunt: My moves aren’t light speed—they’re faster.
Trash Talk: You so ugly that when you went to an ugly contest they said, ‘Sorry no professionals’.’
Taunt: Bow down to your maker.
Trash Talk: You’re game is like moldy swiss cheese—full of holes.
Taunt: I’m going to make you bleed like a five-year-old with a picking problem.
Trash Talk: Take my card because I’m giving you the business!
Taunt: My moves are rated-R because of the violence it causes your ankles.
Trash Talk: By any chance you related to that Pillsbury dough boy?
Taunt: Better get some Lysol ready because I’m going to mess you up.
Trash Talk: They call me 24-carat because my game is so pure.
Taunt: Don’t apologize, your game is sorry enough.
Trash Talk: Mirrors don’t talk, and lucky for you they don’t laugh, either.
Taunt: They call me ‘Corner Stone’ because the team can’t stand without me.
Trash Talk: You meditate? Because I’m about to blow your mind.
Taunt: I hope you got some life insurance before you came.
But I think the NFL should set up a point system to control taunting in this beautifully-refined game, which always displays the utmost courtesy and grace from their gentlemanly players (taunt).
Under this plan, every time a player gets a taunting penalty called against them, he would earn a point rather than having his team lose yardage.
Upon reaching a specified number of points (four is a nice-sounding figure), the player automatically would be suspended for two games and would be required to take an anger-management seminar instructed by Mike Ditka.
And perhaps, as in competitive diving, the point system could introduce degrees of difficulty. For instance, the referee could assign a score that takes into account the harshness, severity, and creativity for every taunt heard.
But this course of action might not be fair to the players, who have laboured too hard to have their work demeaned like this.
These guys pride themselves on their taunting. And if such a policy came into effect, you can almost hear the players’ ragging on a ref: Oh, come on ref, only a 2.6, I worked on that one all last night. That was at least a 4.2, I made the guy cry for goodness sakes.
Personally, in the end, I think the NFL brutes ought to be allowed to police themselves in such matters—as they have from the start. And the “big suits” in their high-rise NFL offices, who obviously aren’t getting enough oxygen to the brain, ought to go out and rent a life.
Definite taunt, with a 3.8 for degree of difficulty.
Comments? Suggestions? Best taunts ever heard? E-mail me at emoutsatsos@fortfrances.com

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