NFL Cuts 'Throat' Taunting

John Gotti Jr. runs into Manhattan federal court, Friday, March 10, 2006, in New York.

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue on Tuesday cracked down on the increasing number of incidents in which players have taunted either opponents or fans by running a finger across their throats.

NFL director of communications Greg Aiello said a letter would be sent Tuesday to the 31 teams telling them the gesture is now illegal.

As SportsLine first reported Monday, the derisive "throat-slash move" has caused considerable concern in the league offices over the past two weekends.

"Something is going to be done," Aiello told SportsLine on Monday. "This is going to be stopped. We aren't going to have this continuing."

Aiello said if the gesture is done by a player on the field, it will be deemed taunting or unsportsmanlike conduct and be subject to a 15-yard penalty.

If the "throat slashing" is directed at the fans, however, it will be construed by the league as an obscene gesture, not unlike raising the middle finger, as New Orleans coach Mike Ditka did this season. In that case, it will be taken out of the hands of game officials but will be reviewed by director of football development Gene Washington, who will fine the player.

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    The NFL bans "Throat-Slash Move".(AP)
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  • AP's Warren Levinson
  • Levinson On Players
  • The only player believed to be penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct was Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre on Sunday.

    The spate of "throat-slash moves" in the NFL seemed to begin Nov. 15 with New York Jets wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson after he scored a touchdown against New England.

    On Sunday, Favre used the move, as did Seattle tailback Ricky Watters.

    Favre, who agreed the gesture was out of character for him, said he was reacting to a "throat-slash move" made by Detroit cornerback Robert Bailey in the Sept. 19 game between the two teams.

    "I felt I owed him one," Favre said. "I know I'm always the guy saying how that stuff doesn't belong in the game, but it just irked me when he did it to us earlier this year."

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