More details inevitably are emerging regarding whatever Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones said to Colts quarterback Matt Ryan to draw a flag that extended a drive that otherwise would have been ending with a punt.
Per a league source, the post-game report from referee Shawn Smith said that Jones used “disturbing language,” and that there is “no place in professional football” for it.
Smith penalized Jones for unsportsmanlike conduct. The source says that Smith, in hindsight, believes he also should have referenced taunting.
Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1(c) specifically includes the use of “baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams” within the definition of unsportsmanlike conduct.
Still, it’s hard to understand how it was taunting and/or unsportsmanlike conduct without knowing what Jones said. Jones won’t reveal what he said; but why should he have to be the one to do it? If he’s going to be penalized not for actions that anyone watching the game could see but words that only Smith and maybe a few others could hear, it should be for the entity that threw the flag to disclose what was said, with something more detailed than it was “disturbing.”
Absent that kind of specificity, the outcome is understandably disturbing for the Chiefs. The decision to penalize Jones may have altered the outcome of the game. Also, to the extent that other players and coaches need to know where the line is, it’s important to know what Jones said to put him on the wrong side of it.