NFL Provides ‘Disturbing’ Update on Words Exchanged With Colts’ Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan

Getty Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan received 'disturbing' on-field comments from Chiefs Pro Bowler in a report from the NFL on September 27.

The public still doesn’t know what Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said to Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan to draw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty towards the end of the team’s Week 3 matchup. But new details have surfaced that confirms what Jones muttered wouldn’t exactly belong on a holiday card.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported on September 27 that a league source told him a postgame report from referee Shawn Smith, who officiated the Colts-Chiefs matchup, said the defensive tackle used “disturbing language.” The report also said that there is “no place in professional football” for what Jones said to Ryan.

In Week 3, Jones and Ryan appeared to bump face masks with each other after the Chiefs made a third-down stop with under 5 minutes remaining in regulation. The Colts were set to punt while trailing by 4.

But the officials flagged Jones for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which gave Indianapolis 15-yards and an automatic first down.

Jones Penalty Should Have Included Taunting?

Jones was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but the NFL source told Florio that Smith should have included a reference to taunting in the penalty call.

A taunting foul is a kind of unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Including the reference to taunting would not have changed the yardage of the foul or ejected Jones — because it was his first taunting infraction of the game — but it may have caused less of a controversy at the time the penalty was called.

Florio reported that in the NFL rulebook, Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1(C) states that the use of “baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams” is 1 example of an unsportsmanlike conduct foul.

Whether called taunting or not, the end result was the same — 15 yards and a first down for the Colts. Indianapolis continued its late fourth-quarter possession and drove into the red zone, where Ryan found rookie tight end Jelani Woods for a second time in the end zone.

Assisted heavily by the Jones penalty, the Colts beat the Chiefs, 20-17.

What Jones Said to Matt Ryan Remains a Mystery

While Florio’s update gives credence to the fact that Jones did indeed commit an unsportsmanlike conduct foul, the cloud of controversy surrounding the penalty won’t be entirely cleared up unless the league reveals exactly what Jones said (or what Smith thought he said).

Florio made that argument himself:

“Still, it’s hard to understand how it was taunting and/or unsportsmanlike conduct without knowing what Jones said,” Florio wrote. “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.'”

Florio also argued that at the very least, the NFL could reveal what Jones said in order to establish “where the line is” in order to help other players not cross it and commit a taunting penalty in the future.

Like Jones, Ryan also declined in his postgame meeting with media to reveal what Jones said to him. It seems what led Jones to draw the crucial penalty in Week 3 will remain a mystery for the foreseeable future.

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