The NFL has informed the eight remaining playoff teams that it expects players to keep their trash talking off the field and, if illegal hits occur in games starting today, any previous comments will be taken into account when considering discipline.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed the communication by Ray Anderson, the league's executive vice-president for football operations, in a tweet, saying:
"To confirm what's being reported: Ray Anderson contacted multiple clubs this week so they could remind players comments of a physically threatening nature are always taken into account in evaluating discipline for illegal physical contact on field."
Newsday's Bob Glauber and Peter King of Sports Illustrated reported the move by Anderson. It was unclear whether he named anyone in particular, but there certainly has been plenty of back-page fodder and back-and-forth between the Patriots and Jets, some of it subtle and some of it not, and between the Steelers and Ravens.
On Friday, Jets linebacker Bart Scott responded to tongue-in-cheek references to feet by Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker. "I'll tell you what," Scott told Newsday. "Be very careful what you say about our coach. His [Welker's] days in a uniform will be numbered. Put it like that."
Earlier in the week, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie called Patriots quarterback Tom Brady an expletive. "I just spoke on how I felt about somebody -- that's not trash-talking to me," Cromartie said Friday. "If you feel a certain way about somebody, then that's how you feel. I don't really care if they take it as trash talk, if they put it on the bulletin board for them to see when they walk out of the locker room. I really don't care."
Cromartie was angry because he felt that Brady pointed to the Jets after scoring during the Patriots' 45-3 blowout of the Jets in December.
Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs did most of his talking with his clothing, including a T-shirt that said, "Hey Pittsburgh" and showed a purple raven and an extended middle digit.