The NFL’s Next-Level Trash Talking

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Before games, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs has a new homework assignment – study his opponents’ Facebook pages. He reads up on the other team’s mothers, sisters, girlfriends – and then uses that intel to tailor highly personal insults come Sunday.

“With social media, you can find out anything you want about a person,” he says. “Anything to help us win.” Last season, the NFL cracked down on taunting, doling out 34 penalties compared with just nine in 2012 – a sign trash-talking is on the rise. “Your girlfriend gets mentioned,” Jets guard Willie Colon says. “It can get pretty ugly.” If a quarterback scores low on the Wonderlic, an influential 12-minute test measuring problem solving, he’ll hear about it.

“We made fun of [Texans quarterback] Ryan Fitzpatrick because his head is so big,” Suggs says. In the end, says Colts linebacker Robert Mathis, the new intimate insults still boil down to the same thing: “Trying to get you out of your comfort zone.”