Nailing the punt returner (as you put it) would fall under this rule:
(f) if a kicking team player invades the 5-yard zone, and contacts in an unnecessarily
rough manner a receiving team player who is attempting to play the ball, the kicking
team player will be subject to an additional 15 or 25-yard penalty, regardless of
whether the ball had struck the ground.
Deliberately standing within the 5 yard circle can fall under this rule:
(d) if a kicking team player is making no attempt to withdraw from the 5-yard zone,
and is hovering over the ball or the receiving team player about to take possession
of the ball, a 15-yard penalty will apply regardless whether the ball bounced.
The second rule (d) is what Jim Barker kept bugging the sideline official about in the mic'd up game.
I could not blame any team for taking a 5 yard…15 yard…well, that is another thing. I am not saying go crank the guy. I am not saying encroach when it is in the air. I am saying down the ball or make the tackle once it hits the ground. I don’t care about a 5 yard penalty on a kick.
What's wrong with nailing the punt returner if it's only going to be a 5 yard penalty?
According to league rules, if a tackler makes no attempt to vacate the 5-yard restraining zone around a punt returner, the kicking team can be assessed a 15-yard penalty even if the ball bounces on the ground. If a tackler were to "take out" the punt returner before he touches the ball, I believe the kicking team can be assessed a 25-yard penalty...that's whats wrong with it.