The NFL continues to bolster its reputation as the “No Fun League.” In this latest case, the competition committee announced it would penalize players–notably the New Orleans Saints’ Jimmy Graham–for dunking the football over the goal posts following a touchdown. Seriously.
NFL competition committee co-chairman Jeff Fisher said Graham’s routine–which he copied from now-retired tight end Tony Gonzalez–was at the heart of the decision to add the goal-post celebration to the list of post-touchdown actions that will draw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“The background is when the committee basically defined unsportsmanlike conduct and celebrations, it grandfathered in the Lambeau Leap, provided only one person jumped into the stands,” Fisher said. “And also (the committee) made an emphasis, made it illegal, to celebrate using anything as a prop, whether it was a pen or it was a ball or what have you. But then again allowed the players to, in essence, use the goal post as a prop, to dunk, to shoot, whatever.
“And then last year we had an incident in one of the games where there was a dunk and the goal post was tilted and the game was shut down for about 25 minutes until they could get the goal post corrected. That’s unnecessary, and so we just felt that we would include the goal post in that category as props.”
Fisher didn’t specifically name Graham as the inspiration for the decision to add the dunk to the list of celebration no-nos, but when asked if it was the tight end he said: “It was a player that’s done it before that’s real tall, catches a lot of touchdown passes and is pretty good.”
NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino revealed the change in how the goal-post dunk will be officiated Tuesday during a radio interview with “The Dan Patrick Show.”
Graham, a former basketball player at the University of Miami, has tilted the crossbar twice during his career with a post-touchdown celebration. In the Saints’ game in Atlanta this past season, the game was delayed as stadium workers reset the crossbar.
“And the same play he dunked and the goal post shifted, and then he used it as a punching bag,” Fisher said. “Now we’re not going to penalize back to back but the first one, the dunk, now is going to be a penalty. We just can’t afford — can you imagine if someone had a hamstring issue after a 20-minute delay in the game because we allowed a player to dunk?”