Jimmy Graham’s act of defiance is going to cost him.
The New Orleans Saints tight end was fined $30,000 for throwing down a pair of goalpost dunks following his two touchdowns in last Friday’s 31-24 win over the Tennessee Titans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, according to a league source.
Graham could have been fined a total of $33,075 for the two infractions. The NFL’s rules state that a first unsportsmanlike penalty comes with a $11,025 fine and the second one escalates to $22,050.
The NFL banned the posttouchdown dunk over the crossbar this offseason. Many have speculated that the rule was put in place after one of Graham’s dunks at the Georgia Dome knocked the goalposts out of alignment and caused the game to be temporarily delayed.
During a presentation at the Saints training camp in West Virginia, NFL official Gene Steratore joked that Graham could tell his children that he was the reason for the so-called “Jimmy Graham rule.” After further joking that he would rather cheer a player who could cleanly dunk in uniform, Steratore explained Graham’s signature celebration is viewed as a taunt to the opposition.
“If there’s any actions that are provoking or feel like they are demeaning to an opponent, then that’s our obligation I think to the (NFL) shield to keep it out,” Steratore said.
Graham, who signed a four-year, $40 million contract during the offseason, drew two 15-yard penalties for his pair of dunks against the Titans. Coach Sean Payton was visibly upset after the second penalty and exchanged words with Graham on the sideline.
The two have since talked and smoothed things over.
“Listen, I’m his biggest fan,” Payton said earlier this week. “And I’m sure as we get going here, that type of thing isn’t going to be a problem. You know, rules are changing constantly whether we like them or whether we voted for them or any of those things. But listen, he’s outstanding. He’ll be ready to go. And then what took place in the meeting will be between he and I.”
Graham understands why his coach was upset with his celebration and said that he would not doing anything to hurt his team during the regular season. However, he did not seem to be in favor of the league’s rules when addressing the media earlier this week.
“For four years and however many touchdowns, I’ve always dunked it,” Graham said. “I’ve just got to stop doing that now.”
Graham said he is not hurting anyone by dunking the football and would not say if his days of celebrating by throwing down on the goalposts are now over.
“I can’t guarantee you that,” he said. “But I would never do anything to hurt this team.”