Sorry, Jimmy Graham: Dunking the ball over the crossbar will be penalized in the NFL starting in 2014, the league's vice president of officiating Dean Blandino told the "Dan Patrick Show" on Tuesday.
It will not be a new rule, Blandino explained — officials will just make it a point to enforce an existing regulation prohibiting the use of the ball as a prop for celebrations.
"Using the ball as a prop or any object as a prop, whether that's the goal post, the crossbar, that ... will be a foul next season," Blandino said to the Patrick show, according to NFL.com.
There are exceptions to the prop celebration rule, such as the Lambeau Leap, which was "grandfathered in," Blandino said.
But the dunk is not one of them any more.
Word that the NFL is banning the post-touchdown dunk over the crossbar won't be popular in New Orleans, where Saints All-Pro tight end Graham made it a tradition to perform the celebration after each of his 44 career TD grabs (including the playoffs).
Graham reacted defiantly to the news, saying via Twitter: “I guess I’ll have to lead the @nfl in penalties next year! #funpolice.” He attached an action picture of himself elevating to dunk the ball over a crossbar at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome — a superimposed image of a referee was positioned in front of him as if to block it.
More than 2,000 people had retweeted Graham’s message and photo within 20 minutes of his posting them. He later deleted the tweet.
Former Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, who recently retired but also used to punctuate scores by dunking the ball over the crossbar, wasn’t too impressed either with what he heard about the league’s stance on his old celebration.
“This one I don’t understand,” Gonzalez wrote on Twitter. “Looks like I got out just in time.”
It wasn't immediately clear what, if anything, Blandino's comments had to do with a proposal to raise the goal posts by five yards that the NFL competition committee is considering at the annual owners meeting in Orlando. The conventional thinking, though, is that higher goal posts would be easier to knock out of alignment.
Graham knocked the crossbar and goal-posts out of alignment and caused a slight delay during a Saints win at Atlanta on Nov. 21. Even at the time, it seemed the inevitable conclusion would be Tuesday's revelation that the celebration would be illegal in future NFL seasons. It was the second time he had made the crossbar in that end zone lean to one side after a dunk. He did the same thing on a two-handed jam following a 21-yard TD in 2011.
This is at least the second time the NFL has worked to eradicate a type of celebration in the wake of a notorious incident involving a Saints player. Former New Orleans receiver Joe Horn's infamous cell phone celebration in 2003 was one of the episodes that motivated the NFL to ban using props during post-touchdown revelry.
Meanwhile, in other rules-related news, owners voted to approve a proposal to prohibit blockers from rolling up on both the back and side of the legs of defenders for player safety reasons, according to the Pittsburgh Steelers' official website. It had previously only been illegal to roll up on the back of defenders' legs.
Owners also approved a proposal to let on-field referees consult with the league’s officiating department in New York during replay reviews.
The Steelers' site said the NFL will consider other proposals on Wednesday.