New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham clearly doesn’t care about the NFL’s ban on goal-post dunking as a touchdown celebration, but his coach does.
Graham dunked on the goal post twice during New Orleans’ preseason game against the Tennessee Titans on Friday and was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct both times. After the game, Saints head coach Sean Payton was not too happy about about his star player’s blatant disregard of the rules.
“Yes, I was (upset),” Payton said via The Times-Picayune. “I’m very upset. Would you be upset? I was, particularly.”
The newspaper noted that Payton didn’t say anything to Graham the first time it happened, but he did after the second incident and Graham was noticeably upset. The team understands Graham’s anger over the rule, but they also understand Payton’s anger over Graham’s defiance.
“Coach Payton was completely correct to jump on him,” offensive tackle Zach Strief said. “Any of us, I think, would expect it. I think Jimmy probably expected it. Look, we don’t like seeing stuff like that on the sideline. That’s not how this team is.
“I know Jimmy knows that it doesn’t look good. I think Jimmy will address it. But Coach Payton is going to call you out when he sees things he doesn’t like. And clearly two personal foul penalties, he doesn’t like.”
But while Graham’s antics were a problem Friday, Strief said he doesn’t think they’ll be a problem in the long run.
“I don’t think Jimmy’s a selfish player,” Strief said. “That’s a selfish play in a real game, and I don’t think Jimmy’s selfish…In a real game, (Graham) wouldn’t put the team in that situation.”
Graham could be fined by the NFL in addition to the talking-to he likely received from Payton. One unsportsmanlike offense costs $11,025 and a second costs $22,050, so the tight end might end up paying $33,075 for his celebrations.
Photo via Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports Images