All-Pro Saints tight end Jimmy Graham won’t be able to get around the NFL’s ban on dunking this upcoming season by finger-rolling or shooting the ball over the field goal’s crossbar. It will all constitute using the ball as a prop illegally and draw a flag for a 15-yard penalty, NFL referee Gene Steratore said Saturday morning during a media briefing at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, where the Saints are holding much of their 2014 training camp. “That was the question I had yesterday — look, if it’s a clean dunk or a finger roll, I mean, come on,” Steratore said. “But no — (that’s a) prop. We just have to go prop.” Steratore joked that he’d rather not penalize a player who could dunk the ball over the crossbar without touching it while wearing full football equipment. “I’d have to cheer you for that,” Steratore said. “But we can’t. We have to start drawing the line.” Word that the NFL was banning the post-touchdown dunk over the crossbar by making it a point of emphasis to penalize that under existing unsportsmanlike regulations was reviled in New Orleans. Graham — who played basketball in college — made it a tradition to perform the celebration after each of his 44 career TD grabs (including the playoffs). The initial reasoning the NFL touted involved this season’s approval of taller uprights, which would supposedly be more easily knocked askew if the goal was dunked on and could cause drawn-out delays. Even with the shorter uprights, Graham had caused a minimal delay by dunking the ball over the crossbar after a touchdown in a win at Atlanta in November and knocking the goal off frame.
Saints TE Jimmy Graham can’t get around NFL dunk ban with finger-rolls, layups, ref says
The New Orleans Advocate | Aug 3