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The NFL is banning another touchdown celebration: Dunking the ball over the goalpost.
All celebrations involving choreographed dances or using props have already been banned (no more cell phones hidden in goalposts or Sharpies in socks), but dunking the ball over the crossbar and the Lambeau Leap were grandfathered in. Now, dunking is out, but LeRoy Butler’s tradition will go on.
The rule change can be attributed to New Orleans Saints’ Jimmy Graham. When he jammed the ball over the crossbar last season after his 44-yard catch in the first half of the Saints’ 17-13 win over the Falcons, he bent the goalpost. The game was delayed as the stadium crew had to haul out a ladder to fix it.
After the announcement, Graham tweeted, “I guess I’ll have to lead the NFL in penalties next year! #funpolice.” He included a picture of him dunking the pall with a referee Photoshopped between him and the goalpost. The tweet has since been deleted.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told ESPN.com that “the potential delay of game for having to reset the crossbar after being knocked askew by a dunker” was the main reason for the new penalty.
Delay of game would not be the case for the Lambeau Leap (a tradition at Green Bay in which players jump up into the stands and into the arms of rabid fans). Of course, that’s until someone dumps beer all over Aaron Rodgers and he has to go change his clothes—or worse, hot chocolate. We don’t want his pretty face burned.
Graham, a former basketball player at the University of Miami, will be the most affected by the rule change. He has caught more touchdown passes over the past three seasons than anyone else and has made the goalpost dunk his trademark celebration.
There was a time long ago when players just calmly handed the ball over to the referee after a touchdown. A more refined time, to be sure, but things have changed. People have changed. We live in a much more expressive age. Is that for the good or bad—or neither?
What do you think? Is banning dunking the ball over the goalpost a good idea, or have the “fun police” inserted too many rules into the game?