It appears that the new rules of the “No Fun League” are going to be taken seriously when it comes to dishing out penalties for excessive celebrations.
In the Saints’ preseason game against the Titans on Friday, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham caught a touchdown pass from Josh McCown 6:30 into the first quarter, and Graham unleashed one of his signature celebration moves, dunking the ball over the goalposts.
But with stricter on-field conduct rules in place for the upcoming season, including barring goalpost dunking, the act caused the referees to promptly throw their flags and assess the Saints with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.
Despite the 15-yarder after his first touchdown, Graham apparently didn’t learn his lesson. Later in the half, after catching another touchdown from McCown to make it 14-10 Saints, he tried out the same move again, yielding the same 15-yard penalty from the refs.
Saints head coach Sean Payton was visibly upset with Graham after the incidents, chasing Graham down after the second touchdown, which led to a heated exchange between the two.
The new rules, which ban using the football as a “prop” in celebrations, came in part due to incidents in past seasons where Graham’s dunks have actually caused goalposts to become bent from their original position, leading to lengthy delays as the posts are reset.
The first two weeks of preseason games have already seen a spike in penalties called, as teams and referees alike try to work out the kinks of new rules and getting back to football before the real games start in September.