New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton is not happy with tight end Jimmy Graham's goalpost dunks.
Graham scored his first two touchdowns of the exhibition season in Friday night's 31-24 win over the visiting Tennessee Titans and drew unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for dunking over the goalposts.
Graham's habit of dunking the ball over the goalposts after touchdowns was banned by the NFL this offseason, along with other taunting penalties where the ball is used as a prop.
Twice last season, Graham knocked goalposts ajar while dunking the ball after a score.
After the second one Friday, an angry Payton ran Graham down on the sideline and yelled at him. The two then had an exchange.
Payton was disturbed that the Saints were penalized 22 times, but Graham's touchdown celebrations upset him the most.
"Well, would that make sense? Would you be upset?" Payton asked. "Yeah, I was. Particularly."
Graham declined to speak with reporters after the game.
Offensive tackle and captain Zach Strief tried to calm Graham down after verbally jousting with Payton.
"I understand Jimmy's frustration with that rule change. I understand what he's doing," Strief said. "And yet it's something, look, if this is a regular-season game, Jimmy's not dunking over the goalpost. Coach Payton was completely, I think, correct to jump on him. 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. You know, Jimmy's an emotional player. He does emotional things all the time. Look, I'm not pointing fingers. I know it doesn't look good. I know Jimmy knows that it doesn't look good. And I think Jimmy will address it. But Coach Payton is gonna call you out when he sees things he doesn't like. And clearly two personal foul penalties he doesn't like."
Strief said he believes Graham just wanted to get the post-touchdown celebrations out of his system and will not cost the team with those types of penalties once the regular season starts.
"I know that Jimmy is not a selfish guy. He wouldn't do that in a situation that it would really hurt us," Strief said. "And yet, Jimmy knows that can't go on. I think that was his one opportunity to make his statement on it without making a statement, without saying words.
"People love Jimmy because he gets excited, and they love him because he celebrates. The fans love that stuff. And Jimmy is frustrated because they're taking something away that purely ... adds entertainment to the game. And the league doesn't like it, and that's fine. I think Jimmy knows in a real game, he wouldn't put the team in that situation."
Earlier in the offseason, Graham said he would find another way to celebrate after touchdowns.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun