Goalpost dunks will draw flags

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Not only is the New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham redefining the tight end position, but he has also inspired an NFL rule change. According to the league's vice president of officiating, players will no longer be allowed to dunk the ball over the goalpost after touchdowns.

Dean Blandino confirmed the rule change during a radio interview with "The Dan Patrick Show" on Tuesday. He said dunking the ball over the crossbar will now be considered a foul along with other touchdown celebrations that involve props.

Previously, dunks were grandfathered in as a legal celebration, along with the Lambeau Leap.

"We grandfathered in some, the Lambeau Leap and things like that, but dunking will come out," Blandino said, according to NFL.com. "Using the ball as a prop or any object as a prop, whether that's the goalpost, the crossbar, that will come out and that will be a foul next season."

Graham is clearly the main inspiration for the rule. Twice in his career, his celebratory dunks have knocked the uprights off balance. Last season in Atlanta, a Thursday night game had to be delayed while workers releveled the crossbar.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told ESPN.com that "the potential delay of game for having to reset the cross bar after being knocked askew by a dunker" was the main issue, and that was "not the case" for the Lambeau Leap.

No player in the NFL will be more affected by the rule change than Graham, who has caught more touchdown passes over the past three seasons (36) than anyone else in the league. A former basketball player at the University of Miami, the 6-foot-7 Graham has made the goalpost dunk his trademark celebration.

Graham responded to the news in a tweet Tuesday afternoon, saying: "I guess I'll have to lead the @nfl in penalties next year!" along with a photo-shopped picture of a referee jumping to block his attempt to dunk a ball over the crossbar. He later deleted the tweet.

Packers writer Robert Demovsky of ESPN.com contributed to this report.
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