Jimmy Graham criticized by Sean Payton for dunks

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was penalized twice for unsportsmanlike conduct for celebrating a pair of touchdowns with a pair of slam dunks over the goalposts.

Graham was chastised by Saints coach Sean Payton on the field and was criticized by him after the game.

The Saints were penalized 22 times, drawing Payton's ire.

Payton was especially mad at Graham.

"Well, would that make sense? Would you be upset?" Payton asked. "Yeah, I was. Particularly."

Graham declined interview requests.

The celebrations by Graham were outlawed this offseason by the NFL. It's been characterized as the Jimmy Graham rule. Graham has previously knocked goalposts off-kilter with his celebrations.

"I understand Jimmy's frustration with that rule change. I understand what he's doing," offensive tackle Zach 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 doesn't think that Graham would do anything to hurt the team intentionally.

"I know that Jimmy is not a selfish guy. He wouldn't do that in a situation that it would really hurt us. And yet, Jimmy knows that can't go on," Strief said. "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."

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Aaron Wilson
Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post, his second stint at the Post. He has previously written for Pro Football Talk and FOX Sports-Scout. Entering his 13th year covering the Baltimore Ravens, he's a beat writer for The Baltimore Sun. Wilson has also covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans.

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