NEW ORLEANS -- They are the dunks that keep on giving to everyone except New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, that is.
Graham now faces fines totaling $33,075 for his two celebratory goalpost dunks during Friday's game against the Tennessee Titans, according to the NFL's schedule of fines, which calls for a fine of $11,025 on a first unsportmanlike conduct offense and $22,050 for a second. The fine has not yet officially been announced.
The Saints tight end, who signed a four-year, $40 million contract during the offseason after a highly-publicized franchise-tag dispute and protracted contract negotions, was whistled for an unsportmanlike conduct penalty following each of his two touchdown receptions on Friday. The first touchdown was a six-yard strike, the second, a 19-yarder, both from Luke McCown.
Graham stressed he 'would never do anything to hurt the team' in the regular season and that the two goalpost rattlers were more of a spontaneous celebration, rather than a planned protest of the NFL's new rule banning them.
'For four years and however many touchdowns, I've always dunked it. I've just got to stop doing that now,' he said.
Graham disagreed that his anti-authoritarian display was over the top, though.
'It's a penalty and some kind of fine, which is unfortunate because I'm not hurting anybody,' he said.
However, his coach probably didn't see it quite that way, and after the second penalty, chased him down, which led to a brief, but heated sideline exchange.
'Listen, I'm his biggest fan,' Payton said. 'And I'm sure as we get going here, that type of thing isn't going to be a problem. You know, rules are changing constantly whether we like them or whether we voted for them or any of those things. But listen, he's outstanding. He'll be ready to go. And then what took place in the meeting will be between he and I.'
Graham insisted there are no lingering animosities with Payton after Friday's sideline exchange or from when the coach testified for the Saints during Graham's offseason franchise-tag dispute.
'Over the last couple of weeks we (he and Coach Payton) have met quite a bit and talked about a lot of things,' Graham said. 'That's what makes him so special, is that he has a personal relationship with each and every one of us. He treats us like men, and he expects us to act like men. ... He's my coach and I listen to him.'
Still, Graham wouldn't go so far as to guarantee the two dunks would be his last.
'Well, I don't really know you like that (laughter),' he told the media. 'I can't guarantee you that, but I would never do anything to hurt this team.'