During the NFL's spring meeting, the rules committee has decided to penalize players who "dunk" the pigskin over the field goal uprights. NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino confirmed the rule change on the Dan Patrick Show, noting that dunks will be penalized starting in the 2014 season along with other touchdown celebrations that require props.
In the past, some post touchdown celebrations like the Dunk and the Lambeau Leap had been grandfathered from prohibitions against excessive celebrations.
This NFL anti-dunking policy will most profoundly effect New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham as he has caught 36 touchdown passes over the last three seasons, the most in the NFL. Ironically, the dunking ban may have been prompted by Graham's exuberant upright celebrations. Graham has twice bent the uprights with his dunks causing delays in the game. Reacting to rumors that the NFL would impose this rule, Jimmy Graham posted on Twitter:
While delays called by "bending the uprights" by dunking might give some rational basis for the rules change, the further quashing of celebrations after touchdowns contributes to New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Kenny Stills' biting quip that the NFL is becoming the No Fun League.
This NFL rule change comes in the middle of the NCAA's March Madness. Some sports fans have gravitated from professional sports to college sports because the pros have less genuine enthusiasm while college players often wear their emotions on their sleeves. Continued tamping down on "excessive celebrations" may make athletes into the equivalent of automatons which would alienate emotion driven fans.