Jimmy Graham: Have to stop dunks

ByMike Triplett ESPN logo
Monday, August 18, 2014

METAIRIE, La. -- Jimmy Graham stopped short of saying he regrets his goalpost dunks from Friday night, which drew two penalty flags and led to a shouting match between the New Orleans Saints tight end and coach Sean Payton on the sideline.

But Graham insisted Sunday that he "would never do anything to hurt the team" in the regular season.

"You know, for four years and however many touchdowns, I've always dunked it. And I just gotta stop doing that now," said Graham, though he made it clear that he's still not on board with the NFL's new rule to ban his preferred touchdown celebration -- which he said is "not hurting anyone."

Both Payton and Graham spoke positively about a meeting the two had with each other over the weekend, though they didn't offer any specific details.

Payton chased down Graham after the second goalpost dunk last Friday, which led to a brief but emotional shouting match between the two.

"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."

Added Graham: "Well, you know, Coach over the last couple weeks, we've met quite a bit and talked about a lot of things. And that's what makes him so special is he has a personal relationship with every one of us. And he treats us like men and expects us to act like men."

Graham also insisted that the sideline exchange with Payton had nothing to do with any lingering animosity over Graham's contract talks with the Saints this summer.

"Oh no. None whatsoever," Graham said. "He's my coach, and I listen to him. And we're having a conversation between me and him."

Quarterback Drew Brees also said he doesn't believe the exchange between Graham and Payton went beyond the emotion of the moment.

"Yeah, that's just emotions running high," said Brees, who didn't have much to add when asked for his reaction to the dunks themselves. "I mean whatever, no comment, we've beat that thing to death," Brees said. "I'm not worried about Jimmy."

Graham said his dunks were more spur of the moment than any planned protest against the NFL, which adopted the new rule this offseason in part because Graham himself knocked two goalposts ajar in the past. That's why it's been dubbed by many as "The Jimmy Graham rule."

When asked if he regrets the dunks, Graham paused for a long moment.

"I feel like that's a trick question," Graham said. "I mean, I can't take it back. I mean it's preseason, too."

But Graham did crack on himself a little bit for the way he's been so reluctant to stop dunking so far.

"The rule [is] unfortunate because I just love the game. I have a lot of passion for the game. And when I go out there on Sunday, it's fun for me," Graham said. "And I feel like a little kid out there. And sometimes I act like it."

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