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Starting next season, the NFL will no longer allow players to dunk the ball over the goal post crossbar in celebration of scoring a touchdown.
Insert obligatory joke about the NFL standing for the “No Fun League” here.
Awful acronym jokes aside, I am disappointed that I won’t be seeing any celebratory dunks this coming season. But not for the reason you might think. (Hint: I don’t care to see New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, who inspired the rule change, show off his ups.)
Allow me to explain. It’s not that I think the league overstepped its bounds. Considering Graham alone caused game delays on two occasions when his dunks upended goal posts and knocked them off balance, it’s understandable the NFL would want to deter such a thing.
And really, does anyone care to see a hyperathletic 6’7″ guy prove he can throw an oblong object over a 10′ high cross bar? You score a touchdown, and decide to celebrate by entering a glorified one-man layup line? If anything, the rule should be a positive for Graham in that it might just inspire him to find a more creative way to celebrate the touchdown passes he catches from Drew Brees.
No, the real tragedy is the loss of those dunkers who DO have something to prove by slipping the football over the goal post. I’m talking about the backup tight end who lumbers in for a touchdown out of the flat (Matthew Mulligan, anyone?), the 6′, 250-pound linebacker who takes an interception or fumble recovery to the house, and that future moment I pray for when Tom Brady attempts to dunk the football after a successful QB sneak for a touchdown. Why should they, and more importantly, the fans who get to witness such vertical ineptitude, be denied this one shining moment?
Therefore, I hereby propose an amendment to the rule in which the penalty is only enforced when the goal post is knocked off balance, or the person attempting it is over 6′, or is named Jimmy Graham. If the dunk celebration was originally grandfathered in, can’t we grandfather in those players we most want to see try to dunk a football, just as Mariano Rivera got to keep #42? In this age of social media and fan participation, we could even have a fan vote designating such vertically challenged players. Win-win!
Otherwise, we’re going to have to resort to other cross-sport celebrations. As much as I love baseball, sorry, but I don’t think that’s going to work out so well. Hockey? Please. Soccer, maybe, but only in a World Cup year. [Checks calendar.]
Hey, maybe this new penalty flag will work out after all.