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NFL takes dunking out of football

New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham spikes the ball

New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham spikes the ball through the goal posts after he scored a touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Monday, Dec. 2, 2013. Credit: AP

ORLANDO, Fla. - If you want to see a slam dunk, from now on you'll have to stick to watching basketball.

Dean Blandino, the NFL's vice president of officiating, told the "Dan Patrick Show" yesterday that dunking on the crossbar after a touchdown will now draw a penalty. In recent years the crossbar-shaking dunks of players such as Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez, and even the Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul have become the go-to celebration for those with enough ups to throw it down. Now, the dunk is going the way of the two-handed set shot.

Interestingly, the decision has nothing to do with any new rules that have been discussed or amended here at the NFL's annual meetings. The rule against using the football as a prop in celebrations has been on the books for several years. It's just now going to be enforced on dunking.

As if on cue, some of the league's premier player voiced outrage over losing their right to dunk. Graham, the Saints' 6-7 All-Pro tight end who also played college basketball at Miami (Fla.), tweeted a picture of himself going up for a post-touchdown slam only to be rejected by a Photoshopped referee.

"I guess I'll have to lead the in penalties next year," he wrote as a caption. Gonzalez also tweeted his dissatisfaction. "This one I don't understand," the recently retired tight end wrote. "Looks like I got out just in time."

And it wasn't only the players who have made it their signature move who were upset.

"They want players to be robots or they will penalize," Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman posted. "Next is chest bumps and high-fives."

Even newly signed Giants offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz weighed in. "Cross dunking the ball over goal post off my celebration list when I score a TD," the 340-pounder wrote. "Who am I kidding, I can't jump that high anyways."

Although the slam ban received the most attention, there were two new rules that were passed at the meetings. Referees will now be allowed to consult with league officials in New York when they examine replays on challenged calls.

The referee still will make the ultimate call on whether to overturn or uphold a decision made on the field, but the already existing NFL Officiating Command Center in New York will begin to review replays immediately after the call is challenged. By the time the referee gets to the relay area, league officials will be able to advise the referee on what to look for.

The league also voted to ban "roll-up" blocks, tweaking the rule that bans these blocks from behind to now include hits from the side as well.

New York Sports