New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said he understands -- get the points, not the penalties.
Graham said Sunday he will no longer dunk to celebrate touchdown receptions, which became part of the former college basketball player's routine during his rookie season, and for most of his 41 scores.
But with the offseason rule change that penalizes players for "dunking" the ball over the goalpost, Graham drew two penalties and the ire of head coach Sean Payton during Friday's preseason game.
"You know, for four years and however many touchdowns, I've always dunked it. And I just gotta stop doing that now," said Graham, who vowed to never do anything to hurt the team.
Offensive tackle Zach Strief said Graham is frustrated by the rule change and was making his point in the preseason.
Payton chased Graham down the sideline to express his frustration. Two days later, Payton explained his anger.
"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 said he respects Payton and his coach's ability to form meaningful relationships with his players by "treating them like men." Now, the tight end said, it's time to act like one.
"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."