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Saints' Graham vows to ditch TD celebration after penalties

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Jimmy Graham dunks
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Saints' Graham vows to ditch TD celebration after penalties
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 15: Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates a touchdown during a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 15, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 8: Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints dunks the football over the goal post after scoring a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 8, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Panthers 31-13. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 30: Tight end Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints dunks the ball over the goal post after scoring a 27-yard touchdown in the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 30, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 30: Tight end Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints dunks the ball over the goal post after scoring a 27-yard touchdown in the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 30, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 26: Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints dunks the football over the goal post after catching a touchdown pass against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 26, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Falcons 45-16. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR - MARCH 21: Jimmy Graham #00 of the Miami Hurricanes dunks in front of Omar Samhan #50 of the Saint Mary's Gaels during the first round of the South Regional as part of the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Alltel Arena on March 21, 2008 in North Little Rock, Arkansas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 02: Jimmy Graham #00 of the Miami Hurricanes dunks against the Duke Blue Devils during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 2, 2008 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke defeated Miami 88-73. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - MARCH 09: Jimmy Graham #00 of the Miami Hurricanes hangs on the rim after dunking in the first half against the Boston College Eagles in the quarterfinals of the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament at the St. Pete Times Forum March 9, 2007 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
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Old habits might die hard, but apparently a couple of unsportsmanlike penalties and an earful from an angry coach are enough to modify an NFL superstar's behavior.

New Orleans Saints All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham, penalized twice in Friday's preseason game against the Tennessee Titans for dunking the ball over the goalpost after scoring touchdowns, conceded he needs to find a new celebration, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

"For four years and however many touchdowns, I always dunked it," Graham said. "I just got to stop doing that now."

Graham was also seen catching heat on the sideline from head coach Sean Payton.

Saints' Lack Of Discipline Leads To 22 Penalties


Graham and Payton met over the weekend, the Times-Picayune reported, and apparently found common ground on the issue.

"I'm his biggest fan," Payton said. "I'm sure as we get going here that type of thing isn't going to be a problem. Rules are changing constantly whether we like them or voted for them or any of those things. He's outstanding. He'll be ready to go."

Graham was a two-sport star in football and basketball at the University of Miami, and though he's fashioned an excellent career as a professional on the gridiron, his signature dunk -- first popularized by another two-sport college star, the recently retired tight end Tony Gonzalez -- was an apparent nod to his hardwood roots.

The routine had seemed little more than a humorous footnote to six more points for the high-scoring Saints offense, but a bizarre incident late last season may have been a tipping point in the NFL's long-running game of Whac-A-Mole to stamp out inflammatory and overly orchestrated touchdown celebrations.

Graham caused a brief delay when he bent a goalpost with his celebratory dunk after scoring a 44-yard touchdown against the Falcons in November, and the league responded in the offseason by banning the move altogether.

Whether Graham disregarded or simply forgot the new rule on Friday is unclear -- Payton's remarks seem to indicate Graham may have brushed aside the edict in the inconsequential preseason game. But, Graham seems to have resolved to break himself of the practice.

We'll be watching once the regular season kicks off. The Saints open the season at Atlanta on Sept. 7.
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