The no crossbar dunk just the latest example of too many rules

Jared Wickerham

On Tuesday, the NFL passed a new rule which will prohibit an NFL player from dunking a football over the goal post as a way of celebrating a touchdown. While this is just an extension of a pre-existing rule which prohibits using the football as a prop, is enforcing it really necessary?

In my line of work, you must expect a visit or two from the health department each year, and no matter how in shape you think your workplace actually is, it's virtually impossible for an inspector to leave without citing some infraction that he or she would like to see taken care of by the next visit.

Every time my boss shows me the latest "violation," we both always come to the same conclusion: "They have to find SOMETHING when they come here in-order to justify their jobs."

Justifying its existence is how I occasionally feel about the NFL's competition committee that meets annually to propose and implement new rules for the upcoming season; some of these rules are necessary for player-safety and to make the game better; others, well, they make you scratch your head just a tad.

Many fans may have been left scratching their heads on Tuesday when the NFL announced that dunking the football over the goal post as part of a touchdown celebration will now be unsportsmanlike and subject to a 15 yard penalty, starting in 2014.

According to the CBS Sports story linked in the previous paragraph, the main reason for this change is to prevent the one-in-a Jimmy Graham chance that such a celebration could result in a bent goal post and cause a delay and/or injury to a player or spectator.

Graham, the Saints talented and athletically gifted hybrid tight end, caused such a thing to happen during a game in Atlanta last year (a bent goal post and a delay, not an injury) after performing a goal post dunk following a touchdown.

Unless you're Graham (the goal post dunk has become his post-TD signature) what reason would anyone have to care about this new rule?

Because it's just the latest in a long line of rules put forth by the committee that have nothing to do with actual competition and could potentially alter the outcome of an NFL contest.

We already have too many rules like this; do we really need another one?

Would an actual NFL official potentially alter the end of an important game because some over-zealous player dunked a football over the goal post?

According to Dean Blandino, the NFL's VP of Officiating, the dunking rule is just an extension of a pre-existing rule that prohibits using the football as a prop:

"That was grandfathered in. We put in a rule about five or six years ago about using the ball as a prop," Blandino said. "We grandfathered in the Lambeau Leap and some things like that. But dunking will come out. Using the ball as a prop--or using any object as a prop, like the goal post or cross bar--that will come out and that will be a foul next season."

So, let me get this straight, if a player dunks the football over the goal post, he's using it as a prop, but if he spikes it on the ground, he's doing what?

And I guess it's OK to use the fans as props because, as everyone knows, there's no potential safety hazards involved with players jumping into the stands.

As an NFL fan, I already have enough things to complain and argue about during your average season (it's rather exhausting); now I have to prepare myself to argue about the Steelers potentially missing the playoffs thanks to a goal post dunking controversy?

Can you say micro-management? Can you say too many bleepin rules?

NFL competition committee, may a receiver catch a touchdown pass near the end of a crucial game next season; may he then get up and dunk the football over the goal post which will result in a 15 yard penalty; may your officials then overturn the touchdown upon further review because the receiver didn't maintain possession all the way through until he took a nap; may your officials enforce the 15 yard penalty, anyway, which will result in the offense having to settle for a field goal that will be 15 yards further back from the previous line of scrimmage; may the penalized team then miss the playoffs after its kicker fails to boot the football in-between the uprights thanks to that football being too far from the goal post.

I will laugh.....unless it happens to the Steelers--it's a good thing all their receivers are short, and Heath Miller just had ACL surgery not too long ago.

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