Purdue linebacker has pick-six called back for excessive 'high-stepping'

Purdue linebacker Jalen Graham had a pick-six against Northwestern on Saturday. It just didn’t count because he had too much fun.

Graham was penalized for “high-stepping” into the end zone on the play that gave Purdue a three-score lead for a moment. Here’s the play in its entirety. You be the judge if Graham was celebrating too much.

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The penalty was even specifically for Graham’s steps.

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College football’s rules allow officials to penalize players who celebrate on their way to touchdowns. It’s a ridiculous idea that prevents players from having fun — this is a game after all — and puts too much pressure on officiating crews to determine what is and isn’t an appropriate level of celebration as a defender like Graham is enjoying something that doesn’t happen all that often.

In this case it’s blatantly obvious that the officiating crew interpreted the rule a little too literally. There have been unflagged celebrations much stronger than that all across college football this season. Thinking that Graham’s celebration crosses an unnecessary line is asinine.

Thankfully for Purdue, the Boilermakers had the lead already when Graham picked the ball off. But the penalty did cost Purdue points. The Boilermakers didn’t get into the end zone after the ball was spotted at the 35 thanks to a missed field goal. Purdue went on to win the game 17-9 and move to 7-4.

CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 12: Purdue Boilermakers linebacker Jalen Graham (6) defends during the college football game between the Purdue Boilermakers and the Illinois Fighting Illini on November 12, 2022, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 12: Purdue Boilermakers linebacker Jalen Graham (6) defends during the college football game between the Purdue Boilermakers and the Illinois Fighting Illini on November 12, 2022, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)