Denver Broncos: Von Miller May Be the NFL's New King of Celebrations
Through three weeks of the 2012 season, Miller has already shown many of the keys of performance that his predecessors established before him. Whether Von Miller has the imagination, perseverance and willingness to pay the fines necessary to be the next great celebrator remains to be seen.
But only a couple weeks into his second season, he has already built a solid foundation to add his name to the Mount Rushmore of post-whistle entertainers.
How does Miller compare to the all-time greats? Let's take a look at the NFL's all-time top five performers and Miller's 2012 celebration portfolio to find out.
5. Ickey Woods
One of the first pioneers of the touchdown celebration, Ickey Woods christened his own signature dance move that quickly became known as the Ickey Shuffle. Despite its simplicity, it was loved by fans and fellow players who frequently joined in the celebration.
4. Merton Hanks
San Francisco 49ers defensive back Merton Hanks also created his own signature dance move. But what earned him his spot on this list was the ridiculousness of his dance. The jerky movements that resemble a convulsing chicken more than a funky chicken made this celebration even more notorious.
3. Chad Johnson/Ochocinco
Chad Johnson added two important components to the touchdown celebration. Through creativity and imagination, he produced celebration gems like performing CPR on the football and putting the football. But he also showed an ability to adapt to the current events as he showed here, dropping to his knees in tribute to Chris Henry, a Bengals receiver who had recently passed away.
2. Terrell Owens
Second on the list is Chad Johnson's partner in crime: T.O. Owens took imagination to a whole new level. From eating a fan's popcorn to borrowing a cheerleader's pom pom's to his iconic pose on the Dallas Cowboys star, he embodied the imaginative and varied celebrations.
1. Deion Sanders
The top of any celebration list must belong to Deion Sanders, the man who frequently began his celebrations prior to actually finishing the play. His high steps and single-hand grips are so notorious that they have been given the biggest compliment that can be given to a true performer: imitation. As shown here, Sanders has inspired a new generation of eager high-steppers and end-zone dancers.
And then there are the many players who have excelled when given the opportunity to strut their stuff but simply do not have the celebration resume to crack the top five. Players like B.J. Raji, Joe Horn and Steve Smith have provided moments of brilliance, but simply do not have the body of work as the others.
But where does Von Miller fall in this discussion? Although he has had limited time to establish his name among the NFL's all-time great celebrators, he has already produced four plays in 2012 that point to great things in the future.
Von Miller's Opening Act
In Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miller set the standard for the rest of his celebrations. It was not flashy or over the top, but it clearly let his audience know that he is here to entertain. Raising his hands, he drew the attention of the crowd and then beautifully executed a short Funky Chicken rendition.
Von Miller: Social Commentator
Shortly thereafter, Miller got to Roethlisberger again. This time, he showed he was not a one-trick pony, but a linebacker aware of the news surrounding his team. Following his sack, he dropped to a knee, paying tribute to (or maybe mocking) his team's former quarterback, Tim Tebow, who was traded in the offseason.
Von Miller Flaunts His Repertoire
The following week against the Atlanta Falcons, Miller showed he has more than one dance move in his arsenal, improving upon his initial performance. While his first dance against the Steelers was simple and focused on knee movement, his second effort here is much more complex. Notice how he utilizes two centers of motion, incorporating the swim move with the pelvic oscillation. This increase in movement correlates directly to an increase in fan amusement.
Von Miller Inspires His Team
Lastly, Miller is following in Deion Sanders' footsteps. The best performers in the NFL changed the culture around them to one of celebration and maybe a little taunting. Here, in the Broncos' Week 3 game, Wesley Woodyard celebrates his interceptions in a way that would make Miller proud.
Woodyard showed that the other Broncos are taking note of the new culture being introduced by Von Miller. And if he continues the glorious celebrations he has demonstrated in the first three weeks of his sophomore season, it will not be long until Miller is part of the pantheon of other great NFL celebration kings.