New York Giants: Ranking Team's Best Big Play Celebrations Both Past and Present
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Giants fans have held on tight for a roller coaster ride during the past month. After reaching a season-low against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10, New York recuperated during a much-needed bye week and came out strong against Green Bay in Week 12, slaughtering quarterback Aaron Rogers and his Packers, 38-10.
Only one week later, the team fell to the division rival Washington Redskins, sending the optimistic fan base hurdling back towards Earth. With three losses in four games, things were not looking good for Big Blue.
However, for the Giants, there was much to celebrate during their 52-27 romping of the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. There will be even more to celebrate if the squad can pull off similar performances against Atlanta, Baltimore and Philadelphia in the final three weeks of the season.
While on top, let's take the time to chronicle some of New York's best big play celebrations, as we've learned that the good times can be extremely fleeting.
All-Time No. 4: Barry Cofield Tases Himself
It may not have been the most iconic celebration in Giants history, but Barry Cofield’s “taser” sack dance was certainly memorable.
Cofield first showcased his signature dance on Dec. 13, 2010 versus the Minnesota Vikings. After taking down quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in the second quarter, Cofield raised an imaginary taser to his belly and celebrated his fourth sack of the season.
Something about watching a 305-pound defensive tackle simulate full-body convulsions is slightly scarring, as most Giants fans recall the dance quite vividly.
Redskins fans got their first taste of Cofield’s sack dance on Oct. 7, 2012 against the Atlanta Falcons after he kept them waiting for the entire 2011 season.
All-Time No. 3: Mark Bavaro Takes a Knee
TE Mark Bavaro sheds would-be tacklers.
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Bavaro, a hard-working tight end and reliable pass target for quarterback Phil Simms, played six seasons in New York, amassing 266 receptions, 3,722 yards and 28 touchdowns. On many of those scores, Bavaro took the time to thank the man upstairs right there in the end zone.
Bavaro’s most famous moment of prayer came during the 1986 season, the first of his two All-Pro seasons with the Giants. In Super Bowl XXI, Bavaro caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Simms.
The hard-nosed tight end then took a knee in front of 100,000-plus fans in attendance at Rose Bowl Stadium and an estimated 87.19 million television viewers, as his team went on to stomp out the Denver Broncos, 39-20.
All-Time No. 2: The Gatorade Shower
LB Harry Carson perfected the Gatorade Shower.
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To the dismay of many Giants fans, Brian Cronin of the Los Angeles Times debunked the urban legend that New York invented the “Gatorade Shower.” In his article, Cronin tracks the postgame tradition back to Mike Ditka’s 1984 Chicago Bears squad, but he attributes its rise in popularity to the Giants’ 1986 Super Bowl season.
Giants nose guard Jim Burt first dunked head coach Bill Parcells on Oct. 20, 1985 against the Washington Redskins, according to Cronin. Later, Burt passed the celebration duties on to linebacker Harry Carson, who was an established and well-respected member of New York’s championship defense.
The Hall of Famer creatively kept the tradition alive, disguising himself as a sideline security guard to fool Parcells once and even giving then-president Ronald Reagan a popcorn version of the dunk during the team’s trip to the White House in 1987.
Through Carson’s persistence, the Gatorade Shower became one of the most practiced postgame celebrations.
All-Time No. 1: Homer Jones’ Spike
The Spike has become one of the most popular TD celebrations.
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New York wide receiver Homer Jones, who was preceded by all-time Giants great Frank Gifford, began his unlikely professional career as a 20th-round draft pick. However, after six seasons, 35 touchdowns and the invention of arguably the most iconic touchdown celebration ever, Jones firmly stamped his name in both Giants and NFL history.
Jones, a notorious deep-threat receiver, invented the spike in the mid-1960s. Some want to blame Jones’ spike for opening the door for the more ridiculous and elaborate touchdown entertainers, such as the Houston Oilers’ kick returner Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau and, later, all playmakers across the NFL.
However, many don’t realize that Jones’ “celebration” was actually an act to keep him out of trouble. After watching his teammates Gifford and Alex Webster launch the ball into the stands for years, Jones was forced to make an adjustment, as he explained to Erik Brady of USA Today in 2009:
[NFL Commissioner Pete] Rozelle changed the rules, and it was a $500 fine if you threw the ball in the grandstand. So when I crossed the goal line, my mind snapped on the reality that, in 1965, $500 was a lot of money. So, I threw the ball down, and people liked it and I carried it on through my career, like a trademark. And pretty soon a lot of people were doing it.
The spike has certainly lasted the test of time, as it has become nearly impossible to watch a full NFL game without seeing a superstar drive the ball into the ground after putting six points up on the scoreboard.
Current No. 4: Osi Umenyiora’s Airplane
DE Osi Umenyiora has the speed of an airplane.
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Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora has made a living chasing down quarterbacks since 2003. For a 260-pound defensive lineman, Umenyiora has blazing speed, and he characterizes that by spreading his arms and “flying” back to the sideline after collecting a crucial quarterback sack.
Umenyiora has 75 sacks and 32 forced fumbles over the course of his nine-season career. Many of those sacks—and strip-sacks—were a product of Umenyiora’s patented speed rush.
When speed rushing, Umenyiora jumps the snap count, dips his inside shoulder, slides past the offensive tackle and crashes into the quarterback. The move resembles an airplane making a sharp, banking turn.
Current No. 3: Ahmad Bradshaw’s Jump-Spike
RB Ahmad Bradshaw celebrates against Washington.
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Running back Ahmad Bradshaw is a tough runner, and he caps off some of his roughest rushes with an exclamatory celebration. When Bradshaw scores he performs a unique version of the Homer Jones spike, adding a jump and a 180-degree twist before slamming the ball into the ground.
Over the past six seasons, Bradshaw has carried the ball 896 times, making him one of New York’s most taxed workhorses. On 31 of those carries, Bradshaw has found the end zone.
After pounding the ball incessantly, racking up the tough yardage, Bradshaw takes a moment to release his energy in celebration. The rejoicing is well deserved, as all work and no play makes Ahmad a dull boy.
Current No. 2: David Wilson’s Back Flip
We may not see many more flips by RB David Wilson.
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In running back David Wilson’s breakout performance against the New Orleans Saints last Sunday, the rookie ran his way into the NFL record books as the first player to have 100 rushing yards and 200 kick return yards in a single game.
Wilson added three touchdowns in Week 14 (two rushing, one kick return), but his electricity did not end there. The amazingly agile acrobat of a back highlighted each of his three scores with a back flip.
Wilson first showcased his mind-bending athleticism back in April on his YouTube channel. The recent draftee uploaded two videos of himself back flipping his way into oblivion.
Unfortunately, as impressive as Wilson’s touchdown dance is, it sounds like it will be short-lived one. General manager Jerry Reese knows that first-round draft picks don’t grow on trees, and that’s why he threatened to be in Wilson’s “grill” if he sees anymore flipping (via Jenny Vrentas The Star-Ledger).
Current No. 1: Victor Cruz’s Salsa
WR Victor Cruz's salsa is larger than life.
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Wide receiver Victor Cruz is still enjoying his unprecedented rise to fame after last year’s unlikely Super Bowl run. Since signing with IMG Worldwide, an endorsement negotiation agency, in February, Cruz has become one of the NFL’s most marketable athletes, partially due to his signature touchdown celebration: the salsa.
Cruz’s first salsa came in Week 3 of the 2011 season. Against the Eagles, the virtually unknown receiver torched the newly assembled “Dream Team” defense for two touchdowns on only three grabs (110 yards). The dance was originally meant to honor Hispanic Heritage Month, as Cruz is half Puerto Rican, but the dance has since taken off as a cultural phenomenon.
In the days leading up to the Giants’ Week 6 match-up with the San Francisco 49ers this past October, Cruz’s salsa became a source of conflict. The 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers, who had mocked the dance in the past, originally promised that he would salsa again if he recorded an interception against the Giants in 2012.
However, after Cruz explained that the celebration was a “tribute” to his late grandmother, Lucy Molina, Rogers agreed to not imitate the superstar’s trademark celebration.
Giants fans hope that Cruz, who already has 18 touchdowns in less than two full seasons, will keep salsa-ing for years to come.