The 10 Most Innovative Touchdown Celebrations in NFL History

Dylan MacNamara@@DylanMacNamaraSenior Writer IJune 15, 2010

The 10 Most Innovative Touchdown Celebrations in NFL History

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    Dr. Harry Edwards, a professor of Sociology at Cal-Berkely who moonlights as a sports psychologist and consultant to the San Francisco 49ers, has studied the way athletes express themselves in professional sports. 

    In context, the touchdown celebration is a freedom of expression, a moment when the militaristic discipline of of football is shed for the pure joy of personal achievement. 

    And then, of course, there's the Ickey Shuffle. 

    From 1965 to the present day, check out the most innovative touchdown celebrations in NFL history.

Honorable Mention: Kelly Washington Does "The Squirrel"

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    But in 2007, little-used Kelly Washington showed his fluid hips weren't only useful for route running.

    "The Squirrel," as Washington dubbed it, combined goofiness, playfulness, and originality, three of the most important elements in a memorable endzone dance.


No. 10 T.O. Disrespects Big D

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    In many respects, Terrell Owens could be considered the Godfather of the modern touchdown celebration. Time and again he has displayed his creativity and complete lack of respect for his opponent.

    There is no better of an example of this than his celebration on the Dallas star in 2000. After scoring his first touchdown, Owens ran to midfield and spread out his arms like a football diety.

    He did it again late in the 4th quarter, and though he was decked by Cowboys safety George Teague, the celebration will forever be remembered as one of the all-time great "eff you" moments. 

No. 9 Steve Smith Row, Row, Rows His Boat

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    Remember the Vikings Love Boat scandal in 2005? A boat full of players and prostitutes?

    Carolina Panthers' receiver Steve Smith certainly did. After scoring a touchdown against the Vikings in 2005, Smith reminded Fred Smoot and all the other Vikings what they wanted to forget: they were facing serious legal trouble.

    The incorporation of a current event, a put-down of the opponent, and a chance to look ridiculous in the end zone? Check, check, and check. 

No. 8 Joe Horn Makes a Phone Call

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    After Terrell Owen's game-changing (forgive me for using the most overused buzz word of the 2008 election season) Sharpie celebration, NFL fans all waited with anticipation to see who would top him.

    Enter Joe Horn.

    The Saints receiver, after a catching a touchdown from Aaron Brooks, sprinted to the goalpost pulled out a cellphone.

    Who he called we may never know. What it signified, Joe Horn may not even know. But it was certainly one of the most creative celebrations the NFL will ever see. 

No. 7 The Mile High Salute

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    There is no more telling a sign of a cohesive unit than a team-choreographed celebration.

    In the late 1990s, during the Denver Broncos run of dominance, which culminated in two Super Bowl victories, the team’s skill position players punctuated each score with a military salute.

    The origin of the celebration came from the team’s starrunning back, Terrell Davis. Davis saluted after each touchdown as a tribute to his father who was serving in the military at the time.

    Interestingly, the NFL banned the Mile High Salute (in their never-ending quest to crush individuality) in the mid-2000s.

    Nevertheless, the Mile High Salute will forever be remembered as one of the NFL’s most innovative celebrations of all-time. 

No. 6 Ochocinco's Riverdance, Wedding Proposal, Golf Putt and More...

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    The wide receiver position in the NFL has become the poster-boy of the “me-first” attitude of the 21st century athlete. Chad Ochocinco is the poster boy for the poster boys.

    The first player in NFL history who had fans longing for him to score, just so they could see what ridiculous celebration he would do next, has had some of the most memorable touchdown celebrations ever. 

    I thought it best to keep all of Ochocinco’s greatest work in one slide and in one video in order to get the true effect of how just creative he has been. Disagree? Child please…

No. 5 Billy "White Shoes" Johnson Does the "Funky Chicken"

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    Johnson, a lightening quick waterbug of a return man for the Oilers in the 1970s, became the first player to creatively orchestrate a unique, premeditated end zone dance. And by "dance," I mean a knee-knocking gyration that would've made Tony Manero blush. 

    Fast-forward to the 2:40 minute mark of the below video to see exactly what we're talking about here.


No. 4 T.O. and His Sharpie

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    Innovation is often marked by great strides of personal ingenuity. From the Zack Morris cell phone to the iPhone, from the radio to the HD flat screen TV, and from the hug with a teammate to the prop-Touchdown celebration.

    In 2002, after scoring a touchdown against the Division rival Seattle Seahawks, Terrell Owens removed a Sharpie marker from his sock and signed the ball, before tossing it to his publicist in the stands.

    A monumental shift in touchdown celebrations had just occurred and things would never, ever be the same. 


No. 3 Deion Sanders Goes Primetime

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    Deion, and his Primetime dance, were the emblems of a new order in professional football. The glitz and glamour of the professional athlete in the late 1980s and into the '90s finally had a face. That face was the best cornerback who ever played the game. 


No. 2 The Lambeau Leap

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    While other celebrations have come and gone, no other team-orchestrated celebration has lasted as long as the Leap. 

    What makes the Leap so unique is its incorporation of the fans. Without the diehard Packers fans sitting in sub-freezing temperatures behind each end zone, the second most innovative NFL touchdown celebration would be impossible.


No. 1 Homer Jones and the Birth of the Spike

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    While Homer Jones' name might not reverberate through the rafters of sports immortality, what he did during a game in 1965 certainly does: Homer Jones, spiked the ball. 

    The grandfather of the NFL touchdown dance, and the creator of the most famous celebration in sports, Homer Jones sits atop our list.