Ranking the NFL's Current Top Signature Touchdown Celebrations
The NFL often gets a rap as the No Fun League and the nickname isn’t totally unjustified.
Roger Goodell and his team of Dudley-Do-Rights have come down pretty hard recently for gratuitous celebrations—though Paul Taglibue’s crew started the wave.
There is always a slightly tense moment when your team scores. The guy with the six points starts nodding exaggeratedly and thrashing about as teammates try to hug him, and you see his tongue come out and you’re thinking, “Eaaasy, eaaaasy, no dancing, chillllllll, just chillllll—No, damn it!”
Fifteen yards and a buzz kill.
But even though they’re largely against the law anymore, let’s take a look at the bedrock touchdown celebrations of the NFL.
Over the years, players have gotten, um, creative with how they cap off their six points and so have teams with trademark moves like the "Mile High Salute" and the "Dirty Bird," but there are a few basic end-zone shenanigans that can never be forgotten.
The Ochocinco Mentions
I’m pretty sure it’s in the Geneva Conventions that you can’t discuss touchdown celebrations, ever, under any circumstances, without mentioning Chad Johnson.
Now that he’s gaming up in that Patriots’ locker room and claiming new leaves have been turned over, we’ve likely seen the last of his creative end-zone antics. That, and he’s old and not that good a wide receiver anymore.
But you can never forget about the time he…
…proposed to a cheerleader
…did that weird Riverdance thing
...took over the end-zone camera
...putted with a pylon
…wrote a sign to Roger Goodell asking not to be fined…
The Terrell Owens Non-Mentions
Terrell Owens has a laundry list of touchdown celebrations but the problem is that they were never funny.
You always watched TO and couldn’t help but think, “Man, that guy’s a jerk.”
In the words of Mac and Thorny, Ochocinco’s shenanigans were cheeky and fun; TO’s shenanigans were cruel and tragic.
No. 6: Dancing
This is your basic touchdown celebration.
You do a gig, pretend you’re in da club, maybe square dance. You get out those jitters from charging 80 yards down the field.
The problem is that there really is no dance that’s that funny to watch anymore. It’s a standard, but they’re rarely interesting.
No. 5: Abusing the Goalposts
It’s not clear where boxing the goalpost really originated, but the move was made popular by Ken Norton Jr, as an homage to his heavyweight fighting dad.
However, we’re not counting all those years that people were slamming into the goalpost because the league thought it’d be a good idea to put it in front of the end zone.
Since Norton’s time, giving the goalpost the ol’ one-two has become a nice go-to. It combines an appropriate level of exorcising that last bit of aggression along with a nice dose of humor.
The other twist on this is dunking on the goalpost. Tony Gonzalez is known for this, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t the first, nor will be the last.
The uprights are just a waiting stage.
Number 4: The Ball as a Prop
The canvas of a football’s possible uses are endless. It can be a grenade. It can be a chainsaw to cut down the goalposts. You can poop it out. You can pretend it’s a newborn baby. It can be a violin. It can be a pillow. It can even be a surfboard if your balance is right.
As soon as a guy breaks the plane with it, that ball can turn into just about any tool for taunting. Just about any new way to utilize an oblong football will end up being entertaining.
Number 3: The Spike
This is likely the original touchdown celebration. You take that damn ball, that you’ve been carting all over the field, getting pounded in the process, and slam it into the ground. Hell, yeah.
As noted before, touchdown celebrations are that final release from trudging the length of the field, like an exclamation point on the end of a very long and painful sentence.
Smashing that stupid, oblong ball into the ground is that punctuation mark.
Number 2: The Crowd Leap
I know this should be called the Lambeau Leap. But it’s spread enough throughout the rest of the league that Green Bay has lost the patent on it.
It’s like a common law marriage; only Packers fans and dedicated students of history fret, “why did he do the Lambeau Leap?” when a guy jumps into the crowd.
No matter the state of the move, this was one of the best celebrations invented in one of the greatest stadiums for one of the greatest fanbases. Nothing says, “We appreciate your support” than jumping headlong into the crowd.
Players spend so much time “at a distance” from the crowd that there truly is something special in bridging that gap when six points get thrown on the board. It’s that one time fans can palpably sense a player reaching into their world.
No. 1: Hand the Ball to the Ref
Yes. This is the best touchdown celebration in the game. I’m not going to give a lecture on being mature or any of that other old-timer yammering.
This is the best celebration in the game because it shows you belong in the end zone. It ain’t no thang. You scored, and now, you’re going to jog back to the sidelines and get ready to do it again.
The problem with every other celebration is that it takes away the installation of fear. No one fears a man dancing or using cheerleaders pom poms.
When a defense sees you celebrate and hop around, pull out a sharpie, call someone on a cell phone or run to the middle of the field and stand on the star, the only thought running through those linebackers and safeties mind is, “I’m going to thump that guy next time.”
You’re just firing up the other team.
But when you act like you’ve been there, it's no big deal, scoring touchdowns is just what you do…now you’re in their heads.
And that, is the point of the celebration.
[Caleb says other things at www.twitter.com/calebgarling]