The Ultimate List of Premature Sports Celebrations

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2015

The Ultimate List of Premature Sports Celebrations

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    CHRIS OMEARA/Associated Press

    I don't know about you, but there aren't many times in my life I can think of when being premature is a positive thing.

    And in sports, it's absolutely, undeniably negative.

    Whether it's celebrating a victory too early, showboating before actually scoring or coasting toward the finish rather than keeping a foot on the gas, there have been some insane moments of premature celebrations in the world of sports.

    With so many to choose from, here's the ultimate list of them, with instances that have been ingrained into sports fans' minds forever.

This Overeager Cyclist

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    No hands, no problem—unless you're this unfortunate cyclist.

    There's a time in everyone's life when, riding a bike, they attempt to do so by taking their hands off of the handlebars, hoping they can brag a little bit that they're a daredevil.

    I would highly suggest not doing so during a competitive race, though, as this guy found out by trying to boast about a certain victory, only to lose control and crash, costing him the win.

    Next time, I hope he just rides it out till the end.

Way-Too-Confident Fans

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    Confidence is, typically, never a bad thing. Overconfidence, however, certainly is.

    One Kentucky Wildcats men's hoops fan found that out the very difficult way this past month, as the Cats failed in their quest to become the first 40-0 national champion ever, and the first unbeaten team in men's college hoops since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.

    Sporting a tattoo that had already declared UK as the winner, Big Blue Nation diehard Rock Wright is now reminded every single day of his regrettable ink, as the team fell in the Final Four to the Wisconsin Badgers.

    Having faith in a team is one thing. But taking it to this type of extreme sure is a bit over-the-top.

The John Tyler Lions

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    It's only natural for a human being to get a little comfortable when they're standing on the sideline of a football team leading 41-17 with just 3:03 left to play in the game.

    But, when things quickly turn sour—as in, the opponent runs off 27 straight points in just under three minutes to take the lead—that's when you think, "Holy crap, why did we think this thing was over?"

    Thankfully for the team who got a little bit too comfortable—in this case, the John Tyler Lions—their opponent, the Plano East Panthers, fell asleep for 11 seconds, giving up a 97-yard kickoff return touchdown that, ultimately, gave the Lions the victory they thought they always had.

    That doesn't mean that the Texas high school should have made it as difficult as they did, though—even if they did end up with the victory.

Dwayne Rudd

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    If you've read some of my other stuff before, you probably know that I am a diehard Cleveland sports fan, having grown up in northeast Ohio and being tortured with pain and sorrow in my 30 years since.

    One of the most memorable moments came in the opening game of the 2002 NFL season for my Browns, though, showing that there really must be something in the Cleveland water that causes the most absurd things to happen.

    With the clock hitting zero just after the ball was snapped by Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Trent Green, Browns linebacker Dwayne Rudd believed that he had taken the signal-caller down, ending the game and giving the Dawg Pound an opening-day win.

    Oh, Dwayne, you silly dude, it's Cleveland; it's never that simple.

    Caught up in the moment, Rudd ripped his own helmet off and tossed it across the turf, unaware that the play was, in fact, not over, as the Chiefs offensive lineman rumbled and tumbled up the field.

    With the boneheaded play by Rudd, the Chiefs got a free 15 yards and kicked the game-winner in an untimed down, turning the tables on what was a Cleveland victory and stealing a 40-39 win.

This Soccer Goalie

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    In sports, we fans have seen some of the craziest things happen.

    A weird bounce here or an in-between hop there, and sometimes nature takes over and the outcome of a play is nothing but fate—and this would be one of those plays.

    I'm not sure what sort of luck this Italian goalie had before this penalty shot, but seeing how it ended for him, it proved to be bad.

    With an opposing player hitting the crossbar on his attempt, some gnarly backspin kept the ball inching closer and closer to crossing the goal line, as the goalie was already celebrating the miss.

    Unbeknownst to him, the play was still alive, and the ball ended up in the back of the net, ultimately becoming the deciding factor in the 5-4 game.

High School Team, Columbia River

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    As most of these examples prove, losing in a heartbreaking way is always difficult, as players and fans get stunned at how some games end.

    But a game between high school teams Skyview and Columbia River a couple of years ago takes the cake as one of the most bizarre finishes I've ever seen.

    Blocking a field-goal attempt that they believed had just won them the game, Skyview hopped up and down in exuberance, celebrating a hard-fought victory.

    It's too bad that, as that was happening, Columbia River scooped up the football and ran into the end zone for the winning points, stunning everyone who, just seconds earlier, was certain the game was over.

Tanguy Pepiot

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    Ah, yes, the inspiration for my article, as this premature celebration from last week was the one that got the wheels spinning as to what have been some of the most unfortunate moments in sports.

    Sadly for Oregon Ducks runner Tanguy Pepiot, he finds himself as the most recent poster child of why athletes need to finish the job.

    Rather than running through to the finish, Pepiot waved his arms to hype up the crowd in anticipation of a first-place finish, costing himself a win in the process.

    In the moment that the Ducks runner was celebrating, opponent Meron Simon of the Washington Huskies came charging from behind, tracking down and overtaking Pepiot for the victory.

    No one wants to be second place. But no one wants to be second place because he or she got there by doing something as boneheaded as what Tanguy Pepiot did.

The Bluegrass Miracle

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    As sports fans, specifically football ones, we all know that the ultimate sign of a big win is seeing a head coach get a bucket of Gatorade tossed onto him or her.

    A tradition that allegedly began with the New York Giants in the mid-'80s, with nearly every team since adopting it as the international sign of a team celebration.

    Unfortunately, if players do it a bit too early, they get left looking pretty damn embarrassed, as the Kentucky Wildcats found out during a 2002 game against the LSU Tigers, where the Cats soaked then-head coach Guy Morriss with some fruit-flavored drink, only to see the Tigers' prayers answered with a Hail Mary to give them the 33-30 win—with a few UK fans on the field in anticipation of a big win.

    It's just another reminder that it ain't over till it's over.

Croatian Basketball Team, Cibona

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    In all of my 30 years as a sports fan, this 2010 championship game between Cibona and Partizan in Europe is still one of the most bizarre endings I've ever witnessed.

    After a Cibona player buried a three-pointer to give his team the win, he and his teammates partied as if it was the final dagger, forgetting that there were still 0.6 seconds left on the clock.

    With Partizian inbounding the ball to Dusan Kecman, the guy heaved up a complete prayer from about 70 feet, with the ball dropping through the rim for the victory, stunning Cibona players and becoming one of the most improbable plays ever.

Kaelin Clay

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    One really has to feel for Utah Utes player Kaelin Clay after this one.

    Playing against the then-No. 2-ranked Oregon Ducks this past college football season, Clay was just about to give his team a 14-0 lead, just a mere 36 inches from crossing the goal line.

    That's when something bad happened, though.

    Getting a little bit too anxious about celebrating with his home fans, Clay dropped the ball at the 1-yard line before breaking the plane, keeping the play alive in the process.

    Alert as to what had happened, a Ducks player picked up the ball and returned it for a 99-yard touchdown, tying the game, flipping momentum and ultimately leading to a rout of the Utes in the 51-27 Oregon win.

    Clay's error landed him on a list of other players who made the same mistake, forcing him to learn a tough lesson the hard way.

Choi Jun-seok

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    This premature celebration by Korean baseball slugger Choi Jun-seok is still one of the best things that I have ever seen in my entire life—because it's about as elegant a bat flip as there is in sports history.

    After crushing a ball down the left field line, Jun-seok's reaction would convince you that he just hit the biggest home run in the history of baseball, raising his arms and watching the ball sail deep, deep, deep and...foul.

    Well, that's not how he thought things would end, with the play being nothing more than just a very long strike.

Nick Young

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    Nick Young is one of the most colorful basketball players in the NBA right now—just ask his L.A. Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant how he feels about some of the guard's antics.

    So seeing the man known as Swaggy P celebrate doing something probably isn't much of a surprise, as Young has been known to let his emotions pour out of him.

    Unfortunately, during a game against the New York Knicks in 2014, Young's patting of himself on the back for doing something good was a bit premature, becoming one of the most trending stories of the NBA season.

Leon Lett

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    Scoring a touchdown in a Super Bowl is one of the most memorable things that a pro football player could do, with the score forever living in the Big Game's lore.

    And while it's a moment that a player never forgets, when the guy happens to be a 290-pound defensive lineman getting, you would think he would do everything to make sure he doesn't screw it up.

    Former Dallas Cowboy Leon Lett didn't get that memo, though, when, in Super Bowl XXVII against the Buffalo Bills, the big man let the ball hang loosely by his side as he showboated toward the end zone.

    That was just enough for Bills player Don Beebe to catch up and strip the ball from Lett's hands, resulting in a touchback and possession back to Buffalo instead of six points for the 'Boys.

    Thankfully, the blunder didn't affect the final tally, as Dallas won 52-17 to capture its first of three tittles during the '90s.

    Turns out that Lett's non-touchdown is more memorable this way than if he had crossed the goal line.

DeSean Jackson

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    Current Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson's premature celebrations might not carry the same weight as a few of the others on this list—in terms of exposure or stakes—but he's still remembered for doing it more than once.

    Jackson's first blunder came during an All-American game prior to his first season with the Cal Bears, as he did a flip into the end zone—which had to stop the hearts of his future coaches to begin with—while dropping the ball a yard shy of the goal line.

    Clearly not one to make mental notes, DeSean in his rookie campaign with the Philadelphia Eagles shockingly did the same thing against the Dallas Cowboys.

    With ridiculous speed, the wideout was just about to find himself in the end zone for his first career touchdown. Of course, that was before he got a little bit ahead of himself and let go of the ball before getting into the painted area, with the refs bailing him out by determining that the play was dead, giving the ball back to Philly on the 1-yard line.

    You would think a guy would learn after the first time, but apparently DeSean Jackson didn't.

"The Play"

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    It's one of the most famous plays in the history of sports and one of the most unforgettable endings ever, giving fans the memorable line, "The band is out on the field." 

    Serving as a reminder to sports fans everywhere that a game truly isn't over till it's over—just ask that poor band member about that—there's a reason why the Stanford Cardinal-Cal Bears game in 1982 is simply known as "The Play," as it ended in a premature celebration for the ages.

    Rushing the field might be fun, but getting pummeled by a college football player during a game because you were there too early isn't so great.

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