Admit it, you love absurd touchdown celebrations. If the celebration occurs against your team, you’ll hate it for a hot minute. Or maybe you’ll love the 15 yard flag you’ll get out of it. Either way, when you look back at some of the more ridiculous and elaborate displays of touchdown showmanship, you crack a smile at the very least.
Don’t get me wrong, even from a distant fan’s perspective the antics of Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson/Ochocinco annoyed the heck out of me. But now that their diva selves have been extricated from the league, I’ll admit it makes me laugh. And they could basically have a TD celebration list all to themselves.
Though I understand and agree with the rules against taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct, excessive celebration and all that, deep down some part of me misses all the antics. Just sayin’.
Through NFL history touchdown celebrations have been varied in scope and meaning– sometimes players had signature dances or moves, sometimes it was clearly a shot at the opposing team, and sometimes it was just a creative display of good ol’ fashion shenanigans (even if it does slow down the game). Rather than split up the categories, I blended them together, creating a TD dance gumbo of sorts. Mmm, spicy.
10. Johnson’s Proposal
This really could be one of an ocean of touchdown celebrations Chad Johnson managed over his career. I mean, resuscitating the ball in the endzone, grabbing the TV camera and piloting it mid-game, the classic (and frankly well-executed) Irish jig. Johnson will be iconic for generations as an end-zone ham.
In this case, Johnson hauls in a touchdown catch in a home game, runs over to one of the Bengals’ cheerleaders named Daphne, takes off his helmet and bends the knee. She gleefully accepts the proposal, and they hug, and Chad runs away. That’s what happens in every engagement right? I maintain it would’ve been NFL film gold if she had slapped him with a pom pom or something absurd like that. The poor girl was probably just trying to keep her job, though. For her sake, let’s just be happy he didn’t really propose.
9. Cruz’s Salsa
Victor Cruz exploded onto the scene during the week 1 2010 preseason game, Jets vs Giants. Backup QB Jim Sorgi realized immediately Cruz was a superhuman receiver, and basically threw the ball to him nonstop. Wearing the number 3 in typical preseason nobody status, Cruz ended up with 145 yards and 3 TDs despite only playing part of the game.
Fast forward to today, where Cruz is a fantasy football superstar who flaunts his fancy feet in the end zone every time he visits. That saucy salsa he does in memory of his late grandmother, whom he was very close with, and taught him how to dance. Furthermore, he deserves some credit for marching to his own beat in a sport riddled with aggression and machismo. Whether you love or hate the Giants, it’s hard not to appreciate Cruz’s rags to riches story and his workmanlike attitude.
8. Randy’s Moon
With his large afro packed into his Viking horned helmet, Randy Moss caught a 32-yard Daunte Culpepper pass against Green Bay and proceeded to stand beside the goal post and feign pulling down his pants to moon the crowd. The year was 2005, and Randy Moss was as confusing and controversial as he ever would be. Absurdly talented but with a unpredictable attitude, Moss’ antics were no surprise, but often came with rebuke. He was often fined, and regularly had confrontations with teammates and coaches wherever he went. But regardless, for whatever reason, this mock display of posterior whipped people into a frenzy. Some loved it, others found it offensive, and me. . . well I just don’t get what all the fuss is about. It’s not like he really flashed his buttocks. Regardless, it is easily one of the most famous end zone antics out there.
7. L.T.’s Teardrop
This one does not fall into the hilarious nor offensive category. But it is the most iconic running back touchdown celebration of all time. Mostly because it was the signature move. When LaDanian Tomlinson found his way to the end zone, which he did very, very often, you knew what was coming. That hand on the back of the head, and the quick arm extension and flick of the wrist almost like a basketball finger roll was fluid and smooth; The same way Tomlinson ran. He was a rolling ball of charged lightning careening down the field. If you haven’t had the chance, watch career highlights of this magnificent RB. He once caught 100 passes and ran for over 1,000 yards in the same season, and he even threw 7 touchdowns over his career. The man averaged 4.4 yards/carry over his career and is 2nd all-time with 126 rushing TDs. His list of records and accolades are just beyond commentary, and they pale to watching him play. Your presence in the NFL is sorely missed, L.T.
6. Johnson’s Putt-Putt
Skip to 0:22 in the video for what goes down as one of the more creative and hilarious celebrations in NFL history. In 2005, Chad Johnson pulls in a 54 yard TD pass against the Baltimore Ravens, and saunters over to the corner of the end zone. He places the ball on the ground, picks up the pylon, and with Tiger’s poise he strokes a putt with his rectangular orange putter, fist-pumping in mock success. He later would be fined a measly $5,000, which while being plenty o’ potatoes for normal folk, is a small price to pay for creative greatness. Give the man credit, he had most of the NFL praying for him to score just to see what absurdity he’d come up with. It must’ve been a part-time job coming up with all those antics. I wonder if he hired someone.
5. T.O.’s Star Spiked Tackle
September 24, 2000. Terrell Owens catches a touchdown pass for the 49ers against his former team, the Cowboys. He runs to the star at center field and stares skyward in defiance. Later in the game, he hauls in another, and runs to the center star to spike the ball on the star–only to be clobbered by Cowboys safety George Teague the second he delivers the spike. A fracas ensued. It would be easy to put this higher than #5, but given the general petulance of the entire gesture, and the negative response it drew and still draws as a part of T.O.’s legacy, it doesn’t deserve to beat out some of the other celebrations. Now, I’m no fan of the Cowboys, but however you see this controversial blip in NFL history, it is what it is–Owens’ childish gesture of anger at his former team.
4. Deion Sanders’ High Step & Dance
However you may feel about Deion as a sportscaster/sports personality, he was an absolute force of nature on the field during his career: 53 Interceptions with 1,331 return yards, 10 defensive touchdowns, 9 kickoff/punt return touchdowns with 5,642 return yards, 10 passes defensed, 10 forced fumbles, 492 tackles, and 784 receiving yards and 3 receiving touchdowns. Game. Changer.
And what did he do with all those picks and returned touchdowns? Hand on the back of the head, high steppin’ into the endzone, and the primetime dance. The hop-step, hesitation, hop-step. It’s so iconic that to this day players high step and hop step in homage to primetime. Light on your feet isn’t the phrase to describe his play; this (expletive deleted) floated. Primetime capitalized on his talent, iconically becoming, well, Primetime. Well played, Deion.
3. T.O.’s Popcorn
It was simple. It was improvised. It was sudden, and it was hilarious. In a Cowboys home game in the red zone against Green Bay, Terrell Owens runs a quick slant of sorts, and snatches a touchdown. He sits on the ground a moment, almost in relaxation, tosses the ball to the refs. His teammates maul him, then he asks for the ball back. He spots a group of fans wielding popcorn. He runs up to them, they hand him the popcorn in adulation, and ball in hand, pours the popcorn into his face mask in a spray of fluffed corn. It’s been .gif’ed, adored and admired for years as an image of what can be awesome about football showmanship. It was quick, spontaneous, hilarious and iconic. It gave hilarious weight to T.O.’s words, “get your popcorn ready.” That’s the right way to do it, T.O.
2. Joe’s Phone Call
2003, New Orleans Saints vs. The New York Giants. Joe Horn catches a wide seam in the end zone for a touchdown. He scampers to his feet instantaneously, the ball flying up into the air, and lifts up the goal post padding. Beneath is stashed a flip phone (my, times have changed) upon which he punches a few numbers, holds to his helmet and swaggers around the end zone, nodding with authority to his supposed liaison. He must’ve been calling his bank informing them he was about to be relieved of some money, because the fake phone call cost him $30,000 from an NFL fine. I mean, $30,000 is a lot for a hilarious gesture that doesn’t really spite the other team at all, but it was worth it. Now, a decade later, this is probably the only thing Joe Horn is remembered for. I mean, this was a pretty hilarious gesture with a lot of premeditation. What if he caught a TD in the other end zone? Did he stash two phones? Did he actually call his mom like he claimed? Makes me wonder how many cell phones were lost beneath goal post pads as Horn waited in anticipation to unleash this beauty.
1. Steve Smith’s Amazing Repertoire
I just couldn’t pick one of Steve Smith’s celebrations– I had to go with all of them. The man was a touchdown celebration innovator. Feisty, tough as nails, hard working, and hilarious. That’s how I’d describe Steve Smith on the field. He basically paved the way for other W.R.’s to create iconic touchdown celebrations. Using the ball as a rapier to ‘fence’ at the Buccaneers players after a touchdown was just amazing, the Mario jump-on-the-flagpole in Chicago was positively cartoonlike– he tossed away the ball and jumped to the top of the goal post padding with arms and legs wrapped around it, and slid to the bottom like Mario at the end of a level. Just fantastic. Another classic was the baby diaper; he laid the ball on the ground, lifted it delicately like a baby and wiped the underside of the ball like cleaning poo off a baby’s bottom. It was as absurd as it was gut busting. And perhaps my favorite, the rowboat. After the Viking’s players infamous ‘love boat’ scandal, Steve Smith scored on Minnesota, and sat down in the end zone paddling an invisible boat and looking over his shoulder in mock terror. It was gutsy, it was topical, it was absurd, and it to this day makes me laugh. Steve Smith, you truly are king of. . . whatever this is.