For very young or relatively new football fans, the idea of a choreographed touchdown celebration is a foreign idea that befuddles the mind – players celebrating in dance, all in unison or busting a move that was practiced and well thought out?
Preposterous! Throw a flag! Unsportsmanlike conduct!
I would hope for your sake that, first of all, you don’t watch football with these “negative nellies,” because that could very easily ruin your football watching Sunday. Second of all, I would hope that you’ve at least tried to indulge said individuals in a couple of YouTube videos depicting celebrations from an era where a touchdown shimmy was expected, and not penalized.
The art of the touchdown dance is slowly turning into a NFL artifact, relegated to those few instances of a Victor Cruz salsa dance or (until this season) a well-executed field-goal post dunk by Jimmy Graham. The
No Fun League National Football League decided that celebrating was disrespectful and equivalent to taunting. While there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed when celebrating a touchdown, no other sport blows the whistle as quickly as the NFL on “the line being crossed” during the post-score rejoicing.
Years ago, though, we were lucky enough to bear witness to the “Golden Age” of touchdown celebrations. Choreographed or spontaneous, the dances were fun, exciting, and added flair and passion to America’s favorite sport. From team dances to individual efforts, using props, fans, and anything else players could get their hands on, the touchdown dance was, quite simply put, part of the game. Kids looking up to NFL athletes not only admired their playing talent, but also their ability to razzle and dazzle after a big touchdown.
And so, while we don’t get to appreciate them to the fullest extent these days – thanks, Roger – we can still remember fondly some of the greatest touchdown celebration artists in the history of football.
10. Randy Moss
Randy Moss spent so much time in the end-zone throughout his brilliant career that it would have been a shame if he wasn’t a contender to make this list. While he didn’t necessarily have a signature move or go-to dance routine, he would always get a little gig in before trotting back to the sideline. His infamous moon of the Lambeau faithful gets him onto the list – Joe Buck might not agree with that sentiment, however. The “moon” not only set off a controversy league-wide (and probably would have resulted in Twitter exploding if it had happened more recently), it also led to the infamous “straight cash homie” quote from Moss when he was fined for the act. No one can deny that Moss was the whole package in terms of an entertaining “diva” receiver.
9. Merton Hanks
Merton Hanks isn’t a name that will pop of the list for the younger generation of fans who grew up with more “creative” touchdown celebrations. Hanks was a ball-hawking safety for the 49ers during the 1990’s, and he trademarked his picks with a unique version of the “Chicken Dance,fan” which often got under the skin of opposing teams. For one thing, it was a slap in the face, and perhaps most importantly; no one likes getting taunted through a dance that was inspired by Bert & Ernie from Sesame Street. Hanks had potential to be ranked higher on this list, but his lack of star-power and the fact that he scored touchdowns sparingly bumps him down a few notches.
8. Johnnie Morton
Johnnie Morton put up several quality receiving stat lines during his NFL tenure, eclipsing 1,000 yards four teams through the late 90’s and early 2000’s. He even diversified his sporting endeavors by trying out MMA well after his football career ended (suffice to say it didn’t go so well). What Morton will be most fondly remembered for, though, is his classic “Worm” celebration dance after a touchdown catch. These days, the worm would have not only resulted in a flag for taunting an opponent, it would probably also lead to scorn from his coaches and a mandated concussion test for having bounced off the floor at a high impact repeatedly.
7. Jamal Anderson
Jamal Anderson took the choreographed touchdown celebration dance to a new level in the 90’s; not only did he come up with a cool, original dance that hadn’t been seen in the NFL before, but he also came up with one that related to his team. “The Dirty Bird” was the perfect touchdown celebration dance for a member of the Atlanta Falcons, and the fad caught on city-wide, tearing up dance floors and other, less obvious locations across the ATL. When your touchdown dance catches on as a nightlife fad, you know you’ve made it, but the general awkwardness (and the lack of sex appeal of a dance that imitates a bird) bumps it down the list.
6. Victor Cruz
Victor Cruz can shimmy around defenders with ease, but he makes his salsa dance celebration look even more effortless. From an undrafted free-agent to the #1 wide-receiver of the New York Giants, Cruz has had plenty of opportunities to show off his salsa moves in the end-zone. The dance was inspired by his grandmother, who taught him the jig, and later encouraged former Giants QB coach Mike Sullivan, who reportedly told Cruz to find a way to represent his Puerto Rican culture on the field. Cruz better hope Eli Manning gets his (expletive) together, though, or there won’t be much salsa dancing going on this season.
5. Jimmy Graham
Jimmy Graham may not have been the first to dunk on a goal-post, but he may have been the last to do it legally. Alvin Harper and Tony Gonzalez first made the goal-post dunk famous, and somewhere in the back of his mind Graham must have been paying tribute to his legendary counterparts. Graham has the edge on both in this category, though, because Graham has not only broken a goal-post, he’s also forced the NFL to make a rule prohibiting the act because repairing the posts is a waste of in-game time. Graham has already broken his own rule a few times this preseason, perhaps trying to make a statement to the NFL – but most likely to get a few out of his system while the games are still meaningless.
4. Ickey Woods
Ickey Woods is another name that probably won’t jump off the page, as the former Bengal was never classified as a “superstar” player during his time in Cincinnati. He was, however, a superstar touchdown celebrator – his classic “Ickey Shuffle” dance was uncoordinated, confusing and downright strange, but it worked for Ickey. You won’t catch anyone doing the Ickey Shuffle on a ballroom dance floor, but Woods can take solace in the fact that his dance was arguably one of the most creative dance celebrations in NFL history. Woods gets bumped up the listed for the originality of the dance, and because he had more flair than a lot of fullbacks we’ve seen in the history of the league (and will probably be one of the last, as the position is slowly but surely fading away).
3. Deion Sanders
It would be a crime to leave the most electrifying player in NFL history of a list of players who lived to electrify crowds – during and after the play. That’s what made PrimeTime so great; while other waited until they were safely in the end-zone to start celebrating, Prime was already high-stepping his way down the sidelines faster than the opposition could sprint at him. The obnoxious swagger no doubt enraged opponents, but it made Deion Sanders one of the most lovable and watchable players in the history of the sport.
2. Terrell Owens
Get ya popcorn ready! You knew anytime TO got near the end-zone something special was coming. Whether it was the Sharpie incident, dancing with a cheerleaders pompoms, or mocking the Dallas Cowboys logo at midfield, Owens always had a good touchdown celebration up his sleeve – even though a lot of the time there was a tinge of mockery to them, like his infamous re-enactment of Ray Lewis’ entrance. Owens drew the scorn of countless opponents and fans, but no one can doubt his value as an on-field entertainer.
1. Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson
Chad Johnson might like to tell himself that he is one of the greatest receivers of all-time (if not the best ever). While his numbers are impressive, the only category he’ll ever lead is in this category. No one did touchdown celebrations like Ocho did. The Riverdance, putting the football, leaping into the Dawg Pound (even though he jumped into Bengals fans arms, it was still quite daring), and of course, “The Sign” asking the NFL not to fine him again.
If that wasn’t enough, his first CFL touchdown celebration with the Montreal Alouettes was hugging the official who ruled his catch a touchdown and telling said official that he loved him.
Ochocinco, ladies and gentleman.
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