Remember the days when a player would stroll into the end zone, and you would watch more closely at that moment than during the actual game in anticipation of the next great celebration? When Terrell Owens was on the highlight reel every week, not for the touchdown catch he made, but for what he did after making that catch? When there was a big debate as to whether T.O. or challenger Chad OchoCinco is the greatest celebrator of all time?
Well, thanks to commissioner Roger Goodell, those days are, for better or for worse, behind us. Now, all we can do is look back on history and reflect on a dead tradition. Here’s my take on the five best celebrations in NFL history. If you have a celebration that you think should be on this list, send me your thoughts.
5. DeSean Jackson falling
Sunday, December 12th, 2010. Philadelphia @ Dallas. Click here to watch.
With just over 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of a tie ball game, Michael Vick hit DeSean Jackson short left and he took off, using that elusive speed to outrun everyone in the Cowboys secondary and reel in a 91-yard touchdown reception. Just as he nears the goal line, he turns, faces five ‘Boys, opens his arms, and slowly falls into the end zone. It may be a controversial selection for fifth overall, but let me explain why I chose it. Just about any other receiver in the league, and that isn’t even going past the 50-yard line. Jackson is one of the speediest players in the game, and he wanted to show that Dallas secondary that he was superior to all of them. He did receive an excessive celebration penalty for it, but at least he looked like a boss doing it.
4. Stevie Johnson’s “Joker”
Sunday, November 21st, 2010. Buffalo @ Cincinnati. Click here to watch.
During the 2010 NFL season, the wide receiver tandem of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco began referring to themselves as Batman and Robin. Leading up to this game, Bills receiver Stevie Johnson proclaimed that he would play the role of The Joker, the infamous Batman villain. He took that statement to the next level, writing in black marker on a shirt under his jersey “Why so serious?“, Heath Ledger’s catchphrase from The Dark Knight. The score shown above came in the third quarter, cutting the Bengals’ lead to ten. After reaching the end zone, he waled up to the camera and lifted his jersey to show the message. Johnson caught two more touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and the Bills pulled off a comeback win. In Christopher Nolan’s version, Batman is victorious in the end. It looks like Stevie Johnson rewrote the script.
3. T.O. Signs One for a Fan
Monday, October 14th, 2002. San Francisco @ Seattle.
It was Monday Night Football in October. Jeff Garcia was the quarterback, Terrell Owens the receiver. You knew he’d make this list eventually. After pulling in a touchdown catch, T.O. reached into his sock, pulled out a Sharpie marker, autographed the ball, and handed it to his financial advisor who was sitting in a luxury box rented by Shawn Springs, the cornerback he beat on the play. That was one of two scores for Owens in a 28-21 49ers win. Unfortunately, there’s no video footage of this available on YouTube.
2. Joe Horn Makes ‘Dials Up’ a Touchdown
Sunday, December 14th, 2003. New York Giants @ New Orleans. Click here to watch.
Quarterback Aaron Brooks found Joe Horn four times in this game for scores, and following one of the touchdowns, he ran to the goal post, where a teammate helped him lift the padding and an object fell to the ground. Horn bent down, picked up his cell phone, and pretended to dial a few numbers and make a call. Supposedly, he promised his mom he would do this if he scored a touchdown, and thought it doesn’t look like he was really on the phone, I suppose he was The league had initiated a new rule banning the use of props just days before Horn made his phone call. He was, of course, called for a penalty, but the Saints pulled out a 35-27 comeback win with a barrage of fourth quarter points.
Sunday, September 24, 2000 Click here to watch.
I bet you Terrell Owens didn’t think he’d later play for the Dallas Cowboys on this September afternoon in 2000. After a three-yard touchdown grab from Jeff Garcia in the second quarter, he ran to the star logo at the middle of the field to celebrate. Emmitt Smith responded by doing the same after scoring a touchdown of his own. But Owens got the last laugh, scoring again late in the fourth quarter, putting the 49ers well ahead at 41-17. Adding insult to injury, T.O. again ran for the star, this time getting knocked over by Cowboys safety George Teague, who was ejected. A fight broke out, and Owens simply stood on the star with his arms held out, finally getting ushered away by the zebras. In my opinion. this is the greatest celebration ever to take place on a football field.