This week we are going to mix up the Top Ten a bit, and present the five best and five worst football celebrations. They are not all pre-planned, some are spontaneous, some are laughable and some are awesome, but all make this week’s altered edition of the Top Ten.
The Five Worst Celebrations:
5. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers Play Duck Duck Goose.
We all know that the CFL has some strange rules, and we all know that the culture in Canada is a wee bit different than here in the US. But are we really so much different that our football teams do cool touchdown celebrations such as those below, where their teams use a child’s game?
If a team wants to play Duck Duck Goose the players should at least do what we did when I was a kid; whack the “goose” in the head as hard as you can. At least then it might be fun to watch.
For an even stranger celebration, how about playing Doggy Where’s Your Bone? This is a game that I never heard about until researching this article, and here is a description:
We played this game when it was raining. It is an inside game. A student played the part of the dog. He or she sat in a chair with their back to the class. An eraser or another object was put under the chair. That was the bone. While the dog was turned around with his or her eyes closed someone would sneak up and steal the bone and hide it somewhere on his person. Then everyone would sing: Doggy, Doggy, where’s your bone?
Simpsons fans know all about this show. Who knew it was taken from real life?
Strangely this has happened not once but twice. In the first instance, QB Kerwin Bell of the Toronto Argonauts scored a touchdown on a nice run. Of course, being from the CFL and fully familiar with the etiquette of celebrations, he spikes the ball. Directly into his nuts, and not on a bounce either. He then gets pushed, falls over and takes out another player in his graceful swan dive.
The second one happened in the Arena Football League. Dallas Desperados back Duke Pettyjohn scored a touchdown and in his celebration did a fairly routine spike of the football. However, unbeknownst to him, but knownst to us, referee Mike Delany was standing a bit too close and in the wrong spot, and the ball nailed him in the privates.
What does it say about my sense of humor that watching guys get hit in the nuts is always funny?
2. Bill Gramatica Forgets that Kickers Can’t Jump
In 2001, as a rookie, Bill Gramatica kicked a relatively meaningless field goal in the first quarter of a game against the New York Giants. Why he chose to celebrate as if he scored a Super Bowl winning touchdown is a question left for the ages. He leaped into the air, landed awkwardly on his knee and ripped his ACL. Oops.
Some sources incorrectly attribute the injury to Bill’s brother Martin Gramatica. Ironically, Bill Gramatica went on to play for the Giants. I could not find video of it, but here are some pictures. Feel free to cut them out and make a flip book if you need the video that badly.
1. Gus Frerotte The Headbanger
Who celebrates a touchdown by banging their head against a wall? Only two people I know of; Paul Greco, who admittedly is not the brightest bulb in the world, and Gus Frerotte.
In a 1997 game against the Giants (again?) Frerotte scored a touchdown on a simple 1-yard run. Instead of spiking the ball, or doing a dance, Frerotte ran. He ran to the corner of the stadium and spiked the ball against a scoreboard. Not satisfied with this, he then headbutted a wall. Dazing himself in the process, Frerotte ended up in the hospital.
The Five Best Celebrations
Unlike the decidedly foolish fellows above, these guys did it all with class, dignity and honor. Well, not really, but they did come up with inventive ways to celebrate.
5. Travis Thomas Almost Gets A Strike
This celebration does not get enough respect. In researching this article I found very few mentions of this celebration. Perhaps it is because it occurred during the Blue/Gold game and we all hate Notre Dame, don’t we? With the obsequiousness of Rudy, the arrogance of Touchdown Jesus, the fact that Phil Donahue is an alumni and that they are the only team that automatically gets a BCS bid if they win enough games, there are plenty of reasons.
For this TD celebration they get a pass. But here is the strange part, and one that almost made me put it on the Worst List. He did not get a strike! While the rest of the “pins” fell as planned, the six pin, who coincidentally was wearing number six, did not fall.
Ah for the headier, halcyon days of the 1980s. The economy was great, the President won the Cold War without firing a shot and The Bungles were a powerhouse. In 1988 a new craze swept the nation; the Ickey Shuffle.
For his part Ickey Woods was a nondescript player that had a short career. But his legacy is not his playing prowess but his dancing prowess. Though he was a rookie in 1988, he led the Bengals to the Super Bowl. In the process he gave us the Ickey Shuffle.
So beloved was the Ickey Shuffle, that Ickey recently performed it again for the world at the Reds-Bengals charity basketball game this year. You can see original video of the Ickey Shuffle in the video at number two below.
3. Dennis Thurman and Michael Downs Try to Break Up The Fun Bunch
Younger fans may not remember this but older ones will. I certainly do, I was watching that game and the memory of what happened is seared in my head like a cattle brand.
So renowned were the antics of the Fun Bunch that the NFL banned celebratory dances in 1984 as a result of their celebrations. It started in 1982 after an Alvin Garrett TD. The members of the Fun Bunch included the Redskins’ wide receivers Art Monk, Virgil Seay, Charlie Brown, Gary Clark, and Alvin Garrett, and tight ends Rick Walker, and Don Warren, as well as Otis Wansley and Rich Caster.
The Redskins’ Fun Bunch did a celebratory dance, which was in essence a group high-five with jumping. In a fateful game against their archrivals, the Cowboys’ Dennis Thurman and Michael Downs broke into the circle and tried to stop the Fun Bunch, only to have them complete their jumping high-five right on top of Thurman, virtually whacking him on top of the head.
It was a dark day for the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did Thurman, Downs and the team get embarrassed by this incident, they lost the game 31-10 and this was the last season for a while that the ‘Boys were any good. They missed the playoffs in 1984, lost 20-0 in the first round in 1985 and then had a losing record for the first time in 20 years in 1986. They wouldn’t sniff the playoffs until 1991, when they were routed by the Lions 38-6 after surprising the Bears in the first round. There is no question that this incident was the cause.
Before there was Terrell Owens, before there was Chad Ochocinco or Joe Horn, there was Billy “White Shoes” Johnson. Younger fans probably do not know him, or if they do he seems a relic from the past that they have heard of, but know little about, like George Washington.
Yet, Johnson was the creator of the touchdown celebration. In the stodgy 1970s, when we had two of the worst presidents in history and perhaps the worst economy this side of the Great Depression, White Shoes was a breath of fresh air.
As a rookie, he celebrated touchdowns with the “Funky Chicken,” a dance he developed while at Division III Widener College on a dare from a teammate. Ron Shelton, of Bull Durham and White Men Can’t Jump fame, paid homage to Billy’s white shoes in his first sports movie The Best Of Times.
Here is video, the only one I could find, of the Funky Chicken; Billy’s Funky Chicken is number three below, right after the Ickey Shuffle, which comes in at number four:
Why does this get the top spot? If you were a Green Bay Packer fan on the receiving end of the Lambeau Leap you would know why. The interactivity and the closeness of the fans to the Packers’ players garners the top spot.
How rabid is the town of Green Bay about their Packers? In the 2000 Census the town had just over 102,000 people in its metropolitan area. Lambeau Field has a capacity of just under 73,000. They have sold out every game since 1960. And, there is a waiting list of almost 80,000. That, my friends, is a rabid fan base.
Though I am not a Packers’ fan, it is easy to see its appeal and allure, especially when one considers the metaphorical closeness of the fan base to the actual closeness of the fans to the team’s players. The Lambeau Leap works as a fun celebration but also symbolically represents the relationship between the Packers and the fans of Green Bay. Though it has been much copied, no one can replicate the bond that exists between the Packers and the sleepy, snowy town that gives the team its name.
According to UselessKnowledge.com (and that is not the alternate title for this site):
LeRoy Butler ‘invented’ the move Dec. 26, 1993. Here’s how it happened: In the fourth quarter, Los Angeles Raiders quarterback Vince Evans completes a second-down swing pass to running back Randy Jordan. Who takes the ball to the Raiders’ 40-yard-line before Butler forces a fumble that is recovered by Reggie White (A DEFENSIVE Player for the Green Bay Packers) at the Raiders’ 35. After running with the ball for 10 yards, White laterals it to Butler, (Another Green Bay Packer DEFENSIVE Player) who runs the remaining 25 yards into the end zone and then makes a spontaneous leap into the arms of fans in the south bleachers. The Packers go on to win 28-0 to clinch what would be the first of six consecutive playoff berths.