5 Memorable NFL Touchdown Celebrations
Innovative touchdown celebrations are something of a dying art, thanks to the No Fun League’s penalties on excessive showboating. $10,000 fines have a way of making a player think twice before pulling out a prop in the end zone.
Thankfully, the threat of financial loss didn’t stop some intrepid athletes from putting on a show.
Here are 5 touchdown romps that stand out from the rest:
The Dirty Bird
Long before the “Tebowing” craze, football fans throughout the country were breaking out “The Dirty Bird.” Pioneered by star running back Jamal Anderson, the Dirty Bird was the signature touchdown celebration of the upstart 1998 Atlanta Falcons. The gyrating dance became a league-wide sensation, and is still used by players to this day. Although the Falcons eventually fell to the John Elway-led Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, the Dirty Bird lives on in the annals of the end zone.
The Sharpie Incident
There weren’t many receivers better than Terrell Owens in his heyday, but his football skills are hardly his only contribution to the game. After scoring a touchdown during a 2002 Monday Night Football game, T.O. immediately signed the football with the permanent marker and gave it to a fan in the crowd. The “Sharpie Incident,” as it came to be called, sparked the golden age of touchdown celebrations, with the league’s biggest stars competing to outdo each other. Unfortunately, it also led to the NFL’s ban on the use of celebration props. Womp, womp.
Touchdowns on Speed Dial
Joe Horn wasn’t about to let Terrell Owens steal his thunder. The standout Saints receiver found an interesting way to work around the league’s ban on carrying props. A year after the Sharpie Incident, Horn managed to one-up T.O. during a Sunday Night Football clash with the Giants. After his second score, Horn pulled a cell phone out of the goalpost pad and made a mock “phone call”. Horn went on to score four touchdowns in the game, but he paid dearly for his classic antics—the NFL fined him $30,000.
The Shot Heard ‘Round The World
Talk about a low blow. The Bills and Jets may be AFC East rivals, but everyone was a bit shocked when Stevie Johnson pulled this celebration out of his hat. After catching a Ryan Fitzpatrick bullet for a score, Johnson pretended to “shoot” himself in the leg, playing off of the incident that caused Plaxico Burress to spend time in prison. Bills fans may have enjoyed the move, but the Jets had the last laugh—Burress answered with a touchdown of his own and calmly handed the ball to the referee.
It’s Salsa Time
Victor Cruz took the NFL by storm in 2011, thanks in no small part to his dancing skills. The departure of Steve Smith, as well as a few key injuries, allowed the unheralded Cruz to snag a lion’s share of wide receiver reps for the Giants. The UMass grad channeled his Puerto Rican roots by busting out a salsa dance every time he hit pay dirt. After rising from undrafted receiver to Super Bowl Champion, we’d be dancing too.