NFL Celebrations throughout the ages

By Peter Bailey-Wells

If you’re a Bears fan, you know what happened this weekend against the Patriots was a calamity of epic proportions.

Adding injury to insult was defensive end Lamarr Houston’s fourth quarter sack celebration. Houston sacked Patriots’ backup Jimmy Garoppolo and proceeded to do an outlandish celebration that cost him his ACL and the rest of the season.

The Bears were losing by 25 points when Houston committed this gaffe.

It was just five weeks ago that Detroit linebacker Stephen Tulloch blew out his knee while celebrating a sack of Aaron Rodgers. NFL celebrations have come a long way since Joe Horn and Terrell Owens, but in the Houston/Tulloch tradition, it’s time to look at some of the most notable celebrations in football history.

Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, 1970s

Johnson was the first player to come up with his own individual touchdown dance. His knee-knocking creativity paved the way for anyone else to celebrate beyond spiking the ball. He’s the original celebrator.

Ickey Woods: Ickey Shuffle, 1980s

The Ickey shuffle was the celebration that originally prompted the NFL to implement an excessive celebration rule. It has also been revived in a recent series of Geico insurance commercials. It was just a simple back-and-forth shuffle, but however you look at it, the Ickey Shuffle was a big deal.

Deion Sanders: Primetime, 1990s

Deion became the original NFL diva with his toe-tapping Primtime touchdown dance. Sanders high-stepping into the endzone is often imitated today, mostly in homage to the greatest cornerback of all time. Devin Hester recreated the dance while celebrating breaking Sanders’ record for most career touchdown returns.

Terrell Owens: Dallas Star, 2000

Owens stomping on the Cowboys’ midfield logo was one of the more memorable celebrations in NFL history, even if it was an early indication of the fact that T.O. was an insufferable jerk. This celebration started a long line of creative celebrations by wide receivers. You’ll see T.O.’s name on this list again.

Bill Gramatica: ACL Tear, 2001

Gramatica is best known for shredding his ACL while celebrating a field goal during his rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals. It’s never nice to laugh at someone when he gets hurt, but it’s tough not to giggle when watching Gramatica wipe out á la Tulloch or Houston.

Tony Gonzalez/Jimmy Graham: Goalpost Dunk, 2000s

This was a cool one. The NFL banned it before this season, especially because Graham had a tendency to bend the goalpost with his thunderous slams. Gonzalez invented it, and the ex-Miami basketball player Graham made it popular. It’s a shame the NFL has banned this celebration.

Chad Johnson/Ochocinco: Any celebration he did, 2000s

Ochocinco was the most colorful receiver in the NFL in the 2000s and always needed a camera on him to capture his antics. Wearing a Hall of Fame jacket, holding up a hand-lettered sign and proposing to a cheerleader all fell within Johnson’s purview. He has performed the most diverse set of celebrations in NFL history.

Rob Gronkowski: The Gronk Spike, 2010s

This is my favorite, mostly because Gronk plays for my beloved Patriots. Every player who has scored many touchdowns has spiked the ball at least once afterward, but Gronk does it every time, and has made it his signature move. No one in the game spikes it with the ferocity or energy that Gronk does. He also did it three times against the Bears this weekend, so as we started this column with the Bears’ lousy play, we’ll end it with the Bears’ lousy play. Sorry Chicago fans.

Victor Cruz: Salsa Dance, 2010s

Cruz’s hip-swinging Latin dance is the modern Ickey Shuffle, a fun dance that is a lot less self-centered than anything Johnson or T.O. ever did. Despite the fact that he plays for the Giants, one of my least favorite teams, Cruz’s dance is my second-favorite modern celebration.

Peter is a sophomore in Media. He can be contacted at [email protected] and on Twitter @pbaileywells22.