A Changed Game: After the Whistle
penalty flag
The Way it Was

penalty flag

penalty flag
Enough is Enough

penalty flag
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Packers receiver, Donald Driver, diving into the stands
The Pioneers
Certain celebrations have become tradition in the National Football League. When you see a Packers game at Lambeau Field, view of the field almost takes a back seat to proximity to the wall directly behind the endzone. Terrell Davis giving the 'Mile High Salute' You may not be able to see the other side of the field, but there's always the chance that Antonio Freeman or Donald Driver could haul in a Brett Favre spiral and take it all the way, finishing with a dive over the wall and into your row. Leroy Butler, safety for the Packers, started the tradition in 1993 after returning an interception for a touchdown.2 It's a celebration that involves the loyal fans braving the 30 degree weather as much as it does the players. Though it is certainly celebration, there is a comaraderie about it that forces even many critics to accept and enjoy it. The "Mile High Salute" is another celebration that stuck. The Broncos unveiled the salute in 1997 during preseason games. One significant characteristic shared by each of these celebrations is that they are not meant to offend anyone or hog the spotlight. When a Packersplayer leaps into the stands and is caught by a horde of appreciating fans, they are on the same level for a moment. It may only be for a few seconds, but there is a connection between the players and fans that is rare in today's sports. When a Broncos running back plows into the endzone and salutes his teammates that he goes into battle with every Sunday, no one is made to look bad. Though it is a blurred line as to what is excessive and what is acceptable, this characteristic seems to be a deciding factor.Tony Gonzalez dunking a football through the uprights Other classic celebrations toe the line a little more closely, such as the classic "Icky Shuffle." Icky Woods showcased his famous endzone dance for the first time in 1988. The NFL soon banned celebretory displays, partly in reaction to the shuffle. It was the case of an individual drawing attention to himself and disrupting the flow of the game after a score. While popular and seemingly harmless, it proved to set a precedent which would change the face of the league. Alvin Harper, wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys during their Super Bowl runs in the early 90s, was also a trendsetter. After scoring a touchdown, he would head toward the goalpost and dunk the football over the crossbar. This has been imitated by several NFL stars over the years, such as Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez, who played basketball in college. Celebration on the field was making the turn toward the 21st century, where players would high-step for forty yards, then sign autographs in the endzone.

Home | The Way it Was | Pioneers | Enough is Enough | Monkey See, Monkey Do | Sources

What's your definition of "excessive" celebration?