We’ve had Tebowing and Griffining and now we have Kaepernicking. Is it ever going to end?
- Image from NFL Memes
Of course, I’d be more tolerant of Colin Kaepernick’s signature move—kissing his tattooed right bicep—if the San Francisco 49ers quarterback hadn’t been entitled to celebrate quite so often during his game against my Green Bay Packers. But I do believe this celebration business has gone too far.
Teenage gridders all over America are standing in front of their mirrors, practicing their moves—not their football moves, but their touchdown and sack dances—so they’ll have something fancy to trot out when they grow up and get a crack at the NFL.
It reminds me of the strippers in the Broadway musical Gypsy (1959, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim) advising a young Gypsy Rose Lee:
“You can sacrifice your sacro
Working in the back row.
Bump in a dump till you’re dead.
Kid, you gotta have a gimmick
If you wanna get ahead.”
The officials exercise their authority to penalize players for excessive celebration, prompting some fans to complain about the No Fun League. But they’re inconsistent. They’ll flag a spontaneous snow angel in a whitened end zone but ignore elaborate routines more properly reserved for Dancing with the Stars.
Aha, you say. But what about Packer celebrations? Aaron Rodgers’ championship belt move? Discount Double Check! Clay Matthews’ Predator? Gilbert Brown’s historic Gravedigger? Wouldn’t you miss those if celebrations were outlawed?
Sure I would. But watching a perfectly thrown Rodgers pass or Matthews charging untouched into the opposing backfield provides enough thrills for me. When Brett Favre was quarterbacking the Packers, he’d simply jump up and down like a little kid after a successful strike. That was pure fun!
I could certainly live without The Fin, Jermichael Finley’s set of movements that evoke a shark. Early in the 2012 season, he was doing it after every catch. C’mon, J-Mike, isn’t catching the ball what we pay you to do? By the end of the year, Finley was making more catches and reserving The Fin for the big ones. I liked that—and him—a lot better.
I admit I even have reservations about the beloved Lambeau Leap. I’ve always wondered whether Vince Lombardi would have condoned the Leap. I can hear him barking, “Mister, where do you think you’re going? You’ve got another three quarters of football to play! Get back to the sideline and see your position coach! You could get hurt jumping into the stands that way!” Okay, maybe that last part came from me, the Jewish mother, not Lombardi.
To prove my point, I leave you with the words of the late, great coach Paul Brown. Back in the ‘70s, when Brown was coaching the Cincinnati Bengals, Bob Trumpy celebrated his first pro touchdown by tossing the ball into the stands.
“Son,” Brown admonished him, “Act like you’ve been there before.”