The NFL has long been named the “No Fun League” by fans for their effort to clamp down on touchdown celebrations, and it;s only getting worse. Based on research from ESPN, taunting penalties have increased by a whopping 220 percent when compared to the first four weeks of the 2015 season – one of which was Josh Norman’s “bow and arrow” pose from two weeks ago – and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties are up by 55.6 percent.
What does that mean for the future of the league? Nobody knows, but it sure doesn’t look good.
Even though NFL players are no longer allowed to have fun on the field after they put points on the board, there was a time when flamboyant celebrations were commonplace in football. Sure, players were still fined for their actions and some prompted the league to start banning their signature celebrations, but it’s easy to forget how prominent they were way back in the day.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best touchdown celebrations of recent memory to get a better idea of what we’re missing out on.
Leaping into the goal-post
Antonio Brown returned a 71-yard punt into a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts in 2015, and he celebrated by jumping into the goal post and straddling it with no regard for his man region. It wasn’t the first time anyone has done it – Steve Smith takes home that honor – but Brown was slapped with a $11,576 fine from the NFL and was responsible for inspiring a number of memes and videos, so it’s slightly more memorable.
Doug Baldwin getting himself into big doo-doo
Another celebration that the NFL didn’t appreciate: Doug Baldwin pretending to – uhh, relieve himself after he put the Seattle Seahawks up by 10 points in Super Bowl XLIX. He also received an $11,000 fine from the NFL, but adding to the legend is that the only video available of his celebration is a grainy one taken from someone in the crowd.
Unfortunately for Baldwin, the New England Patriots ended up winning the game.
Cam Newton starting the dab craze
While some of these celebrations were either banned or perpetually fined, Cam Newton retired the dab heading into the 2016 NFL season to focus on something else. Still, Newton couldn’t have picked a better time to make the dab popular with him becoming MVP of the league and the Panthers returning to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2003.
Chad Johnson auditioning for Lord of the Dance
Chad Johnson gave us plenty of celebrations to choose from – he once proposed to a cheerleader following a touchdown and put on a “Future H.O.F” jacket that pissed off a lot of people. There really isn’t a right or wrong answer when it comes to which one was the best, but his Lord of the Dance-inspired Riverdance in 2005 is a classic.
Joe Horn’s cell-ebration
During a game in which he scored four touchdowns against the New York Giants in 2003, Joe Horn lifted the goal-post padding up, pulled out a cell phone and used it to place a call. While it cost Horn an absurd $30,000 in fines, it is undoubtedly one of the most creative celebrations we’ve ever seen. It was even featured in the 2005 video game Blitz: The League, which was all about excessive celebrations.
The Lambeau Leap
This one will always be on a list like this. It’s evergreen.
The Lambeau Leap was officially born in 1993, when LeRoy Butler put the finishing touches on a L.A. Raiders fumble to score a touchdown and jumped into the arms of Green Bay Packers fans in the crowd to celebrate. Fortunately, it wasn’t one of the many celebrations banned by the NFL in the 2000s, and it has been turned into a statue outside of Lambeau Field because of its popularity.
Seriously, why can’t players celebrate scoring a touchdown anymore? Maybe the NFL could go back and reconsider this one when they go back to figure out how to give the ratings a boost.