The trouble with celebrating in the NFL nowadays is that the rules are constantly changing. The days of Terrell Owens and Emmitt Smith taking turns to run to celebrate on the Dallas Cowboys’ star at midfield are long gone.
There is now a no-props policy, along with approximately one million other rules that no one can keep track of. Nowadays, players have to get more creative. Today, over-the-top celebrations are often flagged. Instead, it’s all about creativity.
In 2014, we saw more than our fair share of creative celebrations. Here are some of the best of 2014.
11. Bengals players troll Money Manziel
This weekend should have been Johnny Football's time to shine. Unfortunately, Johnny 'Money' Manziel was a bit of a disappointment in his first game. Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga swatted down a pass from Manziel and turned the quarterback's infamous hand gesture around on him. It's almost enough to make you feel bad for Manziel... until you remember that he's a guy who made up his own signature hand gesture and it's about how rich he is. Then it doesn't feel so bad to make fun of him anymore.
10. Scott Chandler's snow shoveling
After Buffalo was pelted with a gigantic snowstorm, the Bills and Jets were forced to play their game in Detroit. When Scott Chandler — the Bills’ tight end — managed to reach the end zone, he paid tribute to the situation back home, by shoveling imaginary snow inside Detroit’s dome.
9. Doug Balwin’s tribute to Percy Harvin
Shortly after the Seahawks traded Percy Harvin, reports began to circulate that his contentious relationships with his teammates, which occasionally escalated to physical violence, were to blame. His fight with Doug Baldwin was high on the list of reasons Seattle traded him to the Jets earlier this year.
Baldwin fired back with this flourish after catching a fourth-quarter touchdown pass against the Rams. While it's not explicitly about his fight with Harvin, it also isn't NOT explicitly about it, either. You be the judge, dear reader.
8. Brian Hartline sinks a birdie
Points to Brian Hartline for creativity and execution. This might’ve been the most creative celebration we’ve seen this season. Watch as Brian Hartline sinks a putt…and then gets flagged for his awesome celebration.
7. Joique Bell – Hip Hop Hooray
Like Hartline’s celebration, Joique Bell’s comes down to execution. Not only does Bell execute the leap into the crowd, but also he maintains his balance on the edge of the railing, while wearing cleats. Let’s hope he tries this at Lambeau next.
6. Kyle Juszczyk does the LeBron
Kyle Juszczyk is a fullback, so when he scored a touchdown, he wasn’t going to waste his opportunity. He surveyed the situation, realized he was in Cleveland, and went for the most Cleveland celebration of all time.
5. Kendall Wright’s response to J.J. Watt
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright saw J.J. Watt's selfie-bration in the Titans’ first meeting with the Texans, so when Wright caught a touchdown pass from Zach Mettenberger — the quarterback who Watt was mocking (see below) — Wright also broke out his imaginary iPhone and took a selfie.
The only problem? The Titans were down 24-0 prior to Wright’s touchdown. Wright’s move is therefore equivalent to taking a real selfie, posting it on Facebook and getting fewer than two likes.
4. Brian Tyms pays tribute to Randy Moss
When Patriots wide receiver Brian Tyms caught his first ever NFL touchdown, he didn’t panic or lose his composure. Instead, he paid tribute to his idol, Randy Moss, by using Moss’ vintage celebration.
Of course, Moss also played in New England for three and a half seasons, which makes this celebration that much more perfect.
3. Willie Young goes fishing
The Bears have been a nightmare this season. Willie Young’s sack celebration is one of the lone bright spots. Young broke out this move when he sacked Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick all the way back in Week 2.
It’s still genius. Fishing -- like sacking a quarterback -- is a process. First you got to prepare the bait -- beat the lineman in front of you -- and then you have to reel in the big fish -- bring down the quarterback. Now that’s a job well done.
2. Pat McAfee goes golfing and dancing
Pat McAfee is a punter and knows his opportunities to celebrate are limited. So, when he unleashed a bomb that pinned the Ravens deep in their own territory, the Colts’ punter went all-in on his celebration.
First, we have the golf swing. Unlike Brian Hartline’s golf celebration, McAfee isn’t putting for a birdie; he’s chipping out of the rough.
Then, McAfee goes for the classic jump-and-bump celebration with a teammate. But McAfee doesn’t actually jump -- he breaks out into another dance. McAfee’s teammate also doesn’t jump, which leads me to believe that the players choreographed this celebration. So, Pat McAfee -- a punter -- planned out his celebration before the game. It doesn’t get much better than that.
1. J.J. Watt's Selfie
When J.J. Watt took Zach Mettenberger down for a sack, Watt also made sure he put the rookie in his place. Prior to the game, Mettenberger posted a selfie -- what he called a “stacheselfie” -- and Watt noticed. So, after sacking Mettenberger for the second time, Watt decided to take a selfie of his own.
After the game, Watt had this to say about the selfie celebration: “It’s just kind of a reminder, this is the National Football League, not high school. Welcome to the show.”
You'll be glad to know that Mettenberger is getting help for his selfie problems and has been able to move on with his life.
Picking a winner was a tough decision, but the edge goes to Watt’s selfie. He’s the biggest star on this list, and his celebration wasn’t just relevant in regards to selfie culture, it was also taking a shot at the other team’s quarterback. No only did Watt do what Watt does best, but also he made it feel personal. There’s not much more we can ask of a celebration.
We're also handing out a special commendation to Juszczyk. The fullback’s celebration wasn’t the flashiest or the most elaborate, but that’s exactly the point. Juszczyk’s celebration ensured his team wouldn’t be penalized in any way, plus is there a bigger way to taunt Cleveland's entire fan base than to imitate LeBron James -- their king -- after scoring a touchdown?
Plus, he’s a fullback. Fullbacks get extra points on clever celebrations.
Sean Wagner-McGough is a writer for Next Impulse Sports