Touchdown celebration

Washington Huskies players celebrate a touchdown

Touchdown celebrations are sometimes performed after the scoring of a touchdown in American football. Individual celebrations have become increasingly complex over time, from simple "spiking" of the football in decades past to the elaborately choreographed displays of the current era.

Individual arenas have also developed unique celebratory rituals such as the running of "Quick Six", and the "touchdown horse" of the Calgary Stampeders, after each hometown touchdown.[1]

NFL football

Taunting and celebration are both offenses in the NFL; as a result, gaudy displays are often frowned upon. If the league views the act as highly offensive, large fines and even suspensions can be issued. In 2006 the NFL, in an effort to cut down on celebrations, amended its rules to include an automatic 15-yard penalty against any player who leaves his feet or uses a prop, like a towel, the goal post or post base or more specifically the football.[2] The penalty is called as "excessive celebration", and the yardage is charged against the offending player's team when that team kicks off to the opposing team.

Simply spiking the ball is not interpreted as excessive celebration unless the ball is spiked towards another player on the opposing team. Jumping onto the outer wall to accept contact from fans, such as the Lambeau Leap, is also not considered such, as it is off the field of play.

NCAA football

College football, governed by the NCAA also penalizes excessive celebrations with a 15-yard penalty. NCAA Football Rule 9-2, Article 1(a)(1)(d) prohibits "Any delayed, excessive, prolonged or choreographed act by which a player (or players) attempts to focus attention upon himself (or themselves)"; in addition, Rule 9-2, Article 1(a)(2) asserts that "After a score or any other play, the player in possession immediately must return the ball to an official or leave it near the dead-ball spot."[3] Additionally, if a player's actions are considered "unsportsmanlike conduct" the result is dead-ball foul; a "flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct" foul requires player ejection. If a player’s nonfootball-related act (e.g. taunting or cursing) causes an opponent to physically retaliate, it is considered fighting and both players are ejected.[4]

Arena football

The rules for celebrations in the AFL are the same as the NFL; no props are allowed. However, choreographed or group dances are often seen after a score.

CFL football

Player celebrations

The CFL is much more lenient than the NFL when it comes to touchdown dances. It often has very small, if any, penalties handed out to players who celebrate excessively.

CFL end zone celebrations often include more than one player, often a whole wide receiving corps of 4-6 players. Past celebrations have included five Calgary Stampeders receivers holding out their hands and mimicking the pouring of drinks from a champagne bottle, then stumbling around as if drunk; another end-zone routine simulated a bobsleigh run when receiver Jeremaine Copeland sat down and wrapped his legs around the goal-line pylon with the rest of the receiving corps tucked in behind him. The same group also pantomimed a four-seater stationary bicycle, which all players played a role for the bicycle.

Edmonton Eskimos punt returner Henry "Gizmo" Williams celebrated punt return touchdowns by doing a backflip in the end zone.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have a celebration whereby players form a circle, toss a football in the air in the middle of the circle and then fall directly backwards in unison when the ball lands on the ground as if a hand grenade has exploded.

In the 2008 CFL season, the Winnipeg receiving corps did a few celebrations, most notably a version of Duck, Duck, Goose, as well as a walking race across the end zone.[5]

In the 2009 CFL season, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats did a memorable celebration in Winnipeg, as a fishing boat was at the edge of the end zone. Hamilton scored two touchdowns within a minute, both times got into the boat and celebrating as though they were fishing, literally showboating.[6]

During the August 14, 2010, a celebration by the Toronto Argonauts in which several players mimicked a rowing crew drew an Objectionable Conduct penalty.

Stadium celebrations

Long-standing tradition at McMahon Stadium has a horse run the length of the stadium with a team flag each time the hometown Calgary Stampeders scores a touchdown.[7] The Montreal Alouettes' touchdown celebration is pretty similar; it features a man carrying an Alouettes flag and running across the field every time the Alouettes score six points at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium. Other stadiums have developed similar traditions. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have a small airplane (known as the "touchdown plane")[8] while the Saskatchewan Roughriders fire smoke mortars from behind the goalposts in celebration of home team touchdowns. The Edmonton Eskimos have a fire engine circle the field after each touchdown, throwing souvenirs into the crowd.

Memorable celebrations

Effect on game play

It has been argued that celebration penalties have affected the outcomes of games.

The September 6, 2008, game between Washington and BYU saw the Washington quarterback, Jake Locker, score a touchdown, putting Washington within one point with two seconds to go. Upon entering the endzone, however, Locker threw the ball high in the air. His team was penalized, the referee applying NCAA Rule 9-2, Article 1(a)(2), which asserts that "after a score or any other play, the player in possession immediately must return the ball to an official or leave it near the dead-ball spot," paragraph (c) of which expressly forbids "throwing the ball high into the air." BYU blocked the ensuing 38-yard extra point attempt and won the game.[23]

On December 30, 2010, Kansas State's Adrian Hillburn scored a 30-yard touchdown catch with 1:08 left in the 2010 New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse, narrowing the score to 36-34. He subsequently saluted the crowd in a quick military fashion and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. The penalty pushed Kansas State's 2-point conversion attempt (to tie the game and possibly force it into overtime) back to the 18-yard line. Kansas State then missed the 2-point conversion, and Syracuse went on to win the game.[24]

See also


  1. Quick Six webpage
  2. Archived index at the Wayback Machine.
  3. 2008 NCAA FOOTBALL RULES AND INTERPRETATIONS, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Page 112, Accessed August 4, 2008.
  4. Unsportsmanlike vs. Personal Fouls, 2007 NCAA Football Guide, Page 3, Accessed August 4, 2008.
  5. Video of touch down celebration:
  7. Stampeders homepage
  8. Winnipeg Sun article
  9. Bill Pennington (September 30, 2001). "Giants' Wide Receivers May End Long Drought". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-03.
  10. Finley, Bill (November 13, 2005). "Father of End-Zone Dance Explains His Happy Feet". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
  11. "The Fun Bunch". Archived from the original on 2008-01-21. Retrieved 2008-02-03.
  12. Gwen Knapp (December 21, 1997). "Dances with Hanks". Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  13. Phil Taylor (December 1, 1997). "Basketball Jones". Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  18. Chase, Chris (October 21, 2012). "NFL Gangnam Style: Mike Tolbert vs. Jason Pierre-Paul (VIDEO)". Retrieved 2012-10-23.
  19. Saraf, Sid (21 November 2013). "Jimmy Graham pulls a Shaq and bends the goal post in Atlanta". Fox Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  20. Chiappelli, Kirstie. "Doug Baldwin says vulgar celebration directed at group". Sporting News. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  21. Wagoner, Nick. "NFL fines Doug Baldwin $11,025". Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  23. Booth, Tim (2008-09-06). "BYU holds back Washington on last-second PAT block". Associated Press. Archived from the original on September 13, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  24. "Excessive celebration flag curbs K-State's enthusiasm". Retrieved 2011-01-01.
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