By Bill Tamburrino
I have a confession to make. I have been listening to sports talk radio and watching too many sports talk shows on television. Both have gotten the best of me and I have been seeing red.
When Willey “White Shoes” Johnson did what many believed was the first touchdown celebration dance, his version of the Funky Chicken, it was original and new and in some ways entertaining.
That was in 1975 and he was on the now defunct Houston Oilers. Maybe that is why they are now defunct. I don’t know for sure.
Ickey Woods also came up with a dance in the 1980s when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals. The NFL considered banning planned end zone celebrations but unfortunately after an investigation they didn’t (have the guts)!
Those were original to some extent, but now, 37 years later, there is nothing original about dancing or end zone celebrations. Everybody who scores tries to come up with a dance or moves of their own. Some who don’t get into the end zone very often are now coming up with first down moves and gyrations.
When Mark Gastineau of the New York Jets sacked Jim Plunkett of the then Los Angeles Raiders in 1982 and did something like a dance, it was sort of original. Most thought it was bush. It actually looked more like a seizure than a dance.
Now almost everybody who makes a tackle or trips over a guy who makes a tackle has some sort of celebration.
Some even say that they are spontaneous. Pulling a Sharpie out of your sock and signing a ball is not spontaneous. Mocking a player on the other team who went to prison for shooting himself in the leg is not spontaneous. Running 20 yards from all of the other players to draw attention to one’s self is not spontaneous.
Acting like an idiot may be natural, but it is not spontaneous. The guy who mocked the former prisoner cost his team a game and probably a playoff berth. That is spontaneous.
Congratulating a teammate is spontaneous. Being happy and jumping up and down is spontaneous. Jumping into the stands is no longer spontaneous. Pointing to the heavens is getting trite. Baseball has a way of monitoring celebrations that are bush.
What I find ironic is that callers and commentators are criticizing Tim Tebow for saying a prayer of thanks. Tebow leaves the field and kneels down and says a prayer of thanks when he makes a good play. It is impossible to get out of camera range, as Nick Novak found out when nature made a call but Tebow doesn’t try to draw attention to himself, in my opinion.
People are not upset when a player acts like an idiot, but thanking one’s God draws criticism. Go figure.
I have an idea. Allow players to do their orchestrations when they make a play. But they have to draw attention to themselves when they blow a play, get beat, fumble, get intercepted, miss a tackle. Then football would look more like the June Taylor Dancers than the NFL.
I have already made my thought clear about the color pink. Let’s beat that disease!
The Raiders have always been the bad guys in black. San Diego State’s colors have always been black. Army has been the Black Knights on the Hudson for a long time. Oregon State, Missouri and dozens of other teams have always worn black uniforms.
Now more teams that don’t have black as a part of their school’s colors are wearing black than are wearing their real colors. Everybody hates the Raiders, but everybody wants to look and act like them.
I watched a bowl game with Arizona State playing Boise State. My daughter and son went to ASU and their official colors are maroon and gold. I looked it up.
ASU wore almost all black uniforms against Boise State and they were a black eye for their fans and school. They tried to get more penalties than the Raiders. They succeeded.
Just about every high school team and college team now wears black, no matter what their school is. I guess we should just be thankful that the Raiders’ colors are not magenta or mauve or neon. Then all of the wanabees would be wearing those colors.
When the University of Oregon started wearing ugly uniforms, it was original. They brought new meaning and new numerical possibilities to the concept of ugly uniforms. Nike originated at Oregon and sponsors the Ducks’ uniforms.
Maryland has now gotten in the race. Under Armour’s founder went to Maryland. Under Armour is trying to out ugly Oregon in the uniform market. Several other teams are getting in the race. There is no winner in that race.
Ever notice that the really great teams and franchises hardly ever change uniforms or make only slight changes to them? One example that I will give is the New York Yankees. The last innovation that they made was when they were the first team to wear numbers on their uniforms. Since then they have worn just about the same uniforms every year. How many times have the Padres changed uniforms? Colors? Do the math.
The same is true with just about every sport on every level. Alabama, Penn State, USC, Notre Dame, the Forty-Niners, Packers, the Colts, the Celtics, the Bruins (NHL) the Dodgers and the Chargers. I could go on and on.
You get the idea. Those teams have made some changes over the decades but you can picture in your mind what they wear. What do the Yankees do on retro day?
Sure, some good teams have changed uniforms completely. Styles change and that is a good thing. Remember the basketball shorts that Magic and Bird wore?
But changing colors and traditions can change your image as well as people’s perception of your team. However, anything looks good on a winner. That is the difference between Oregon and Maryland.
Have a Happy New Year. That does not offend as many people as wishing other holiday greetings.