RENTON — Earl Thomas won’t let his daughter watch it. “I make her turn her head,” he said.
Luke Willson refuses to discuss it. “No comment,” he said.
Richard Sherman can’t think of a word to describe it. “You got me,” he said.
As the Seahawks marched to the Super Bowl this season, defensive lineman Michael Bennett danced there — if Bennett’s hip-swiveling gyration after big plays can be described as dancing.
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“I would describe it as two angels dancing while chocolate is coming from the heavens on a nice Sunday morning,” he said.
Bennett’s dance has evolved over time, from PG in Week 2 to what cornerback Byron Maxwell described as “nasty” in recent weeks. Coach Pete Carroll would rather look away when Bennett gets going, but he’s OK with it. That’s because Bennett’s dancing follows big plays, and he’s had plenty of those this season.
He leads Seattle with 8.5 sacks. He returned a fumble for a touchdown on “Monday Night Football” against New Orleans (that dance prompted one writer to Tweet that Bennett should get flagged for “excessive sexiness”). He forced and recovered another fumble against the Saints in the playoffs. And he nearly returned a fumble for a touchdown against San Francisco last week.
“You’re the most opportunistic lineman I’ve ever seen in my life,” Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon told Bennett in the locker room after the NFC Championship Game.
That, of course, leads to more opportunities to dance. It started with Bennett watching “Ravishing” Rick Rude, the former professional wrestler who put his hands behind his head and slowly rotated his hips (think a mustachioed hoola-hooper in slow motion).
At first, Bennett’s celebrations were fairly typical. A little moving of the hips, a little pumping of the arms after a sack against San Francisco in the second game of the year. But in the second half of the season, Bennett’s dance has looked more like an after-hours version of the Macarena. He puts his hands on his head and starts rotating his 274-pound body. Some look away. Others are unable to look away.
“And it’s just gotten more and more crazy,” defensive end Cliff Avril said. “If you look at the dance from Week 1 to Week 20, it’s gotten more intense.”
The dance has also spawned imitators. The NFL is the copycat league, after all.
Seahawks fan Hunter Hughes of Kent watched Bennett do his thing for the first time in the season finale against St. Louis. Hughes witnessed something he liked, something that resonated deep within him because he, too, likes to dance. From the comforts of his living room, Hughes mimicked Bennett and, according to one witness, “killed it.”
“But me and mom had to have a little powwow with him that he couldn’t just hop up in the middle of music class and start doing the dance,” said Derek Hughes, the witness who also happens to go by the alias Dad. “Being that he’s 5, he didn’t understand why. We told him it could be perceived as naughty, but he didn’t understand.
“I said, ‘You know how there are some words you hear when Dad is watching football that you’re not allowed to repeat? Well, this is a dance you can do during football but not anywhere else.’ ”
Hughes now does the dance any chance he can get. So does Bennett.
“It’s Michael Bennett,” Avril said in explanation. “Anybody that knows Michael Bennett personally understands where that comes from.”
Bennett and the Seahawks will travel to New Jersey on Sunday in preparation for the Super Bowl. Once there, they will be put on sports’ biggest stage. Millions of eyes will watch their every move, dancing included.
“I think America is ready,” Bennett said. “Maybe I can get on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ afterward.”
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org