We've seen some pretty incredible celebrations in recent years. Some drew fines, others didn't. Regardless, now is as good of a time as any to look back at the best NFL celebrations of recent years.
The Seahawks aren’t known for being bashful, especially when it comes to celebrations. But with the NFL’s decision this week to loosen up on touchdown celebrations, we could see even more over-the-top celebrations in Seattle and across the NFL this season.
The new rules, approved by NFL owners, make it much easier for players to celebrate freely without risk of a fine. The new rules will allow players to use the football as a prop, celebrate as a group and roll around or flap their arms like snow angels on the ground again, if they choose.
The NFL will still penalize celebrations that are seen as offensive, embarrass opponents or mimic the use of weapons.
So more or less, the celebration flood gates are officially open. With that said, we’ve seen some pretty incredible celebrations in recent years. Some drew fines, others didn’t. Regardless, now is as good of a time as any to watch a few of the most memorable recent NFL celebrations.
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In no particular order:
Earl Thomas hugs a ref, gets flagged.
The NFL is an anti-hug league, apparently. After scooping up a fumble and running it back for a touchdown, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas celebrated in the friendliest way possible — hugging a referee. The ref promptly reached for his yellow laundry and issued a 15-yard penalty for the hug.
Thomas was not fined for the celebration, though he could have been issued a $30,387 fine for the contact with an official. A second offense could have cost him $60,775.
Michael Bennett thrusts his way toward a fine.
Michael Bennett has likened his memorable sack dance to “two angels dancing while chocolate is coming from the heavens on a Sunday morning.”
Bennett’s dance hadn’t drawn a fine, until a Thursday night football game vs. the Rams last December. The defensive end appeared to pump three times on his sack dance, spawning a $12,554 fine and another gem of a quote. “I think two pumps gets you a baby,” he said. “Three pumps gets you a fine.”
Antonio Brown’s twerk in the end zone
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown’s got some dance moves. On Sept. 12, 2016, he showed off his twerking prowess in the end zone after scoring a touchdown. The NFL wasn’t impressed. Brown got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his efforts. Then, to rub salt in the wound, the league slapped Brown with a $12,154 fine because it deemed his celebration dance “sexually suggestive.”
Emmanuel Sanders throws heat, catches heat from league
All Denver Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders wanted to do was showcase his pitching talents. Sanders mimed hurling a fastball after his fourth-quarter touchdown against the Titans on Dec. 11, 2016. Strike? Nope. Instead, the NFL called foul and fined him $12,151 for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Terrelle Pryor’s LeBron James tribute
Just in case you were getting ready to jump up Roger Goodell’s grill and accuse him of being a baseball hater, hold up. The Cleveland Browns’ Terrelle Pryor tried to pay tribute to the city’s most famous star, LeBron James, with this touchdown celebration. His reward? A $9,115 fine for using the ball as a prop while celebrating a touchdown. Whomp whomp.
Doug Baldwin takes a dump
During the Seahawks’ Super Bowl loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin chose a novel way to send a message to Patriots’ defensive back Darrelle Revis.
Baldwin scored a touchdown, then mimed dropping his pants and pooping out the football. NBC managed to keep his “celebration” out of its broadcast, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t captured by the hundreds of photographers and alert spectators.
Baldwin had to pay a fine of $11,025 for his “obscene gesture.”
Jimmy Graham dunks a football and breaks the goal post
Fact: Jimmy Graham is strong. He showcased his strength and former basketball skills to dunk footballs over goal posts during his time with the Saints. During a game against the Falcons in 2013, Graham’s dunk celebration actually tilted the goal post.
The tight end has since stopped doing his dunk celebration, as the league fined him $30,000 for a pair of dunks in 2014. And even under the new, looser rules, Graham’s dunk won’t fly with the NFL. Celebrations like Graham’s that “delay the game” will still be prohibited.
Odell Beckham Jr. shows off his moves
The modern day king of celebrations resides in New York. Along with his dazzling catches, Beckham Jr. has captivated fans with dance moves and over-the-top hijinks. Beckham hasn’t been fined for his end zone dance moves, but he was fined $18,000 for breaking dress code by wearing colorful cleats honoring TNT broadcaster Craig Sager, who passed away in December 2016.
Ezekiel Elliot jumps in a kettle for a cause
The rookie sensation did it all in 2016, including this.
And while jumping into a kettle is technically a rules violation, the NFL wasn’t going to fine Elliot for promoting the Salvation Army. Instead of a fine, Elliot donated $21,000 to the foundation. Which, as it turned out, was chump change in comparison to the $182,000 boost in donations the foundation saw in the 12 hours following Elliot’s fun-loving stunt.
Brandon Mebane shows some skin
Depending on who you ask, this is either awesome or cringe worthy. We’re going to go with the former.
Mebane was a beloved member on the Seahawks’ Super Bowl-winning defense, and part of it was because of his glorious belly-roll sack dance.
Chad Johnson/Ochocinco, king of celebrations… and fines.
Chad Ochocinco, previously named Chad Johnson, would love the new NFL rules, making it OK to use footballs as props. He putted footballs with pylons, issued CPR to footballs, wore a “Future H.O.F.” gold jacket and even held up a sign that read: “Dear NFL, please don’t fine me again!” But Ochocinco was best defined by the classic river dance celebration.
But the king of of celebrations also became a king of fines. Every time he used a prop, the NFL tapped into Ochocinco’s wallet. The biggest fine issued to Ochocinco/Johnson was for the putt stunt, costing him $30,000.
Marshawn Lynch, a cart ride to remember.
Though it didn’t happen in an NFL game, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Marshawn Lynch’s epic celebratory ride on an injury cart after his Cal Bears beat the Huskies in 2006. Young Beast Mode wasn’t fined, but the ride to spur a new rule requiring people with access to the carts to not leave keys lying around or in the ignition.