The Elephant in the Locker Room: Those Obnoxious Endzone Celebrations

Hawks-150Yeah, the ‘Hawks are big news. Expectations are high, and everyone’s paying attention… including the national media. But every week it seems like there’s some key issue that’s getting glossed over–some topic that, for one reason or another, is being avoided. It’s the elephant in the locker room, if you will, and gosh darn if I’ll let that ride. Join us on Saturday mornings for a little closer look at our World Champions.

By Greg Wright

Marshawn Lynch broke into the national football psyche with the legendary Beastquake run in the fourth quarter of Pete Carroll’s playoff debut against the New Orleans Saints at the Clink. I think we all remember that play, don’t we?

And the climax of this iconic moment was Lynch diving backward into the endzone with an “in yo’ face” hand-grab to the crotch. If it hadn’t happened so quick, and been so astonishing, Lynch might have been flagged for taunting.

Well, the events of the last weekend in football have caused me to reflect on how things have changed since January 2011.

First, there was Utah’s unbelievable, showboating, premature TD celebration against Oregon… which ended up being a celebration for Oregon:

Kaelin Clay ironically provided his own color commentary with two thumbs down on his own nameplate.

Then on Sunday there was this:

Wow. Sometimes you just have to wonder what these guys are thinking.

Back in the day when a Seahawk named Steve Largent was setting records catching TD passes, he was famous for co-opting Vince Lombardi’s words to counsel his teammates: “You know, you just did your job by making that catch. You did absolutely nothing special. When you do something special, then you can celebrate. Act like you’ve been there before.” Largent’s routine was to simply flip the ball to the ref.

Of course, it’s hard to act like you’ve been there before when you haven’t. So perhaps the Cardinals’ John Brown can be forgiven his brash exuberance. He’s still a rookie.

We can probably also be thankful that Lynch has been in the endzone often enough that he’s not grabbing his crotch 20+ times each season. (Yes, act like you’ve been there before, too.)

What we may not have noticed is the very gentlemanly and old-fashioned routine into which Lynch has now settled when he scores. While we’re doing the Icky Shuffle in our bathrobes ’round the coffee table or high-fivin’ our white-and-otherwise-guys, Lynch goes about his business… shaking hands.

Yep. Have you noticed?

Shaking hands. No dances, no spikes, no chest-to-chest jumps, no Lambeau Leaps or close encounters with a Sharpie… even the fist-bumps generally wait until he’s back on the sideline.

It kind of stood out on Sunday, when Lynch powered his way into the endzone four times as the Hawks racked up record chunks of yardage on the ground against the hapless Giants.

Early in the week, though, I became pretty convinced that this fact has been pretty much escaping the press. It’s so much more fun to write about the John Browns of the NFL world.

Sure enough, as of Tuesday the only press outlet to have written about Lynch’s handshakes this entire season was a regional newspaper down around Camas. On Sunday night, the Columbian‘s Micah Rice wrote, “There was no boastful celebration. There was no mugging for the camera or self-glorification. Right after scoring his fourth touchdown Sunday to clinch a game he almost single-handedly won, Marshawn Lynch made the rounds. To each teammate in the end zone, the Seattle Seahawks running back offered a simple, sincere handshake.

“No words were necessary; just a simple action, boss. He won’t court his own attention, but there should be no limit to the praise given to what Lynch did Sunday. Cherish it. Play it again on the DVR. Toast it even if you’re not a Seahawks fan but simply dig hard-nosed football.”

Kudos, Mr. Rice. You scooped your big-city counterparts.

But when Mr. Rice went back to play it again on his TiVo he might have noticed that it wasn’t just the 4th TD that generated this outpouring of glad-handing. He might in fact have seen this:

I can deal with more of that.

Oh, yes, Mr. Lynch. Please, more of that.

Especially this Sunday in K.C.

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