Saturday, July 9, 2011

CFL touchdown celebrations walk the plank

The CFL's had its share of bizarre touchdown celebrations over the years. Some, like Hamilton's famous "I'm On A Boat" nautical endeavour and Winnipeg's "Duck, Duck, Duck, Goose" game, have been brilliant; others, like Arland Bruce III's infamous Michael Jackson tribute, haven't been the greatest ideas. We'll leave it up to you to decide which category the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' "planking" celebration in Friday's win over Hamilton (the game Terrence Edwards is pictured above hauling in a pass during) slots into:

For those unaware, planking is a bizarre fad that involves lying down in odd places and taking photos of it. The term was coined in Australia this year, but the history of the game appears to date back to as early as 1997 in Britain. Recently, it's invaded the sports world with everyone from NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson to NBA players John Wall and Gilbert Arenas to Atlanta Falcons' linebacker Akeem Dent to the LSU mascot getting in on the action. The best one wasn't even intentionally a plank, but rather Orlando Magic centre Dwight Howard making fun of former teammate (and former Toronto Raptor) Vince Carter's propensity to dive (and suffer injuries). At this point, though, at least from this perspective, planking appears to have followed in the footsteps of another nautically-inspired reference and jumped the shark.

That doesn't take away from the magnitude of this touchdown, though. Heading into Friday night's game, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats were thought to be the top contender to knock off Montreal in the CFL's East Division, while the Blue Bombers were generally seen as likely to wind up in the East cellar again after a 4-14 showing last year. Hamilton was leading 16-13 at the time of this play, but Tiger-Cats' quarterback Kevin Glenn drastically overthrew slotback Dave Stala and the ball went straight into the arms of Winnipeg defensive back Alex Suber (who'd get the "man" addition if the CFL didn't already have that nickname). Suber proved to be Hamilton's kryptonite, juggling and then catching the ball near his own 45-yard line and taking it back 55 yards for a touchdown. That interception eventually led to Glenn being pulled in favour of backup Quinton Porter (touching off a potential quarterback controversy in Hamilton), and gave Winnipeg a lead they would never relinquish. They went on to win 24-16 and start their season on a positive note, and Suber had a fantastic night all around. If only he had better taste in touchdown celebrations...

On the whole, though, the CFL's lenience (as compared to the NFL's crackdowns) has led to some great moments and brought publicity to the league around the world. In general, players have used that lenience to have some fun, and it's added interesting moments to the games. It's notable that the league embraces creativity and spontaneity to some extent, too; after all, that planking video comes courtesy of their official YouTube account. This celebration from Suber and the Bombers wasn't all that bad, even if it was unoriginal, and it should draw some attention. If they want ideas for the future though, here are five suggested touchdown celebrations any CFL team's welcome to use:

1. Football karaoke: Inspired by U.S. women's national team striker Megan Rapinoe's version of "Born in the U.S.A" following her Women's World Cup goal Saturday, how about if football players grab a TSN mike and start belting out a Canadian hit? There are plenty of options: BTO's "Taking Care of Business", Rush's "Limelight", Arcade Fire's "Ready To Start", maybe even k-os's "Crabbuckit"...

2. More Olympic events: We've seen the Calgary Stampeders' bobsled celebration and the Argonauts' rowing, but what about further Olympic sports? Maybe some biathlon or synchronized diving?

3. Surfing: Particularly applicable to Argonauts' star receiver Chad "The Flying Hawaiian" Owens.

4. Human pyramids: Nothing can potentially go wrong with 250-350 pound guys jumping on each others' backs, right?

5. Guitar solo: We've seen cannons and boats as sideline props, so some guitar company should get in on this. Who'd object to watching someone record a touchdown, grab a guitar and crank out a little "Smoke on the Water"?

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments, or shoot them to me on Twitter using the #CFLcelebrations hashtag!

Jill Arrington Tami Donaldson Padma Lakshmi Sarah Mutch Gabrielle Union

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