Thursday, August 5, 2010

shameless promotion (2.0), part vi

Editor's Note: In the continuing effort of this blog to shamelessly promote the career of its primary author, here is his latest newspaper column. For more, visit the paper's Web site, or follow us on twitter.
Art of celebration can be a dangerous one

When I played football in high school, one of our great nemeses was Montgomery’s Robert E. Lee High School.

A tradition-rich program (eight state championships in all), Lee was the constant thorn in the side of Opelika; three different times, Opelika advanced into the playoffs, only to be foiled by the Generals.

So a huge celebration was already swelling the night we finally broke through and beat Lee. We were leading 17-14, when a sack by our defense appeared to drain all the time off the clock.

Students rushed the field, along with players. Water buckets started pouring. It was a night to remember.

Only then it wasn’t — there had been a fumble on the play, and the clock stopped with a few seconds left for a change of possession. Officials herded everyone off the field for one more snap.

The final score didn’t change, but one weird result did occur: in the resulting confusion, our basketball coach fell and tore up his knee. The resulting surgery and rehab forced him to limp through most of the rest of the season.

I found myself thinking about that recently, after reading that Chris Coghlan, a rookie with the Florida Marlins, tore ligaments in his knee during an attempt to blast teammate Wes Helms in the face with a shaving-cream pie after Helms’ game-winning hit vs. the Atlanta Braves.

Interestingly, Coghlan’s injury isn’t even the weirdest thing to happen during the celebration of a big baseball victory. That honor would go to the Angels’ Kendry Morales, who broke his left leg after an overly dramatic leap into home plate following a game-winning homer. Read that last sentence again.

Of course, there’s no discussion related to over-exuberance in sports celebration without the Gramatica brothers, NFL field goal kickers who celebrated every made kick like V.E. Day. Most famously, middle brother Bill, then with the Arizona Cardinals, once injured his knee celebrating a made kick … in the first quarter, in a game that absolutely zero playoff implications. Could the trainers even look at him afterwards?

Really, when observing the violent nature of so many sports celebrations, it’s amazing more people don’t disfigure themselves permanently. After blocking a Daniel Lincoln field goal to save a 12-10 win over Tennessee last October, Alabama’s 350-pound tackle Terrence Cody (in order) tossed his helmet, ran approximately 50 yards at a sprint (dangerous for a guy that size) and leapt in the air to execute a chest bump with someone not even half his size. Somehow he crashed back to earth, none the worse for wear.

I’d like to say I know better, but then again, I don’t. Once after returning an interception for a touchdown I violently chest bumped a teammate, knocking him down and stepping on his hand in the process.

Not so bad, right? It was a flag football game.

“Maybe you tone it down next time,” my then-girlfriend (now my wife) said.

If there is a next time, sure.

1 comment:

Peter said...

I still rate your mauling me in the corner of the end zone our freshman year after I caught the game-winning two point conversion among the most over-exuberant celebrations of all time. Makes my left kidney hurt just thinking about it.