A Leap of ‘Fake’

By Michael-Louis Ingram
Updated: September 9, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — As the first batch of touchdowns graces the new football season, order has finally been restored

The game is back on and, for a moment, it’s all about what happens on the field. But, with the season barely seven or eight touchdowns old, the B.S. starts.

I refer to an oldie but goodie, my man Terrell Owens of the Dallas Cowboys.

After snagging a 35 yard pass from Tony Romo during their game with the Cleveland Browns, Owens lines up in the end zone, loosens up as if to run a track sprint (complete with crouch) then “erupts” out of the blocks in celebration of the TD, putting Dallas briefly ahead, 14-7.

The whole routine (apparently designed to compliment Olympic record setter Usain Bolt) took all of eight seconds. Cue the haters, please! The comments went from “amusing” to “there’s no place in sport for that ‘me first’ attitude!”

Since T.O. seems to inspire this kind of black or white reaction, it faded in the discourse of the day.

Until Monday night and the Green Bay-Minnesota match up at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers, Public Scrutiny Target No. 1, scores and ESPN’s Mike Tirico says, “And now young Rodgers gets to take his first ‘Lambeau Leap.’”

What kinda nonsense is this? Owens gets 15 yards for an eight-second celebration, but Rodgers is indulged the 15 seconds to jump in the stands — with no penalty?

And within these two incidents, lie the blatant hypocrisy of the No Fun League.

In my humble opinion, Owens gets penalized for a bit of creativity. The Cowboys weren’t losing, it was early in the game and it didn’t last long enough to be a distraction.

The track start didn’t taunt as much as it implied, “we’re just getting started” — which spurred Dallas on to a convincing Week One victory; although Owens and Dallas were penalized 15 yards for “excessive celebration.”

But Rodgers (and any other Packer player which scores for that matter) can run into the stands to “salute the fans” with nary a hanky hitting the ground or penalty called.

I had to actually check when the NFL gave the Packers carte blanche to perform their “leap of fake” — fake because it is as premeditated a move and as devoid of spontaneity as the extra point after a touchdown in Green Bay; and for Packer opponents, it is just as disruptive.

That it is a premeditated move makes it subject to the same statute as what Owens did; so each Lambeau Leap should mean 15 yards tacked on to the kickoff.

What also isn’t mentioned is the Packers leap regardless of the score; so even if they’re getting their asses whipped, when a touchdown is scored, someone in green and gold will leap into the stands; but they won’t be chastised for showboating like the T.O.s and Ocho Cincos of the No Fun League universe.

I had first thought former Packer receiver Robert Brooks was responsible for all this Lambeau lunacy; turns out it was Leroy Butler, a great safety for the Pack who did the first “leap” after a turnover which led to a score in a 1993 game.

But it brings up the issue of what is and isn’t showboating. How much control takes the joy out of the game for fan and player alike? And why become selective in judgment on calls when an official knows what’s coming when he works a Packer game?

It smacks of an unfair advantage to me; so call it always, or don’t call it at all.

Either one works for me; because when we played and we felt someone showboated on us, we usually took care of that matter on the field – but see, the control factor comes into play yet again.

It seems like a transparent issue, but there will be repercussions with overall integrity if the league doesn’t stop its control trip. The worst thing that could happen to the NFL is suffocating the life’s blood out of its product because it’s been sanitized for their protection.