If you’re like the 8th grader version of me, you live in a state not prone to showing Detroit Lions games on TV and your dial-up modem (for those of you born in the 90s, think of a slower version of DSL that makes loud noises) prevents you from watching the games online. In case you haven’t been brought up to speed, Tony Scheffler has scored a touchdown in each of the first 2 games of the season. After each of these touchdowns, he has broken out into a charming little celebration dance, first pantomiming swordfighting in Tampa Bay and then pretending to start a fire and send up smoke signals in Kansas City. Any sports blog worth its salt deals in analysis and predictions, so that’s what I’ll be tackling (haha, get it?) today. I will note that I am uniquely qualified to comment on these celebrations because I am both a fencer and a Native American.
Week 1: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’ll start you out with a video of the act. This is the best angle that I’ve seen, so we’ll get to take a good look at it.
He’s gone very literal with this dance. It conveys his message and his actions are easily recognizable as sword fighting. Aside from the occasional fencing nerd like myself (I needed twitter to explain it to me), I think everyone pretty much got it immediately. It’s both cool and family friendly while taking a slight, but not overly harsh jab at the team he was scoring on.
First, I want to applaud the un-sheathing of his sword. It looks epic and reminds me of Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia finding an Ali Baba sword while dumpster diving. Check it out around 1:25 of the video. Hilarious.
Anyway, here’s where my expertise kicks in. I’ve been fencing for 7 years now, so I’ve taught more than a few people the basics (and seen more than a few people start off with poor technique). Here’s a screenshot of Scheffler in his stance.
His knee bend seems good. Not standing straight up is probably the one thing that is the toughest thing to get new people to do, although I assume he’s better conditioned than college freshmen. In his footwork, he stays balanced with controlled, small footwork–all good. Hell, his footwork is probably better than mine. Anyway, where he goes crazy is the arm. It’s what most people think they’re going to be doing when they show up to fencing because Zorro told them so. They’re all sorely mistaken. Fencing is a sport and wild swinging motions with your arm just leave you open to attack by your opponents. However, as he isn’t fencing, but instead trying to convey his celebration message, this is the more recognizable arm action for 95% of the population. Overall, it’s light-years ahead of what Steve Smith put together a few years back (Too much weight transfer, sloppy footwork, same bad arm actions).
Week 2: Kansas City Chiefs
So far, the only angle I’ve been able to find is this one from NFL.com that blocks your view for the most part.
Again, very literal and recognizable. He starts a fire and then uses a blanket to send up smoke signals. This one was pretty obvious. Even I didn’t need help figuring it out. There were a lot of ways he could go with this one, as there are plenty of Native American stereotypes for him to feast on. He could have done a rain dance, done the tomahawk chop (like so many of the Chiefs fans), gotten drunk, built a tepee–the list goes on and on. In the end, I think he chose the best one to choreograph that didn’t require a prop, which would have earned him a 15 yard penalty and the ire of Jim Schwartz. My own sister (also Native American in case you don’t get how bloodlines work) is a both an incredible writer and an Adjunct Instructor for the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington, so I figured who better to ask to weight in. Here’s what she had to say:
The smoke signal is one of the oldest forms of communication. Some North American Indian tribes, at one time, used them to communicate simple messages over long distances: danger, help needed, all clear. Smoke signals found their place in old Westerns like Broken Arrow (the one with Jimmy Stewart, not the one in which a park ranger spoils a terrorist plot), and filmmakers began leaning on smoke signals to convey increasingly complex messages–Two hundred more men coming from the east by morning type of stuff. Today, smoke signals have become almost completely detached from their historical purpose. I don’t know much about football, but I do plant myself on a couch most Sundays, and I definitely notice that the NFL loves cinematics. I woke up late and missed this one, but if Scheffler felt that he really had to represent the Chiefs using some kind of interpretive dance, pretending to send up smoke signals was a very low-impact way to do it. No headdress, no rain dance, none of the stereotypes that make Indian identity something overtly physical. And I wouldn’t have even known what it was if Nate hadn’t told me.
Okay, so it looks like it runs in the family that the Washutas don’t understand obvious touchdown celebration dances. But smoke signals as a sign of distress? Probably not quite the message that Tony Scheffler was looking to send. Looks like we’re starting to see a pattern that his celebrations are aimed more at quick recognition of the taunt to mock the opposing team than the in-depth analysis that I’m doing here.
Here’s a screenshot of Tony Scheffler’s smoke signal.
It’s pretty similar to this cartoon of a little girl doing the same thing, so I’ll just go ahead and say he has excellent technique.
Week 3: Minnesota Vikings
So here’s where we get into predictions. Sure, buccaneers and chiefs are easy because they have a variety of stereotypes of their actions. With Vikings, it’s a bit tougher. Most of their stereotypes are based on their clothing and appearance. You can read up on the common misconceptions here. Based on that and his celebration track record, he has a few ways to go about doing a viking endzone celebration.
Based on what I know about vikings and what I know about endzone celebrations, he has 2 options. The first is to pull out a Viking helmet from under the goal post, Joe Horn cell phone style. You can see this look on, perhaps the most famous Viking of all time, Hagar the Horrible.
This would be using a prop and would cost the Lions 15 yards. The 2nd option is to pretend to lead a longboat. This one would be complicated and would have to include the entire offense. If he could get 5 guys rowing on each side of the boat while he barks orders at them, this could be an epic endzone celebration. Again, in the No Fun League, group celebrations have been outlawed, which would also be a 15 yard penalty. Jim Schwartz was quoted as saying:
“You can do whatever you want, as long as you do it by yourself. To me, I’d rather have all 11 guys if they’re going to do a goofy dance. But I don’t make the rules, and the last thing we need are penalties.”
Gosder Cherilus was benched this week for an unnecessary penalty. I don’t see Scheffler pulling off either of these celebrations if the penalty is a week riding the pine.
Scheffler could pay his respects to (or take a shot at) any number of current or former Vikings players. He could do the Jared Allen sack-dance (sack-dance is a disgusting sounding phrase by the way). The sack dance would be doable, but it’s been done (by Burleson in week 17 last year) and it’s just not up to the standard of the other two so far.
Scheffler could give Minnesota a nice hello with the Randy Moss Moon, the famous celebration where Randy Moss pantomimed pulling his pants down in front of the Green Bay crowd. Moss was fined $10,000 for that celebration, so I think Scheffler would call that one plan B and look elsewhere. Moss also had a much tamer celebration that he typically did, something about splitting the defense or something. You can see an imitation here. Seems like it wouldn’t quite make the statement Scheffler wants to convey.
I’m sure the one guy that the Lions would like to take a shot at is Cris Carter. Before this season, Cris Carter now famously (to Lions fans anyway) took a shot at Calvin Johnson by leaving him off his list of top 5 WR in the NFL and rather than backpedaling immediately (like a corner lined up on CJ…), called out Calvin, saying he doesn’t need to be double teamed to be shut down. Calvin Johnson has responded with 4 TDs through 2 games and copious amounts of points for my fantasy team so far this year. However, I’m not old enough to remember and youtube doesn’t have any video of Cris Carter doing any endzone celebrations. That about ends the possibility of player rip-offs.
Mock the city:
Earlier this week, Nate Burleson was quoted as saying,
“I’m actually going to copy him with the themed celebration. Whatever team we’re playing, I’m going to do something to honor – or mock – that city.”
This is where things get interesting. Mocking the city opens up a few doors. First of all, the Vikings play in Minneapolis, and as far as I know, there are no Minneapolis stereotypes that cannot be extended to the rest of the state. First, I’ll point out that Minnesota is home to the Mall of America. I seriously doubt that anyone would get the reference if Scheffler were to start shopping in the endzone, so we’ll move on. In looking up common Minnesota stereotypes, the only one I could find is that people from Minnesota are unusually nice, like sickeningly, horribly nice. Well, not quite, but whatever, let’s make fun of them. You can read about “Minnesota nice” on this Wikipedia page.
“Minnesota nice is the stereotypical behavior of long-time Minnesota residents, to be courteous, reserved, and mild mannered. According to Annette Atkins, the cultural characteristics of Minnesota nice include a polite friendliness, an aversion to confrontation, a tendency toward understatement, a disinclination to make a fuss or stand out, emotional restraint, and self-deprecation.”
As far as I know, you can’t be penalized or fined for being nice. Therefore, it is my conclusion that Tony Scheffler will score a touchdown and be very courteous in an attempt to not stand out in any way.
I’m not planning on making a lot of updates to my posts once they’re up, but this one is absolutely warranted. Earlier today, Justin Rogers of Mlive.com reported on a possible Viking-related dance move. In what is quite possibly the greatest thing that the internet has brought before my eyes, I bring you, Techno Viking:
Unfortunately (and with good reason), Tony Scheffler has decided that he is not worthy of the glory (I’m paraphrasing) that is Techno Viking (yes, it must be capitalized. it’s THAT good), and will not perform this dance as an endzone celebration on Sunday.