Tooting your own ‘Horn’ and then some
December 29, 2003
By Jared Green
Tribune staff writer
There are few things in life more important than self-expression. A person who isn’t allowed to speak and act the way they want will eventually do one of two things: boil over in a rage or shrink into a shell of a human being.
To what end is this philosophical bent invading your daily sports page? Frankly, I’m worried about the mental health of the wide receivers of the National Football League. Guys like Terrell Owens, Joe Horn and Chad Johnson are being stifled by the league, fined and ridiculed every time they try to have a little fun with inanimate objects.
Sharpies, cell phones and pre-made signs never really hurt anyone, did they? Nothing is lost when a prima donna wideout goes to great lengths to celebrate a touchdown; the other team should already be heading for the sideline to have their butts chewed by a coach, while the referees should be huddling together and discussing the point spread. The only people the celebrations really impact are the fans, both at the stadium and at home, who may or may not be amused by the antics of an overpaid stud horse.
And that’s what the game should be about: entertaining the fans. The players, coaches and owners are all richer than goose fat, to such an extent that these receivers are willing to give up more money than I make in a year in order to have a little fun. Who cares what some stuffed suit thinks crosses the line? It should be up to the fans whether the planned celebrations continue or stop and then it’s all about making us laugh.
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T.O.’s Sharpie Incident? Funny and original. Horn’s cell-phone call? Boring and derivative, although you’d never know by the media explosion over it. Chad Johnson’s “Please Don’t Fine Me Again” sign? Clever, but not hilarious.
The best celebration was the first of its kind, when Owens followed a touchdown catch by sprinting to the Dallas Cowboys’ midfield star and posing like a rock star. It brought immediate reaction from fans and opponents alike (Emmitt Smith retaliated angrily after a subsequent touchdown run, then T.O. started a brawl by repeating his offense). I, as a Cowboy hater and 49er fan, loved it, and Owens will always hold a special place in my heart no matter how big of a jackass he becomes.
So while I’m powerless to stop the NFL from dispensing fines over these trivial events, I can suggest a few new antics for the show poodles of the sporting world. Most of these will lead to fines, but it’s only money, right?
Meals on wheels: The receiver plants a cart of food in a tunnel near the endzone and has a waiter roll it out to him after a score. Donning a chef’s hat, the receiver then whips up a quick but gourmet meal with a local flavor (gumbo in New Orleans, fried chicken in Atlanta, etc.). Maybe a fine could be avoided if the meal was then served to a league official in attendance.
The Bomb: There has to be a way to work fireworks into a routine. Perhaps a bottle rocket down the sock a la T.O.’s Sharpie, or a string of firecrackers in the jockstrap and a lighter taped inside the helmet. Then again, with the country on Orange Alert this might result in a player’s arrest, so this one might have to wait until we’re safely back to Yellow.
Pop Star: A well-paid receiver could easily afford to hire a Queen of the Teenyboppers to break into a live performance for a touchdown catch. Think Britney (Oops, I Did It Again), Christina (Underappreciated) or Jessica Simpson (wait a minute, she sings?). Just imagining the sight of a line of tubby offensive linemen writhing around like backup dancers puts a little bounce in my step.
Time-saver: The next time Cincinnati’s Johnson, who claims not to care about the fines he incurs for his creativity, scores a touchdown, he should just pull $10,000 out of his pants and burn it in the endzone. For the fainter of heart or financially challenged, Monopoly money could be a useful substitute.
These ideas may not all be practical, but they’d sure make me laugh. Here’s to creativity in sports, fighting against the tide of sameness and conformity in a world where corporations have taken over most of the interesting and rebellious aspects of culture.
But I swear, if a Cowboy ever dances on the 49er logo…