The Football Celebration That Dare Not Speak Its Name

This is a family website, so I have to be very delicate in how I talk about running back Rashard Mendenhall’s end-of-game celebration during the AFC Title Game on Sunday.  Click here to watch the video for a closer look at what Mendenhall did.

Mendenhall lays on top of quarterback Ben Reothlisberger and then… Well, you can see what happens. Anyway, Mendenhall’s brief celebration was captured on YouTube for posterity and sent around the blogosphere, where it was greeted with hearty snickers.

But no one has actually ASKED Mendenhall about this little celebration yet. Media Day at the Super Bowl is a week away, and I have to think some enterprising young sportswriter will go up to Mendenhall and ask him point blank why he was rubbin’ against his own teammate.

The thing is, Mendenhall has nothing to be ashamed of. He was excited. Guys do weird things when they get excited. They pat each other’s buns. They hug. They pick each other up and jump around. I don’t think there’s anything more to it than that.

Mendenhall was really jazzed to be going to the Super Bowl, and in the heat of the moment, he got a little too close to his quarterback. Things happen. Sometimes even you can’t explain why you do what you do when the adrenaline takes over.

He shouldn’t hide from the question. He shouldn’t try and say he was doing something other than what he was doing. He should just say, “You know what? Yes, I did that for a second. I needed to do that to something, and Ben was the only thing around.”

We live in a more enlightened age now. Mendenhall’s celebration could open the door to football players becoming more tolerant of being openly affectionate with one another. Bill Cowher once kissed Jerome Bettis on the sideline. There’s nothing wrong with that, I say. You love your teammates. You love winning. Sometimes, that means your hips get the best of you.

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