LEON LETT LIVES – A Rob Crowne Rant
(c) Rob Crowne & Assoc., January 7, 2011
It’s 1993. Super Bowl XXV!!. Leon Lett recovers a fumble and lumbers toward the end zone. Then, about 5 yards before the goal line, Lett, no speed demon in the first place, slows down to a trot and holds the ball precariously out to the side, in a move aimed at mocking the other team. Don Beebe (no relation to Dan Bebe) catches up to Lett. Beebe knocks the ball out of Lett’s hand and through the end zone, thereby turning a touchdown into a touchback for the other side, and giving Lett a spot for eternity in the football Hall of Fools.
You’d think watching Lett become forever known as the moron of football would deter future players from risking the same fate by celebrating before the end zone. Nobody, however, ever accused football players of being smart.
In the game against the Giants, Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, with a Giant in hot pursuit, made a sharp left turn at the goal line and ran across the field parallel to the goal before going in for the score. If there were any justice in the world, Jackson would have been caught before he crossed the goal, fumbled and the ball would have been taken down the field for a touchdown the other way, forever branding Jackson as Leon Lett, Jr..
Showboating just before the end zone not only places the game score at risk, but also inspires the opponent that is being mocked to play harder. It is a move labeled “For Boneheads Only.” So, of course, Jackson is now being emulated in the college ranks. In the Texas Bowl, an Illinois player imitated Jackson’s move perfectly.
Perhaps his stupidity can be attributed to his youth, but where were the referees? Players are penalized for celebration or taunting for much less. Army was penalized for a mere salute after a touchdown. Failing to go into the end zone and running parallel to mock the other team is far less sportsmanlike than a spontaneous leap in the air or a military salute to the team’s fans in the crowd. Celebrating before in front of the touchdown is not better than celebrating after crossing it, and should be equally penalized. There is no reason for a difference.
Why would any player risk being labeled a showboat, or worse, a fool, before even getting out of college? Do they believe being tackled or fumbling while showboating will make them a Heisman trophy candidate, or cause them to become a #1 pick in the draft?
If coaches had any brains, they’d bench players who endanger their team’s success by showboating ahead of the goal line, and then make them come to the next practice wearing a Leon Lett mask.
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