Since the beginning of time, athletes from all walks of life have carried a certain level of swagger, or as the kids today call it, “swag”. Epic tales of athlete swag from years past have become part of American folklore that future generations of sports fans have come to appreciate. From Babe Ruth’s “called shot” in the 1932 World Series, to Muhammad Ali standing over and taunting a knocked out Sonny Liston, to Joe Namath’s Super Bowl victory guarantee, these flamboyant and iconic displays of swag in sports history will be revered forever. However, in the case of Alabama Crimson Tide running back T.J. Yeldon, his “new-school” display of swag has been met with scorn and public humiliation.
After the talented sophomore runner reached paydirt against the Texas A&M Aggies this past Saturday, Yeldon demonstrated his swag as he made a two handed-throat slash gesture to the crowd and then rubbed his index and thumb fingers together in a “show me the money” type fashion. He was then flagged by the game officials for excessive celebration, reprimanded by his coaching staff, and slammed by virtually every single talking bobble-head meat puppet on ESPN’s college-football media panel. On the Monday following top ranked Alabama’s victory over Texas A&M, Yeldon issued a public statement apologizing for his “selfish” actions.
Call me crazy, but I find this negative backlash against Yeldon to be an excessive and flagrant abuse of powers. To publicly vilify and scrutinize a young man who was just enjoying a moment of athletic prowess is completely shameful and un-American in my opinion. While public displays of athlete swag are nothing new in the sporting landscape, admonishing those who participate in these types of demonstrations seems to be all the rage. Let me take this opportunity to fight back on Yeldon’s behalf and systematically embarrass those who completely overreacted to his touchdown celebration. After all, it was only a touchdown celebration: Yeldon didn’t ACTUALLY slash anybody’s throat.
As we know, the NCAA is a complete joke of an institution that makes Major League Baseball look like an efficient well-oiled machine. To institute personal foul penalties for celebrating in a certain way seems un-necessary and solves no problems whatsoever. I am in favor of putting a time limit on end-zone celebrations to keep the game moving at a steady pace, but as long as players don’t instigate fights with opponents or fans, athletes should be able to celebrate however they want. Last time I checked, college football is not about choir-boy values and gentlemanly acts of kindness, it’s sports entertainment for crying out loud.
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban also has no credibility with his comments regarding the Yeldon situation. “That's not us. That's not our program. That's not what we do. We've never, ever tolerated it and we've never ever had it," said King Hypocrite Saban. So enlighten us Nick, what exactly do you do at Alabama besides use ineligible players in order to win National Championships and successfully cover it up so your wins are not vacated and scholarships are not reduced in the future? Inquiring minds want to know.
Finally, the ESPN blowhards that we as college football fans are forced to put up with draw the most ire from me. I have had more than my fill of these “old-school” minded windbags like Lou Holtz who sounds more like Donald Duck than an actual football coach, and Jesse Palmer who is known more for his looks than his ability to win football games. All of these “analysts” have given us the same obligatory comments that have crucified Yeldon after his touchdown celebration, and since fans have been listening to this mental junk food for so long, it tends to be accepted as truth. If it weren’t for the endless amount of ESPN drones that have been produced at the Bristol Connecticut assembly line, would sports fans even notice a silly touchdown celebration from a college football player?
Before ESPN had such a strangle-hold on our thoughts and beliefs about sports acumen, public displays of athlete swag were considered legendary. Old-school minded pundits who want us younger folks to believe that players never use to do these gestures “back in the day” are completely full of crap. I believe players from yesteryear did as much smack talking and gesturing as they do now. The only difference is that when a player engages in those acts in today’s arena, every single bitter ex-player and ex-coach now has a soap box with which to spew their own brand of pie-in-the-sky rhetoric. As far as I’m concerned, if the experts don’t like these elaborate touchdown celebrations, maybe they should direct their anger at the Texas A&M defense for allowing Yeldon to score in the first place.
In conclusion, I have a simple message that I would like to direct towards T.J. Yeldon: Play on playa’. I look forward to watching you in the NFL.