Taking the Leap: 11 of the Best Signature Touchdown Celebrations in NFL History

These unique end zone dances and celebrations will make you adore your favorite NFL star even more.

A game-winning drive calls for a big celebration.
A game-winning drive calls for a big celebration. / Scott Taetsch / Stringer; Getty Images Sports Collection; Getty Images

Touchdown celebrations can make an NFL game even more fun, especially when a player from your favorite team busts out a signature move on the gridiron after they break into the end zone. From spiking the ball to taking the Lambeau Leap, the signature touchdown celebrations below have captivated fans for years.

1.  Homer Jones Delivers the First-Ever End Zone “Spike”

On October 17, 1965, New York Giants wide receiver Homer Jones celebrated a touchdown he scored against the Philadelphia Eagles by forcefully throwing the football down in the end zone. 

Jones referred to the move as a “spike,” and it was the first one ever in NFL history. It would become the quintessential touchdown celebration—with famous variations from players Elmo Wright, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, Rob Gronkowski, and others—for decades to come.

But ultimately, Jones didn’t like what the end zone spike turned into in the NFL. He came to see it as the genesis of touchdown celebrations altogether, which he disapproved of. “It caused so many things—obscene things and confusing things,” he told The New York Times in 2012. “I wish I hadn’t started it.”

2. Cam Newton Soars With the “Superman”

Cam Newton is mostly known for his time as the dynamic quarterback for the Carolina Panthers. He’s so thrilling to watch that fans dubbed him “Superman” (or “SuperCam”) on account of his superhero-like feats and his ability to leap into the end zone.

In fact, after scoring a touchdown, Newton usually celebrates by mimicking Clark Kent ripping open his shirt to reveal that he’s Superman. “It’s coming off the notion of everybody sees the superhero in how I play,” Newton told the Associated Press in 2016 (via SB Nation). “I’ve gotten the nickname Superman, SuperCam ever since I can remember.”

3. It’s “Prime Time” for Deion Sanders

Although he played on the defensive side of the football, former Atlanta Falcons player Deion Sanders returned so many interceptions for touchdowns that he’d high-step into the end zone and do the “Prime Time” dance to celebrate.

According to The Huffington Post, Sanders drew inspiration from M.C. Hammer’s music video for the song “Good To Go.” He held the football in one hand and did his own version of the two-step, as he hopped back and forth from right to left.

4. Ryan Tannehill “Finger-Rolls” the Football

After he joined the Tennessee Titans in 2019, quarterback Ryan Tannehill created a new tradition of his own. Upon scoring a touchdown, he leaps into the air like Michael Jordan and finger-rolls the football in the end zone. Titans fans have since referred to it as “The Tanneroll.”

“I don’t remember what game it started,” Tannehill said in an interview with ESPN. “It was a home game. I was running to the left and it was wide open. I just did it. I don’t know. It wasn’t something I had thought about beforehand or anything like that. It kind of just caught on and kept it rolling.”

5. Jaylen Waddle “Waddles” His Way to Victory

Jaylen Waddle during New York Jets v Miami Dolphins
Waddle strikes a pose during a game against the New York Jets. / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Whenever Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle scores a touchdown, he celebrates by spinning the football in the end zone and waddling in a circle, just like a penguin. Maybe it’s not the most intimidating celebration, but it sure is cute and fun.

6. Victor Cruz Salsa Dances Into the End Zone

Former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz commemorated nearly every touchdown he scored with a quick salsa dance in the end zone. Cruz, who is of Puerto Rican descent, danced to honor his grandmother.

“My grandmother used to love to watch me dance as a boy. She taught me how to dance,” Cruz told The New York Daily News in 2012.

7. Aaron Rodgers Earns the Championship Belt

Aaron Rodgers in Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers
Rodgers knows how to get a "pop" from the crowd. / Kayla Wolf/GettyImages

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a big pro wrestling fan. In fact, after scoring a rushing touchdown, he usually mimics wearing an imaginary championship belt around his waist. This is a celebration—and taunt—that pro wrestlers like Triple H would do often in the ring.

In addition, Rodgers received a replica of the WWE world championship belt as the Green Bay Packers, his former team, were headed into Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011.

8. Jamal Anderson Does the “Dirty Bird”

During the 1998-1999 NFL season, Atlanta Falcons running back Jamal Anderson started doing the “Dirty Bird” after scoring a touchdown. During the dance, he’d spread his arms like a pair of wings and flap them wildly in celebration. Fans took to it, as did other players on the team, leading to the nickname the “Dirty Birds,” which has since become part of the team’s identity.

“There was a guy at the top, screaming down, ‘That’s them Dirty Birds! That’s them Dirty Birds,” Anderson told Rolling Stone in 2017. The former NFL star also claims folks have busted out the move in some pretty unexpected situations. “That’s the funny thing—people break out and do the Dirty Bird in the strangest places. Somebody asked me in the bathroom. I said, ‘Whoa, buddy,’” Anderson revealed back in a 1999 press conference.

9. Ickey Woods Shimmies to the “Ickey Shuffle”

Throughout his short NFL career during the late ‘80s, Cincinnati Bengals fullback Elbert “Ickey” Woods would delight crowds with his forceful rushing touchdowns, then dazzle them with his now-iconic “Ickey Shuffle.”

During the end zone dance, Woods held the football with his right hand and shuffled his feet to the right, then switched the ball to his left hand and shuffled his feet to the left. After making three hops back to the right, he finished by spiking the football straight into the ground.

Over the years, the dance found its way in pop culture. It was featured in a few Geico TV commercials and made a brief appearance on the TV show How I Met Your Mother. In fact, funk legend Bootsy Collins even wrote a song called “The Ickey Shuffle,” in honor of the former Cincinnati Bengals star.

10. Leroy Butler Takes the “Lambeau Leap”

Whenever a Green Bay Packers player scores a touchdown at Lambeau Field, they launch into the arms of the fans seated behind the end zone.

This tradition, which is known as the “Lambeau Leap,” traces its origins back to safety LeRoy Butler, who was the first to spontaneously jump into the crowd. He did it during a game against the Los Angeles Raiders on December 26, 1993, after recovering a fumble and returning it for his first-ever career touchdown.

Over the years, it not only became Butler’s signature move, but the quintessential celebration for the entire franchise. “Scoring a touchdown is exciting, but the anticipation of all those fans ready to thank you for what you have done gives you chills like nothing else,” Butler told The Sporting News in 2003.

11. Terrell Davis Bids Fans the “Mile High Salute”

Mile High Salute to you on your birthday, T.D.!

Posted by Denver Broncos on Monday, October 28, 2019

After scoring a touchdown, former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis would drop the football, stand up straight, and salute his teammates. If the Broncos were playing at home, Davis would also salute the crowd of rowdy fans.

It came to be known as the “Mile High Salute,” after Denver’s nickname as the Mile High City. It was also inspired in part by the 1997 song “No Limit Soldiers,” by the rap group TRU.

“We called ourselves ‘No Limit Soldiers,’ right,” Davis recalled in a Denver Broncos YouTube video in 2020. “The song that was out back in the days. We’d listen to that pre-game, post-game. We huddled up and we had our little chat, you know, ‘You don’t wanna go to war with a soldier, no limit true soldier, I thought I told you.’”

Master P, who was the lead rapper of TRU, later re-recorded the song and renamed it “Denver Broncos Soldiers” when the team won Super Bowl XXXII against the Green Bay Packers in 1998.