Ask Farmer: How much time do players spend planning touchdown celebrations?

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrates with teammates after catching a 26-yard touchdown pass during the first half against the Green Bay Packers.
(Bruce Kluckhohn / Associated Press)

Have a question about the NFL? Ask Times NFL writer Sam Farmer, and he will answer as many as he can online and in the Sunday editions of the newspaper throughout the season. Email questions to:

What’s with all the group celebrations? It used to be that after you scored, you wanted to act like you’ve been there before. Now, it’s a show. How much time do these guys spend planning what they’re going to do in the end zone?

Chuck Moore



Farmer: You didn’t like the Minnesota limbo? The Vikings did that last Sunday after Dalvin Cook scored, with a few massive players holding up receiver Adam Thielen like a limbo bar, and Cook shimmying underneath him. That required some planning, and maybe even some practice, even if it wasn’t really original. The CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks performed the same celebration last year after scoring in the Grey Cup conference semifinals.

But yes, players don’t spend every free moment studying tape. They carve out time for choreography, seeing as the NFL before the 2017 season lifted the ban on group celebrations. For instance, after an interception or a defensive score, Chargers defenders quickly gather in the back of the end zone to pose for a group photo. That’s now commonplace around the NFL.

I asked Chargers rookie Derwin James about how the end-zone party is planned.

“Usually it’s Rayshawn [Jenkins] or Jahleel [Addae],” he said, referring to two fellow safeties. “We’ll talk about it at practice. They’ll come up with a dance or a theme. We’ll just use it for that weekend and go for it.”

James said opposing offensive players usually aren’t offended but are more mad at themselves for making the mistake.

“You’ve got to play this game with passion,” he said. “You’ve got to be happy when your teammate makes a play, so I feel like those type of plays are what you live for, those moments celebrating with your teammates, your brothers.”

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler strums his air guitar in the end zone after scoring a touchdown on a 44-yard screen pass from Philip Rivers.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has a different way to celebrate big moments. He breaks out the air guitar. He said it’s from his college days at Western Colorado, listening to classic rock in Gunnison.

“It’s a little mountain town,” he said. “Classic rock from the ’70s and ’80s. So I just developed a relationship with it there. Then I thought, maybe I’ll play the guitar as a celebration. Just messing around with my college roommates and it actually happened in a game.

“I just stuck with it. I was like, ‘I’m just going to have my signature thing.’ So people have something to know me from.”

Then, a sheepish confession: He doesn’t know a lick of guitar.

“I want to learn,” he said. “People ask me that all the time, so it’s definitely something I want to learn in the offseason.”