The Quick 10: 10 Touchdown Celebrations

I told Jason English the other day that my husband may be sending him flowers (or a six-pack; I guess that's probably more likely). Because of Jason's brilliant idea to have a mental_floss Fantasy Football league, I've been willing "“ nay, I've been wanting - to watch football lately. And not just for the touchdown dances, which were previously my main reasons for enjoying the sport. But I still like a good celebration. Here are some of my favorites:

1. The Ickey Shuffle might be the most famous touchdown celebration ever; the NFL even allowed Elbert "Ickey" Woods to do it without penalty in the late "˜80s (let's see T.O. get away with that). Check out the Ickey Shuffle in this little montage of dances "“ if you don't want to wait through the whole thing, he's #4 at about 1:30.

2. The Lambeau Leap is a celebration the whole team gets into. It doesn't happen every time, but sometimes when a Packer gets a touchdown at Lambeau Field, he runs and leaps into the end zone stands. Other teams have started to adopt this celebration as well, but it started in Wisconsin. Sometimes an opposing player tries to get some love at Lambeau and more often than not gets shut down "“ that very thing happened to Viking Fred Smoot in 2007. But Chad Ochocinco managed to pull it off just a week ago by planting a couple of Bengals fans in the end zone seats ahead of time. Sneaky. Here's Donald Lee doing the Lambeau Leap last season:

3. Speaking of Ochocinco, he rivals T.O. when it comes to ridiculous (and expensive) TD celebrations. He has "proposed" to a cheerleader, he has putted the football in homage to Tiger Woods, he has whipped out pre-made signs"¦ but my favorite is when he Riverdances. You can see most of these (and lots more) in this video:

4. Steve Smith was on the same college football team (Santa Monica College) as Ochocinco, so is it any surprise that they both share a love of celebrating their hard-earned six points? Like Ochocino, he has quite a few celebrations under his belt, but I like when he turned the ball into a baby, burping it and wiping its butt.

HOWARD5. Even NCAA football has the occasional celebration, but this one is probably the most famous: the Heisman pose. In 1991, Desmond Howard was one of the frontrunners in the Heisman race and he wasn't above campaigning. When he scored a touchdown against Ohio State that year, he took a little time in the end zone to pose just like the famous trophy. It must have worked, because he was awarded the real thing just a few months later and has been immortalized on the cover of NCAA football '06 striking the pose.
6. If you watched the whole clip Ickey Woods was featured in above, then you also got a glimpse of Billy "White Shoes" Johnson (#3 in the video). His chicken dance is legendary in the NFL. And you have to admit, he really committed to it.

7. The CFL (Canadian Football League) is a lot more lenient about touchdown celebrations than the NFL is, and CFLers take full advantage of that. After scoring on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last year, Terrence Edwards of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers arranges his teammates in a (not-so) impromptu game of Duck, Duck, Goose.

welker8. Wes Welker of the Patriots saw a fun opportunity after getting the six points last December "“ it had been snowing long enough to leave a dusting on the field, and the almost-pristine end zone was just crying out for a snow angel. So he gave it one. I thought it was pretty cute, but the NFL had just passed a rule banning players from going down to the ground for celebrations, so Welker was fined.

9. Kelley Washington, currently with the Ravens, is known for his bizarre touchdown dance named The Squirrel. If you didn't watch the whole Ickey video, you should do it now (Washington is the first one) "“ the Squirrel is like the cousin to Elaine Benes' flailing thumb dance. If you already watched the Ickey video but can't get enough of the Squirrel, here's another clip:

10. Finally, T.O. No post about touchdown celebrations would be complete without one of T.O.'s controversial antics. I personally really like one of the antics that actually ended up benefiting someone else: the time he got a touchdown against Tampa Bay on Thanksgiving Day and dropped the ball into a big Salvation Army kettle, donating it to them. "That was my donation," he later said. "I hope it's worth as much as the fine."

Do you have a favorite touchdown celebration? Or do you think they're ridiculous and an embarrassment to the league?

Begins and Ends: European Cities
Penn Vet Working Dog Center
Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
New Program Trains Dogs to Sniff Out Art Smugglers
Penn Vet Working Dog Center
Penn Vet Working Dog Center

Soon, the dogs you see sniffing out contraband at airports may not be searching for drugs or smuggled Spanish ham. They might be looking for stolen treasures.

K-9 Artifact Finders, a new collaboration between New Hampshire-based cultural heritage law firm Red Arch and the University of Pennsylvania, is training dogs to root out stolen antiquities looted from archaeological sites and museums. The dogs would be stopping them at borders before the items can be sold elsewhere on the black market.

The illegal antiquities trade nets more than $3 billion per year around the world, and trafficking hits countries dealing with ongoing conflict, like Syria and Iraq today, particularly hard. By one estimate, around half a million artifacts were stolen from museums and archaeological sites throughout Iraq between 2003 and 2005 alone. (Famously, the craft-supply chain Hobby Lobby was fined $3 million in 2017 for buying thousands of ancient artifacts looted from Iraq.) In Syria, the Islamic State has been known to loot and sell ancient artifacts including statues, jewelry, and art to fund its operations.

But the problem spans across the world. Between 2007 and 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Control discovered more than 7800 cultural artifacts in the U.S. looted from 30 different countries.

A yellow Lab sniffs a metal cage designed to train dogs on scent detection.
Penn Vet Working Dog Center

K-9 Artifact Finders is the brainchild of Rick St. Hilaire, the executive director of Red Arch. His non-profit firm researches cultural heritage property law and preservation policy, including studying archaeological site looting and antiquities trafficking. Back in 2015, St. Hilaire was reading an article about a working dog trained to sniff out electronics that was able to find USB drives, SD cards, and other data storage devices. He wondered, if dogs could be trained to identify the scents of inorganic materials that make up electronics, could they be trained to sniff out ancient pottery?

To find out, St. Hilaire tells Mental Floss, he contacted the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, a research and training center for detection dogs. In December 2017, Red Arch, the Working Dog Center, and the Penn Museum (which is providing the artifacts to train the dogs) launched K-9 Artifact Finders, and in late January 2018, the five dogs selected for the project began their training, starting with learning the distinct smell of ancient pottery.

“Our theory is, it is a porous material that’s going to have a lot more odor than, say, a metal,” says Cindy Otto, the executive director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center and the project’s principal investigator.

As you might imagine, museum curators may not be keen on exposing fragile ancient materials to four Labrador retrievers and a German shepherd, and the Working Dog Center didn’t want to take any risks with the Penn Museum’s priceless artifacts. So instead of letting the dogs have free rein to sniff the materials themselves, the project is using cotton balls. The researchers seal the artifacts (broken shards of Syrian pottery) in airtight bags with a cotton ball for 72 hours, then ask the dogs to find the cotton balls in the lab. They’re being trained to disregard the smell of the cotton ball itself, the smell of the bag it was stored in, and ideally, the smell of modern-day pottery, eventually being able to zero in on the smell that distinguishes ancient pottery specifically.

A dog looks out over the metal "pinhweel" training mechanism.
Penn Vet Working Dog Center

“The dogs are responding well,” Otto tells Mental Floss, explaining that the training program is at the stage of "exposing them to the odor and having them recognize it.”

The dogs involved in the project were chosen for their calm-but-curious demeanors and sensitive noses (one also works as a drug-detection dog when she’s not training on pottery). They had to be motivated enough to want to hunt down the cotton balls, but not aggressive or easily distracted.

Right now, the dogs train three days a week, and will continue to work on their pottery-detection skills for the first stage of the project, which the researchers expect will last for the next nine months. Depending on how the first phase of the training goes, the researchers hope to be able to then take the dogs out into the field to see if they can find the odor of ancient pottery in real-life situations, like in suitcases, rather than in a laboratory setting. Eventually, they also hope to train the dogs on other types of objects, and perhaps even pinpoint the chemical signatures that make artifacts smell distinct.

Pottery-sniffing dogs won’t be showing up at airport customs or on shipping docks soon, but one day, they could be as common as drug-sniffing canines. If dogs can detect low blood sugar or find a tiny USB drive hidden in a house, surely they can figure out if you’re smuggling a sculpture made thousands of years ago in your suitcase.


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