Check the Tape: Jared Allen reveals what makes a great sack celebration and grades some recent efforts

One thing you can’t miss if you watch as much football as I do is how much fun guys seem to be having these days.

Since the NFL relaxed its celebration rules, players have been going crazy after big plays and touchdowns. Choreographed dances, custom sack celebrations — the works.

And the game is better for it, especially with no fans in attendance this season due to COVID-19. One of my first columns for Yahoo was about how the league needed to loosen up and let players’ personalities show, and the reason I felt that way is because my football fanhood blossomed during a time when I looked forward to, for examples, Deion Sanders’ Prime Time shuffle or Vai Sikahema punching the goal post after a return touchdown.

So in our last edition of the original Yahoo Sports web series “Check the Tape” before the playoffs, I thought it would be a blast to catch up with Chiefs and Vikings legend Jared Allen and break down an area that’s near and dear to my heart — the art of the sack celebration.

(Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
(Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

Allen, 38, racked up 136 career sacks, 12th on the all-time list. He will be going into the Hall of Fame one day; in fact, he’s one of 25 semifinalists for the 2021 class. Even more than the sacks or pressures, I’ll remember his “calf-roping” sack celebration, which was Hall-of-Fame caliber, too.

Every time he hauled a quarterback to the ground, he’d take a few steps toward the end zone, drop to one knee, whirl his hands around in a hog-tying motion, and extend his arms outward before rising to his feet, as if to say “ta-da!” It was one of the coolest, most original sack celebrations, and as such, I not only made sure to ask Jared his tips for a good sack celebration, I also picked out the best six or so sacks from Week 15, showed them to Allen and let him judge them on a scale of 1-10.

We had a great time doing it, so make sure you watch the video, and yeah, he was kind of a tough grader. His point is that almost any sack celebration can work as long as you’re playing your tail off and fans can see that passion. That’s what matters most.

“I firmly believe that if people are going to spend their hard-earned money to watch me play, they better believe and see the fun I’m having,” Allen said.

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