Millennials live in a golden age of nostalgia. After our entire conscious lifetimes were spent standing idly by as boomers were pandered to with things from their childhood, finally it is our turn to be pandered to! The music we liked is sampled and aped. The fashion is back in. Entire media conglomerates exist and thrive by pointing to a thing we remember and saying “remember this?”
One entirely unexpected but wholly welcome wave of nostalgia has been NFL players’ reenactments of famous celebrations from their own childhoods. Michael Thomas whipping out a cell phone—a flip phone, even!—in homage to Joe Horn was delightful. And last night, in Tennessee’s 28-14 win over the Cowboys, Titans safety Kevin Byard celebrated an interception by sprinting to midfield and posting on the star … just like Terrell Owens did 18 years ago.
Yes, Byard said he conceived this before the game, given the setting and the national broadcast. “It was just something I thought about at the hotel, just thinking about Monday night in Dallas.” (Only millennials will remember when Monday Night Football was the biggest game of the week!) He just hoped he’d make a play big enough to warrant it, and I’d say that picking off Dak Prescott in the end zone qualifies.
Byard actually planned something even bigger, involving his teammates, though he knew that realistically he wouldn’t get enough time to pull it off.
“I just ran to the star to celebrate,” Byard said. “I was actually expecting somebody to knock my head off. Then we just started dancing. I was like, if we get to the 50, if we get enough guys to the 50, we are just going to start dancing on the star.”
Cowboys corner Byron Jones didn’t quite knock Byard’s head off, but he did give him a shove to end his Riverdance routine. It was downright gentle compared to the boom George Teague lowered on Terrell Owens so many years ago. Owens, unsurprisingly, loved Byard’s tribute.
It’s worth revisiting that 2000 game, because it really was something. Owens went to the star twice, sandwiched around an emphatic Emmitt Smith spiking the ball on the star after his own touchdown as a response to Owens. It was after the second one that a brawl nearly broke out. The 49ers actually fined and suspended Owens a week for it.
Given the intensity of the moment and the rivalry between the teams, that was definitely one of the coolest things ever to happen in NFL history. Or maybe that’s just nostalgia talking.