Don't Kill The Mellinger

Sam Mellinger’s favorite NFL sack dances, with GIFs

The Star’s annual football preview is focused on pass rushers, so I decided to pick my favorite sack dances.


Clay Matthews, Packers: Most times, Matthews opts for a sort of Incredible Hulk pose, which is strong for three reasons: He has the physique to pull it off, it’s the natural reaction most of us imagine having if we ever made a sack, and it’s always a nice touch to turn into a cartoon superhero.


Stewart Bradley, Cardinals: Appreciation of this one may depend on your demographic, but for fans of a certain age, Bradley busting out the Carlton Dance from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” is an unassailable success.


Barry Cofield, Washington: The don’t-taze-me-bro dance is such a part of him that a story about him on his team’s website claimed “Cofield brings electricity to (Washington’s) D-Line.”


Von Miller, Broncos: The Broncos’ best pass rusher is sort of a bachelor of sack dances — he’s not ready to commit to just one yet. But his bachelordom is Jeterian — the funky chicken after getting Ben Roethlisberger, an exaggerated Superman on Cam Newton, the “Nae Nae” on Matt Ryan.


Jared Allen, Bears: If we can be honest, Allen looks awkward at best when he ropes the calf after a sack. But, you know, that’s basically the point. Allen is unapologetically himself, which you probably knew from the mullet and occasional racin’ stripes in his hair. Points for self-expression.


Michael Bennett, Seahawks: This is basically Ravishing Rick Rude’s hip sway from the 1980s WWF, which has been done by many of his peers. But none of them ever had Bennett’s way with words: “I would describe it as two angels dancing while chocolate is coming from the heavens on a nice Sunday morning.” Earl Thomas says he won’t let his daughter watch it. Richard Sherman — Richard Sherman! — says he’s speechless.


J.J. Watt, Texans: Instead of self-congratulations, Watt tends to use his moment after a sack to shine on someone else, perhaps most noticeably a sack celebration that honored paralyzed orphans in 2012, or one that recognized the late Bum Phillips at Arrowhead last season. Of course, he can also do funny: You might remember his swim-and-surf in the Pro Bowl.

Mark Gastineau, Jets: Judged strictly on performance, Gastineau’s dance after sacking the Raiders’ Jim Plunkett in the 1982 AFC playoffs was more like a full body spasm, or the reaction of a 5-year-old who just found out he gets extra dessert, than an adult man’s sack dance. But context matters. The best sack dance is the first sack dance, because it inspired everything else on this list. Bonus points for being so ahead of his time that the NFL outlawed the dance, making it a 15-yard penalty.

To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365 or send email to Follow him on Twitter: @mellinger. For previous columns, go to

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