Happy Anniversary Lambeau Leap
Remember when Paris Hilton and crew accidentally leaked her sex tape back in ‘04 and all of a sudden she became famous? It paved the way for people like Dustin Diamond, Kim Kardashian and even Laurence Fishburne’s daughter to leak their very own junior varsity level sex tapes and caught on like white trash wildfire on the Jersey Shore. Well, that’s kind of what happened with the Lambeau Leap. Kind of.
Today Packers fans, let me be the first to wish you Happy Anniversary on your beloved illustrious celebratory spring into the end zone. Eighteen years ago, on the third coldest day at Lambeau (only behind the 1967 duly named Ice Bowl and the 2007 NFC championship against the Giants), the inaugural Lambeau Leap took shape from none other than safety, LeRoy Butler.
“Because I had pointed, the fans knew what they had to do. I go up into the green padding … and when I’m halfway up, a guy starts pulling me up the rest of the way. Everyone right behind him grabs on. Everyone is screaming and yelling. Some are complimenting me with ‘Awesome’ or ‘Good job.’ It only lasts 2 or 3 seconds, and I’m back down. It’s an incredible feeling as I run back to the bench. Dorsey Levens and a lot of other teammates keep telling me how cool that moment was. It took off from there. Ever since, every time we make a big play, there’s the Lambeau Leap,” Butler explained in his autobiography, From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap. This perfectly timed jump, which has since been coined “the baptism of touchdown scoring Packers,” was their way to celebrate clinching the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. Cause for celebration indeed.
Since that historic day, the Lambeau Leap has become a welcome staple, or rite of passage, inside Lambeau Field, claiming the first four rows in the end zone areas. As someone who witnessed the wielding Green Bay crowd in person last month for MNF against the Vikings, there is only one thing that can make Packers fans even crazier – that is the Lambeau Leap. (Scratch that, two things, the other being Aaron Rodgers and his superman-like abilities.) Crazy attire aside, those seats and the fans in them are no joke, carrying a $450/ticket price tag just to sit in history – literally. The leap is so legendary it’s been added to popular video game celebrations like Madden over the years.
As the NFL rules get stricter and stricter each year (no tweeting, no excessive celebrations, no tackling Tim Tebow or it’ll automatically be a roughing the passer call, etc), the Lambeau Leap and all its glory has remained mostly in tact. Former NFL commish Paul Tagliabue grandfathered the celebratory act into the new rules on post-scoring celebrations. The only two stringent rules were that only one player can jump into the stands at a time, and the leap must end before the extra point is kicked. Everything else (so far) is fair game.
So You Think You Can Leap? Here’s a simple how-to on mastering the gravity-defying leap:
1. Get a running start directly from the end zone, do not pass go. There is no time for an end zone dance; the only thing that matters is one successful leap into the fans. That is your end zone dance.
2. Look directly at the crazed fans in the first four rows of the end zone. You will need them for support (in more ways than one, depending on your ups).
3. Aim for the lowest dip in the wall at the base of the end zone. I know you show-boaters will want to aim high, but as a rookie leaper, let’s start small and work our way up. Deal?
4. Also when it comes to aiming – aim for fans dressed in green and gold. An actual cheesehead is a plus. This’ll only make your leap that much more picture-worthy – it may even end up on SportsCenter – or better yet, Facebook!
5. Leap into the air in an outward and upward motion, facing the fans. If you’re of veteran status, you can try to turn mid-air and sit on the wall for additional style points. As with any elite athletic maneuver, know your move before hand and commit to it.
6. If done correctly, you’ll spill at least two beers (the fans won’t care at all), get at least 10 helmet taps and 12 ass grabs. If you look or play like Aaron Rodgers, multiply those numbers by seven.
7. Don’t stay in leap position for an extended period of time – your leap must be completed before the extra point is kicked.
This may sound easy, especially for an athlete, but I can assure you it’s no easy feat. Packer legend, Donald Driver had a failed and trite attempt at his first go-round with the leap. Many players, Driver included, admitted to watching film of former WR Robert Brooks perfecting the full body launch into a sea of green. If only Vikings cornerback Fred Smoot had dutifully watched video, he would have thought better of trying to mimic the move.
It took Brett Favre 15 seasons to even attempt his first leap. Apparently, at some point even he was camera shy. My how things have changed. But not Aaron Rodgers. He claims he’d waited with baited breath for years as Favre’s backup to do his very own Lambeau Leap, which he did his very first game as a starter after he scored a game-winning TD on a perfect quarterback sneak.
LeRoy Butler was later inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in ’07, but whether it was for his role in 181 games in a Packers uniform, or performing the inaugural Leap which created a sensational tradition in the wide world of sports, that’s for you to judge. Note, Butler was also the first defensive back in NFL history to gain entrance into the 20 sack | 20 interception club, so perhaps he was inducted for multiple reasons.
So Packers fans, as you celebrate last night’s savage beating on the Chicago Bears and today’s Lambeau Leap Anniversary, I ask you to find a designated driver, because as someone born in Wisconsin, I know exactly how your kind celebrates. I also encourage you to continue making this leap famous, and stay away from starring in your own sex tapes. #GoPackGo