Ranking the worst sports celebration fails of all time

DeSean Jackson's infamous ball drop ranks as one of the worst celebration fails in sports history
USA Today Sports

Evan McPherson had a moment the sports world will never forget on Sunday.

The Cincinnati Bengals kicker started celebrating his potential game-winning 49-yard field goal attempt that looked to be good, only for the ball to hit the flag on the outside of the left upright.

The moment, while awfully painful for McPherson and his team in an eventual loss to the Green Bay Packers, was just another example of a celebration gone wrong in sports. While celebrations are one of the greatest aspects of sports, celebration fails are often more memorable.

Here are 10 of the biggest celebration fails in sports history.

10. Giancarlo Stanton fools Yankees announcer John Sterling on non-HR

Giancarlo Stanton fooled everyone at Fenway Park during the 2021 AL Wild Card Game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Stanton blasted a Nathan Eovaldi pitch to deep left field and took his time leaving the batter's box, thinking it was a home run. Stanton's reaction appeared to fool legendary Yankees radio play-by-play announcer John Sterling as well.

"It is ... gone! Out of the ballpark! A Stantonian home run!" Sterling said on the broadcast as the ball bounced off the Green Monster and Stanton ended up at first base instead of home plate.

"Now, what did I do wrong? What did I see wrong? He's at first base," Sterling said. 

The play was a funny moment in a rather disappointing game for the Yankees, who ended up getting bounced from the playoffs in a 6-2 loss.


9. Tom Cable, Raiders think Janikowski wins it

McPherson wasn't the only kicker to fool his team. Back in 2010, the Oakland Raiders were just a 32-yard field goal away from beating the Arizona Cardinals.

It was supposed to be a chip shot for Sebastian Janikowski, who had made 90 percent of his attempts from 30-39 yards up to that point.

As soon as the kick went up, Raiders coach Tom Cable and some of his players started celebrating, almost positive that it was good, before the kick sailed wide left.

8. Kendrys Morales injures himself celebrating grand slam

Hitting a walk-off grand slam is one of the best feelings in baseball, but injuring yourself in the process has got to hurt.

Kendrys Morales was filled with joy after hitting a grand slam to lift the Los Angeles Angels over the Seattle Mariners in May 2010. But Morales broke his leg while jumping onto home plate to celebrate.

Morales' injury even forced the team to change the way they celebrated walk-offs.

7. DeSean Jackson drops football before reaching end zone

DeSean Jackson is no stranger to showboating before scoring a touchdown. The 14-year pro has had plenty of hilarious moments on the football field while celebrating, but none as memorable as when he dropped the ball before crossing the goal line against the Dallas Cowboys during his 2008 rookie season.

It was initially ruled a touchdown, but after Dallas challenged it, the call was reversed and the ball was placed on the 1-yard line. Luckily for Jackson and the Philadelphia Eagles, Brian Westbrook scored on the next play.

Believe it or not, that wasn't the only time Jackson dropped the football too early. At the 2005 Army All-American Game, he flipped into the end zone but forgot to bring the ball with him.

6. T.O. gets lit up while celebrating TD

You can't have a list of crazy celebrations without mentioning Terrell Owens. One of Owens' most memorable celebrations came while he was with the San Francisco 49ers.

After scoring an early touchdown in Dallas, Owens decided to celebrate on the star logo at midfield. Owens' celebration led Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith to do the same thing after a rushing touchdown.

Owens then scored another touchdown and proceeded to run toward the star again, but this time he was met by Dallas safety George Teague, who crushed the wide receiver.

5. Leon Lett's Super Bowl fumble

Leon Lett delivered one of the funniest moments in NFL history in the Cowboys' 52-17 blowout of the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII.

With the game well in hand for Dallas in the fourth quarter, Lett picked up a fumble at Buffalo's 45-yard line, and it looked like there was no one in sight as he ran toward the end zone.


The Cowboys lineman decided to showboat by sticking the ball out, but Bills receiver Don Beebe stripped it away from Lett before he could score and forced a touchback.

The score would have given Dallas a Super Bowl record for points, but the Cowboys still got the last laugh as they hoisted their first Lombardi Trophy in over 15 years.

4. Nick Young celebrates 3-pointer that doesn't go in

Nick Young gave the world a celebration to remember after attempting a 3-pointer during the  Los Angeles Lakers blowout victory over the New York Knicks in 2014. 

Young, confident that the shot would go in, turned his back to the basket once the ball left his hands. He raised his arms with three fingers extended only to stand in disbelief once he realized the shot had ricocheted off the rim.

Young's shot went viral for all the wrong reasons and remains a popular GIF on social media. Nevertheless, NBA superstars like Stephen Curry and LeBron James have still attempted the no-look celebration and have even succeeded at doing what Young couldn't.

3. Gus Frerotte sprains neck after slamming head into wall

Washington quarterback Gus Frerotte is probably known more for his celebration fail than anything else he did in his career.

During a game against the New York Giants in 1997, Frerotte decided to headbutt a cement wall after scoring a touchdown and sprained his neck. He was forced to leave the game early and head to the hospital.

The game ended in a 7-7 tie, and Frerotte was only left to wonder 'what if.'

2.  Bill Gramatica tears ACL after 1st-quarter FG

In a 2001 game against the Giants, Cardinals kicker Bill Gramatica jumped in the air to celebrate a 42-yard field goal make and tore his ACL in the process.

Gramatica's injury sidelined him for the ensuing kickoff and safety Pat Tillman was thrust into kicking duties for the rest of the game.

Perhaps the strangest part of the celebration was that it wasn't even a game-winning or go-ahead score. It happened in the first quarter, leaving many wondering why Gramatica decided to act that way.

1. Cal beats Stanford as band blocks field

On Nov. 20, 1982, the Cal Berkeley Bears pulled off an improbable last-second victory over Stanford, completing five lateral passes around the Cardinal marching band.

The band, which had wandered onto the field to celebrate the upset they thought their team had secured, instead were shocked as Cal's Kevin Moen weaved his way through the horn section of the band to reach the end zone. Moen then slammed into a trombone player after scoring.


The game ranks one of the best endings in college football history.