On Sunday afternoon football is not the only sport on Chicago Bear Willie Young’s mind. In the heat of a grueling game, Young’s mind turns to a simpler, less physically stressful form of recreation.
With every sack the 30-year-old outside linebacker makes he proceeds to simulate the motions of setting a hook and reeling in a fish. Only instead of fish, he’s reeling in quarterbacks.
Celebration after a big play has become the norm in professional football, so much so that it comes as a surprise to see a player score a touchdown and walk away sufficed by simple high fives. From the rule-breaking antics of former NFL receiver Chad Johnson to the championship belt taunt of Aaron Rodgers, it is clear that players strive to not only make big plays, but also to cast an indelible mark on the collective conscience of football fans.
Young’s particular celebration leaves a mark on the spectator, mostly because he consistently references one sport within the professional confines of another. It’s nice to see in a culture of badassery, especially on the defensive end of the field, that Young replaces muscle-flexing macho taunting with an almost humorous take on the concept of celebration.
In a video posted to Young’s YouTube account, Young attributes his love for fishing to growing up in Georgia, and then living in southern Florida. Just west of him was Lake Okeechobee, and just east was the Atlantic Ocean. He says his biggest issue was deciding each day if he wanted to fish freshwater or saltwater.
Young says the fishing reference came into play sometime in college when he and teammates would say they would go “fishing” for sacks. It wasn’t until going pro and playing with the Detroit Lions from 2010 to 2013 that the idea evolved into the celebration.
From an angler’s perspective, the most impressive part of Young’s fishing display is his apparent knowledge of the sport. He doesn’t just repeat the same hook-set and reel after each sack. He has mimicked the long swooping casts of fly fishing, sitting down over a ticking ice fishing rod, and last Sunday against the 49ers he underhand-flipped an imaginary jig as if targeting bass under docks.
With a career-high ten sacks in the 2014 season, and with the Bears switching to a 3-4 defense this season, Young switched from defensive end to outside linebacker.
If recent numbers are any sign of the possibility of future sacks, Young may eventually run out of forms of fishing to mimic in his celebrations. Whether he runs out of ideas or not, Bears fans don’t care, as long as they keep seeing some iteration of the dance.
Photo credit: Bleacher Report