Up 17-10 in the second quarter, the Alabama Crimson Tide needed a spark to pull away from the South Carolina Gamecocks. Facing 4th-and-3, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian put the ball in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s capable left hand to make a play. The Heisman Trophy hopeful connected with running back Najee Harris coming out of the backfield, who put on an all-time highlight reel gallop.
One powerful stiff arm. Hurdling clean over a helpless defender. Dropping South Carolina defender Ernest Jones like a bad habit. Harris raced into the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown, his second of the game. But then, many people completely forgot about the play when they saw Harris’ all-too-familiar celebration.
Harris extended both arms to the sky — slightly tilted to one side — soaking in his emphatic touchdown. After the game, the 230-pound running back confirmed that his celebration was an ode to U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe’s iconic celebration.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Harris said. “Shout out to her.”
The celebration was popularized by Rapinoe at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France earlier this summer. Rapinoe was named the tournament’s best player, but it was her political banter and off-the-field rebuttals to President Donald Trump that overshadowed her play.
Not only did Rapinoe refuse to sing the national anthem in protest of the Trump administration, she refused to accept a White House invitation before the tournament was even over. Needless to say, the team lost quite a few fans back home.
That’s why Harris’ celebration on Saturday, and the ode to Rapinoe, received mixed reactions on social media. Some were overwhelming positive. Others, well, not so much.
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Alabama’s Najee Harris and his celebration made an emphatic statement. A major college football star honoring a female athlete who was maligned and criticized at every turn is HUGE. I don’t care how you dice this one, props to Harris for at least acknowledging the connection to Rapinoe, whether this was his intended consequence or not.
For the record, head coach Nick Saban and company rolled over Will Muschamp’s team at Williams-Brice Stadium, 47-23.