The Origins of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ : Joey Bosa's Sack Celebration

By Mike Young on October 30, 2014 at 4:10 pm
Joey Bosa  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  vs. Cincinnati

Joey Bosa is reinventing his game – and it has nothing to do with his pass-rushing technique. His new move is immediately after driving the opposing quarterback into the ground.

Celebrating a sack is nothing new to football and Bosa is no innovator in that realm. It predates the 19-year-old Buckeye lineman, as former New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau was the true entrepreneur of the "sack dance." Gastineau has inspired everything else since, even though he was penalized each time he danced, beginning in 1984. The post-sack celebration artists in today's NFL – from Clay Matthews flexing to Jared Allen's calf-wrangling and even Stephen Tulloch's discount double check torn ACL dance –  all owe Gastineau a royalty check. 

College rules are obviously more strict about celebrations. Instead of treating them like the adults they are, the NCAA expects players to be emotionless drones. They can't even display the gloves Nike specifically designed for them to show off without drawing a flag. So, Bosa has to be a little more subtle.

Eleven Warriors photographer Walt Keys captured the first known "shrug," snapped seconds after Bosa sacked Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel and celebrated a safety in the end zone. 

"[It came out of] nowhere. It just happened," Bosa said, in a media session prior to the Penn State game. "I guess a bunch of people liked it. Now I feel obliged, like I have to do it every time I get a sack."

After the game, I tweeted Keys' photo with the necessary and well-known "shruggie" emoji:

Bosa acknowledged the emoji and the original picture in a tweet the following day: 

Essentially, I helped ignite a revolution in the Buckeye Twitter-sphere. Bosa placed the emoji in his Twitter bio and countless tweets about his shrugging tendencies ensued, including one ambitious fan who carved it into a pumpkin: 

While Bosa claims a lack of inspiration behind his signature move, it's a common expression. The shrug is unheralded in everyday life but ingrained in popular culture. It's not uncommon in sports, either.

After all, one of Michael Jordan's most iconic moments is "The Shrug." In typical Jordan style, he turned towards the NBC broadcast table after hitting his sixth three-pointer before halftime – all of this in an NBA Finals game against Portland. 

It's a pop-culture phenomenon – Harrison Ford even struck the pose before Jordan did. In the internet age, it went viral because of Kanye West. M.J., Han Solo and Yeezus are elite company for Bosa to keep. 

The "shruggie" or "smugshrug" emoji has Japanese heritage and its emergence can be traced to the Starcraft video game, according to an article on The Awl. Its use on social media transcends anything Bosa is capable of on the field. 

That won't stop him from doing it and neither will Urban Meyer.

"At Maryland, apparently, I held it too long," Bosa said. "Coach Meyer got on me a little bit about how Oregon lost after an excessive celebration [penalty]. I have to flash it really quick, now."

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