Yes, the New York Jets' season is swirling in a downward spiral of mediocrity, but they still have to play the games on their schedule. And next up is the St. Louis Rams, this coming Sunday. The Jets have an overall record of 3-9 vs. the Rams, since they first played on Nov. 15, 1970, when Al Woodall outdueled Roman Gabriel and led the Jets to a 31-20 victory. The last time the two teams met was in 2008, and the Jets won that one, too, 47-3 (Thomas Jones ran for 149 yards and scored three touchdowns). The only other time the Jets defeated the Rams came on Sept. 25, 1983, when they won, 27-24, in overtime. Richard Todd threw for 446 yards, Eric Dickerson ran for 192 yards, the Jets intercepted four passes, Pat Leahy booted a game-winning field goal -- but the game will always be remembered for the day Mark Gastineau's sack-dance antics came to a boil.
Rams right tackle Jackie Slater took umbrage at Gastineau's gyrations after sacking Vince Ferragamo, so the Hall of Famer chased the Jet around the Shea Stadium field, sparking an all-out brawl worthy of a 1970s NHL or WHA game. Thirty-seven players wound up being fined a total of $15,750, with Gastineau taking a $1,000 hit. The following season, mainly due to Gastineau and the Washington Redskins' Fun Bunch, the NFL instituted the "no-dance" rule, with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty being the punishment for any excessive celebration. Nowadays, of course, Gastineau would fit right in, with the look-at-me generation in full force, as any player that doesn't perform a self-serving, Gastineau-like dance stands out like a sore thumb.
Here are four quotes about that memorable brawl, along with one more about Gastineau's dancing in general.
5. "One lousy tackle and he puts on a big act. Why don't I dance every time I block him out?" -- Jackie Slater
4. "There were guys on our bench who might not have liked me much, but they all came out on the field. It was a good feeling to see them come out for me during the fight." -- Mark Gastineau
3. "I loved it. I almost fell down on the field laughing." -- Rams left tackle Bill Bain, who claimed one Jet called Gastineau an "ass" and told him that the Jets themselves were hoping that Gastineau would get clobbered by Slater.
2. "Some people get intimidated or they get frustrated because they're really getting beat. You know, nobody wants anybody celebrating, but the bottom line, Slater was getting beat. That's the only thing I could think of. Gastineau was just celebrating on his own, that was the thing. He didn't do anything derogatory -- that's my opinion anyway. But people were just jealous of him." -- Wesley Walker (who had eight receptions, for 135 yards, and scored two touchdowns in the game)
1. "Didn't bother me at all. I mean I look at these guys who make a regular little tackle and they're dancing around and it's disgusting. But he could back up his play. It wasn't just about the dance. He was physical; he could play." -- Wesley Walker, on Gastineau's sack dance
(Note: All quotes taken from Sports Illustrated, with the exception of Walker's, which were taken from the book Jets Underground: Wahoo, Joe Willie, and the Swingin', Swaggerin' World of Gang Green, published by Triumph Books, by an author who shall go unnamed.)