Warning: The following article is rife with pictures, .gifs, and embedded Tweets that may make mobile devices run a little more slowly.
After Saturday’s upset win against Florida State, the Tar Heels are no longer, as Ryan Switzer once put it, being slept on. The AP and Coaches Polls now both have the Heels in the top 20. Switzer himself has now earned ACC Receiver of the Week honors twice in a row. Mitch Trubisky’s name is finding itself on Heisman watch lists from bookmakers and sportswriters alike.
It’s not just about football, though: the Heels are finally starting to get credit for their exuberant, sometimes wonderfully shady celebrations.
(Writer’s note: For those not in the know, "shade" is millenial slang for casual disrespect. The adjective is "shady" and the verb form is "throwing shade," because millenial slang makes no sense.)
Let’s take a look at a few:
This all really started with last year’s Miami game. After running it in for UNC’s first score, Marquise Williams let Miami know who was in charge:
...I mean, there’s not much to add to it. Williams takes the Miami "U" and lets the fans know where he thinks it belongs. Utterly disdainful. It’s a little too explicit to be called truly shady, however.
Shade Rating: Translucent Parasol (5.5/10)
But that’s not all! Football is a team sport, after all, and after running in a punt return for another touchdown, Ryan Switzer showed that he was in on the act, as well:
Heels up 31-0 just keep flipping the U down on Miami. pic.twitter.com/en7qaqiXTF— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) November 14, 2015
Ahhh, much better. Instead of involving his anatomy, Switzer uses a much subtler "you’re going down" motif. The message is similar to Williams’, but much less overt. It’s much quicker as well. I do dock points for the rehearsed feel to this, though.
Shade Rating: Particularly Large Sombrero (8/10)
Some time last year, T.J. Logan started scoring. And he had a celebration ready, courtesy of NFL wide receiver Dez Bryant. While there is no information on the Internet linking the two (Logan’s favorite team is the Raiders, per GoHeels.com), the influence is undeniable:
Logan pays homage to one of the better players in the NFL with a well-known celebration. It looks cool, it’s recognizable, and it’s done fiercely. It’s a sign of respect, like the dab last year. No shade here.
Shade Rating: July in Chapel Hill (0/10)
This past Sunday, however, Logan prepared for the occasion of playing in Florida by preparing a new celebration, and the origins of this one are neither as obvious nor as innocent as his prior:
This is a reference to the hip-hop artist Kodak Black, who was recently arrested in Florida on multiple charges. Because this arrest delayed the release of Kodak’s next album, many of his fans, probably at least semi-ironically, started using the hashtag #FreeKodak to, among other things, indicate their displeasure with all things Florida. Logan was definitely part of this, as seen on his Twitter account the week of the FSU game:
Back to the act itself, though: A reference is a lot like a joke. If it needs to be explained, it’s probably not all that effective. Logan’s gesture and intent were clear to those in the know, but far too vague outside of that demographic to have much impact.
Shade Rating: Blue Baseball Cap (4/10)
And here’s the big one. I don’t think it needs introduction:
Kicker Nick Weiler, having just kicked a career-long game-winning field goal, outruns his entire team doing the Tomahawk chop across the Florida State field. It’s obvious, exuberant, disrespectful, and glorious. This is essentially what we all (well, me anyways) felt like in that moment, and Weiler beautifully brings it to the screen. Its lack of subtlety should cost it points, but the spontaneity, joy, and iconicity of this moment easily bring it back up. Instant classic.
Shade Rating: Under a Palm Tree at the Beach (10/10)
There are plenty of celebrations yet to mock and squads to shade as the Heels attempt to conquer the remaining teams on their schedule. What do you think will be next? What do you want to see?