The “Dirty Bird” is the celebratory touchdown dance popularized by Atlanta Falcons running back Jamal Anderson. Anderson introduced the dance during the Falcons’ Super Bowl run in 1998.
The dance was quickly adopted by other players and fans.
"It's ‘The Dirty Bird,’” Falcons tight end O.J. Santiago explained to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after a win against the New England Patriots in 1998. “I got to give credit to Jamal for creating the dance, but I came up with the name. You raise the roof first [with palms facing the sky], cock your wings [with thumbs in armpits], and then start flapping 'em.”
Atlanta Falcons touchdown dance: How to do the Dirty Bird
This step-by-step guide was originally published in The Atlanta Constitution on November 16, 1998
- Hop to right with elbows raised.
- Hop to left, jerk right elbow down, as if pulling on something.
- Hop to right, extend right elbow away from the body.
- Hop to left, jerk left elbow down, as if pulling on something.
- Hop to right, extend left elbow away from the body.
- Flap arms like a bird, and continue to hop back and forth.
The Atlanta Constitution, now The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, also published a helpful graphic before the Falcons’ first Super Bowl appearance in 1999:
Still not catching on? Here’s a video:
The name of the end zone dance also became a nickname for the team itself.
For Anderson, the invention of the Dirty Bird was more than just a celebratory dance. It was a way to seize the limelight and capitalize on the team’s success.
“I was almost always thinking about the organization,” Anderson said in 2002, before he was released from the Falcons. “That's why in ['98], I made up the Dirty Bird. We were going on national TV, and I thought we had a good team nobody was noticing.”
The Falcons will be in the spotlight again for their second Super Bowl appearance in the franchise history next month. The Falcons will face the Patriots Sunday, Feb. 5 in Houston.