(A quick JMMA note before we begin: current James Mungro Memorial Award presented by (sponsor pending) winner Jose Alvarez is likely to start the second game of the Tigers’ Friday double-header with Kansas City. Game time is 7:05 ET. This is appointment television.)
Stephen Tulloch’s might have had the greatest performance in the history of the NFL preseaso, and it went unnoticed.
He only played 13 snaps on Friday, but I’m not talking about anything Tulloch did on the field. That’s not what the preseason is about. It’s about the starters to acting like the varsity that is forced to watch the JV and freshman game. They’re the cool kids. They’re work won’t come until later, when the fans actually show up. Before then, they get to sit around, chat, maybe get a hot dog from the concession stand. Then, when something happens, they get to cheer uncontrollably for either their literal or metaphorical little brothers.
Tulloch’s sideline cheering was unmatched. It started while he was still in the game. On Ziggy Ansah’s interception return for a touchdown, Tulloch did the traditional “Pile on the guy that made the play” move, but pulled off earlier than any of his teammates. He then faced the crowd and, in blatant steal of glory, give a fist pump to the crowd.
Later in the first quarter, Calvin Johnson had a 28-yard reception. Tulloch responded by taking both gloves in one hand and giving an “I challenge you to a duel” butt slap.
In the third quarter, linebacker Jon Morgan, still a JMMA nominee, made his one good play of the game, chasing down a running back in the flat. Tulloch jumped off the sideline and gave Morgan a butts slap that the upper deck could hear from their seats.
In the fourth, Kris Durham made a catch and was accosted by two Jets as the whole pile slid into the Lions sideline. Tulloch pushed the Jets off of Durham, dragged the receiver to his feet, then smacked him in the face. Hard. Right under the facemask. Skin to skin.
But the Durham pimp slap wasn’t even Tulloch’s masterpiece moment. That came about with about 10 minutes left when Jets receiver Zach Rogers got behind the Lions secondary. Rogers streaked down the sideline right next to the Lions bench. Greg McElroy delievered the perfect pass. Rogers dropped it.
At the exact moment Rogers realizes his NFL career is over, Tulloch is in the background, literally laughing at him.
That’s the moment you see at the top of this post.
The previous moments were just the highlights. He popped up behind Jim Schwartz multiple times and danced in front of other linebackers after they made a play. When the camera was focused on the somebody sitting on a bench, Tulloch was, coincidentally, standing behind him, giving a Captain Morgan pose.
The man knows how to maximize his air time.
I wrote this as a public service. Tulloch’s performance needed to be logged into the history books.
Stephen, your performance wasn’t in vain. I noticed. I just hope the JMMA candidates did too.