Cell phone was stashed behind goal post

Updated: December 15, 2003, 9:54 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- Joe Horn really did phone it in Sunday night.

The New Orleans receiver couldn't wait to talk about his touchdown, so he pulled out a cell phone and made a call from the end zone.

After catching the second of four touchdown passes against the New York Giants, Horn was handed a flip-phone by teammate Michael Lewis, who pulled it out from under the padding used to protect the goal post.

Theismann Take
Joe Theismann
I have to agree with Saints coach Jim Haslett when he said Horn's actions aren't what the Saints are about. This was a classless and extremely disheartening thing for Horn to do. This was a sheer example of selfish football that could've cost the Saints the game if the Giants had been able to take advantage of the great field position that resulted from the excessive celebration penalty. The Saints and the league are probably going to both fine Horn and he's quite deserving of the loss of money.

A game analyst for ESPN's Sunday Night Football, former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann won a Super Bowl and a league MVP award. He contributes regularly to ESPN.com.

Horn was still wearing his helmet when he punched in numbers, put the phone to his earhole and began speaking into it for a few seconds.

"I had told my kids to be at home, watching the game, and I told my momma, 'Mom, if I score the second one, I'm going to get my cell phone out,' " Horn said.

Horn then ran back to his bench and was confronted by coach Jim Haslett.

Horn drew the coach's ire earlier this season for a touchdown celebration. After scoring against Atlanta Oct. 19, Horn pretended to machine gun two teammates, who fell to the ground in the end zone.

"It was the same thing in Atlanta," Haslett said. "He'll learn. He's only 32."

The weird TD-celebration rivaled that of San Francisco's Terrell Owens. Last year, the 49ers' receiver pulled out a pen from his sock after scoring a TD against Seattle, signed the ball and handed it to his financial consultant seated in a nearby suite.

Earlier Sunday, Cincinnati receiver Chad Johnson mugged for the cameras. After his 10-yard touchdown catch on the Bengals' first possession, he ran out of the end zone and retrieved a preprinted sign stored behind a snow drift.

Johnson, who has repeatedly been fined by the league for uniform violations and touchdown celebrations, held up the sign that read: "Dear NFL: Please don't fine me again."

Horn's antics resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the ensuing kickoff of a game the Saints won 45-7. At the time, New Orleans led 17-7 in the second quarter.

"It was uncalled for," Haslett told ESPN before the start of the second half. "We don't do that here.

"Obviously he'll be fined for it, and he should be fined for it."

The NFL had no immediate comment.

Horn, played the rest of the game and finished with nine catches for 119 yards.

In the third quarter, Horn capped a 60-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown reception, his third of the game, tying the franchise record set last season by Deuce McAllister. This time, he took the football to quarterback Aaron Brooks, presented it to him and hugged him.

In the fourth quarter, Horn caught an 18-yard scoring pass in the same end zone where the phone call took place, and this time he did a short victory dance.

"You don't do stuff like that," Haslett said after the game. "I know it was premeditated. I know it was national television. But you don't do it.

"I won't fine him," he said, grinning.

Meanwhile, fans seated behind New Orleans' bench waved cell phones and offered them to the team.

The Giants reaction varied.

"I have great respect for Joe Horn, but that's not original," New York defensive end Michael Strahan said. "Terrell Owens already beat everybody to that stuff. That's bush league."

Quarterback Jesse Palmer, who made his first NFL start, found it funny. But after the Giants' 45-7 loss, their sixth straight, wide receiver Amani Toomer said Horn's prank was not his concern.

"Him and his cell phone are the least of our worries," Toomer said.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press