When Football and Karate Combine: Antonio Brown and Billy Sims

Early in the 2014 season, Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers tried to evade a punter with a flying kick, evoking memories of another high flying superstar of the past, former Detroit Lions running back Billy Sims. Dave McCullough takes us through Antonio Brown and Billy Sims’ karate kicking ways.

The Lions line up with 22 personnel at the Houston Oilers’ 30-yard line, shifting into i-formation, with the tight end coming in motion from left to right. Sims, the tailback, is eight yards deep and the call is HB lead toss. The Oilers are prepared, loading nine defenders into the box with the other two defenders (the corner and strong safety – offscreen) within ten yards of the line of scrimmage.

Doesn’t matter:

Yes, you just saw that. Sims hurdled one defender and delivered what can only be described as a karate kick to cornerback Steve Brown, who played 119 games over seven seasons after this highlight. Brown was simply the latest victim of Sims, who was an astonishing talent before a knee injury ended his career.

Now flash forward to 2014. When the Pittsburgh Steelers Antonio Brown executed a similar maneuver on the Cleveland Browns’ punter, it became an internet sensation and one of the highlights of the season. Chuck Zodda literally never stops talking about it in the ITP offices:

[jwplayer file=”http://cdn.insidethepylon.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/BrownReturn.mp4″ image=”http://cdn.insidethepylon.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/BrownReturnStill.jpg”]

The degree of difficulty here is much lower. Whereas Sims was facing a stacked line and took out a corner after hurdling another defender, Brown was in the open field, trampling a punter one-on-one. Further, the returner is tackled by a trailing defender who recovers because Brown chooses to deliver the kick instead of running around a specialist. And after the game, the Steeler was fined $8,200 for his action while Sims is revered as the guy who ran like that – without the kick – on just about every play.

Follow David on Twitter @SoSH_davemc.

David R. McCullough is the Editor-in-Chief of Inside the Pylon. He also writes about the topics shaping the sport, examines the coaches and players, ruminates on football’s past, and explores the controversial issues facing the game.

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