ARLINGTON, Texas – It was ridiculous enough when T.O. celebrated on the Dallas Cowboys' star. What the heck is up with A.J. pulling that strutting stunt?
His name is A.J. Bouye, an undrafted free agent cornerback out of Central Florida who hopes to earn a spot on the Houston Texans' roster, a cause his interception early in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s preseason finale should have helped. But Bouye earned a 15-yard penalty and the scorn of Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the former Cowboys head coach, by jogging to the star logo at AT&T Stadium's midfield and celebrating by raising his arms and looking toward the roof.
It was a scene that conjured up memories of then-San Francisco 49ers receiver Terrell Owens’ infamous star-celebrating stunts at Texas Stadium in 2000.
“That’s just stupid. It’s just stupid,” said Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, who sat out the game with the rest of the Dallas starters. “I understand having fun with the game, but you know me, I don’t like to celebrate too much. I like to worry about winning football games and moving on to the next play. I guess there’s having fun out there, but at some point, it can be a little bit much.”
Bouye, who was far from brash after the Texans’ 24-6 victory, agreed with Lee’s assessment.
"I wasn't thinking, I was being stupid,” Bouye said. “It was disrespectful for me to do it, for the team and the other team. I wasn't thinking. … They don't' teach us to do that. For me to even do that was disrespectful.”
The Cowboys weren’t too bothered by the disrespect. Lee wasn’t even aware of it until informed about the incident by a reporter, as was also the case with Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant. Owner/general manager Jerry Jones shrugged it off as “just motivation for us,” then asked if Bouye was flagged.
The Cowboys basically responded to the rookie moment by rolling their eyes.
“He’s got to understand that this is nothing to get excited about,” Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant said. “It didn’t count. It’s preseason. This is preseason. I’m not trying to bust his bubble, but it’s the truth. It’s just preseason.”
It was much more heated when Owens twice sprinted to the star to celebrate after scoring touchdowns in the 49ers’ September 2000 victory at Texas Stadium, which prompted ex-San Francisco coach Steve Mariucci to fine and suspend his star receiver for a game. Safety George Teague’s tenure with the Cowboys is best remembered for him running after Owens on the second occasion and delivering a big hit at midfield.
The Cowboys could have used Teague on Thursday night. None of the Cowboys on the field confronted Bouye.
“I’ve got George coaching my grandson,” Jones said, “so I’ve got him doing some heavy lifting someplace else.”