PERHAPS no other single act in sports has given rise to such diametrical personal expressions as football touchdowns. Flamboyant end-zone dances, which began in the 1980s and are still going strong, now enjoy a quiet counterpoint - players kneeling, heads bowed, on their arrival in the promised land. What transpires during these moments is hard to know, but on the surface, at least, the players exhibit a sense of reverent humility. That's quite a contrast to the me-me-me struts.
The big play clearly has become a showcase for players' styles, though only under favorable conditions. This double standard is at the root of a rule coach Lou Holtz has at Notre Dame. ``You can take off your headgear and point to the crowd and look into the camera if you make a good play,'' he told Sports Illustrated. ``That's provided you also do it after a fumble, after you drop a pass, and after you miss a block.''
Mom has academic credentials, too
IN writing last week about Detroit Pistons rookie Grant Hill and his habit of bookstore-browsing, attention was drawn to the Hill family academic bent - Grant went to Duke University and his father, Calvin, to Yale. Missing was another important detail: Grant's mother, Janet McDonald Hill, graduated from Wellesley College in Massachusetts as a classmate of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Today Mrs. Hill runs a consulting firm in Washington.
Though her husband and son may be more publicly recognized than she, Hill says it creates no domestic tensions. ``I don't feel upstaged,'' she said in a televised ``Frontline'' interview, ``because I feel very grounded with them and they do check their egos at the door, their athletic egos at the door....''
Touching other bases
* Little-known fact: When originally awarded in 1935, the Heisman Trophy was for the best college football player east of the Mississippi. Also, Iowa halfback Nile Kinnick managed to win the geographically expanded 1939 Heisman, despite rushing for only 375 yards.
* What's the best state for politically minded ex-football players? Oklahoma. The state elected two former college stars to the United States House of Representatives: Steve Largent, a wide receiver at the University of Tulsa from 1972-75, and J. C. Watts, a wishbone quarterback at the University of Oklahoma between 1978 and '80. Watts, a black Republican, won in a district that is 90 percent white and predominantly Democratic. Largent, whose National Football League record of catching a pass in 178 consecutive games was broken over the weekend by Art Monk of the New York Jets, joins Watts on the Republican side of the aisle.