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DK Metcalf On Sign Language Celebrations: 'I Always Try To Exercise My Mind'

Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf explains why he has added American Sign Language to his touchdown celebrations this year.


After springing to the end zone for a 73-yard touchdown last week, DK Metcalf celebrated not with a dance or by spiking the football. Instead he dropped the ball, then signed the phrase, "standing on business."

In what has become a regular occurrence for the Seahawks receiver, Metcalf has used American Sign Language as a way to celebrate in games this season. And this isn't a case of a player learning a phrase or word just to celebrate on the field; he has been studying ASL for several months, revisiting a language he first studied for a summer while in college.

Every Tuesday, starting with the first week of the season, Metcalf gets on a zoom call with Darrell Utley, a sign language instructor in Knoxville, Tennessee, in what Metcalf says is just the latest way for him to challenge himself and expand his horizons.

"I always try to exercise my mind or try to learn something new," Metcalf said. "In the past I was taking acting classes, so now I figured, let's take it a step further. So I'm trying to learn ASL, and I'm trying to learn how to play the guitar right now as well."

Metcalf said he has enjoyed his weekly sessions with Utley, who he hopes to have as his guest at Seattle's Week 16 game at Tennessee, and he has come to see that his sign language celebrations are also helping to shed a light on people who often times feel overlooked.

"It's great that I get to learn something new, I get to challenge myself to learn something new, and also just to bring light to a community that I didn't know felt unseen, felt like they were being forgotten about," Metcalf said. "So just shed a light on the ASL community, the deaf community to where more people are starting to learn ASL and starting to take heed to, 'All right, what is he going to sign next? What is he signing?' The curiosity factor comes in to where it's bringing attention to the language of ASL."

Metcalf added that, "A few people have reached out to me saying, 'Thank you for learning ASL.' Or, 'Thank you for signing on national television."

Last week's "standing on business" celebration actually came from teammate Boye Mafe, who began learning sign language, along with his siblings, when he was in high school. Mafe, who signs “I love you” to his late mother, Bola, before every game and sometimes after sacks, noticed Metcalf taking an interest in the language he and his siblings sometimes still use to communicate, and has offered his teammate some tips this season. After a team meeting in Dallas last Wednesday, Mafe showed Metcalf how to sign "standing on business," and Metcalf decided to run with it.

"I said, 'OK, I'm using that tomorrow when I score,'" Metcalf said. "So everybody can give Boye credit for that one."

Much has been made of late that Metcalf learned sign language so he can talk trash without being penalized, and while he acknowledges that there may be a bit of truth to that after the fact, that was never his goal when he first took up the language early this season.

"It started out as me trying to learn something new, then the reffing thing kind of got thrown into the mix to where it kind of turned into trash talk," he said. "But no, I'm trying to learn a new language, simply put."

Check out some of the best photos taken of Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf from the 2023 season.

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