Week 3 of Dancing With the Stars: Antonio’s Rubicon?

Week 3It’s Week 3, and things are heating up. Antonio Brown slipped from tied for second place (along with about five other people) in Week 1 to being in sole possession of fifth place. In other words, only four up from the bottom.

The buzz before the broadcast was that AB’s oldest son would join him for his Week 3 dance, and his son is a pretty cute kid. I’ve watched him run sprints with the players at training camp under the proudly beaming face of papa, and I’m guessing he will be quite the little showman.

But let’s see what actually happened. First, back to 2011.

Hines Ward: Samba

It was “Story Night,” and Hines’ “story” honored his mother. Hines requested a black and gold costume and pulled out a Terrible Towel to twirl at the end.

Instead of the current 2-hour format, at that time there were two one-hour shows on back to back nights, will the second night being the results show. On that occasion, when the judges gave their results, they stood up and twirled Terrible Towels as well.

This was during the NFL lockout, but Ward left no doubt he was competing as a Steeler.

As you have probably gathered, the judges liked his samba. A lot.

Hines and Kim elicited the first 9 given that season (the scores were 9/8/8.) One other 9 was given that night, but generally the nines were few and far between until the latter half of the competition. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Carrie Ann: Hines’ you’re dancing the samba like you’ve been dancing it your whole life. Good job!” (She gave the 9)
  • Len: The story was upbeat, the dance was upbeat—it’s obvious Carrie Ann is proud of you, your mother is proud of you, and I’ll tell you what, I’m proud of you.
  • Bruno: This samba was like an uplifted expression of happiness.

In the interview bit Hines was asked what his teammates and Steeler Nation thought about him learning to be a ballroom dancer. He replied, “They gave me a lot of flak about it earlier, but I went out and proved them wrong.”

Let’s see whether Antonio is holding up the tradition of excellence. After beginning at No. 3 out of 11 couples in Week 1, Hines and Kym moved into the No. 2 slot, and in Week 3 were in sole possession of No. 1, a slot they didn’t relinquish until Week 9. So if Antonio doesn’t kill it in Week 3 he’s got some ‘spliaining to do…

It was “Personal Story Night” again, where the dance each couple is assigned is tailored to a personal story that is important to the “star.”

First up of the NFL guys was Doug Flutie, who danced a waltz to honor his parents, who died the same day last year. He’s getting better, although he’s still a bit jerky, but his partner is stunning and did a great job working with him. The judges were very encouraging.

Scores: 7/6/7

Von Miller’s story wasn’t particularly clear to me, other than maybe it’s how he calms himself before a game or some such. He and his partner danced a Contemporary dance to a Phil Collins song he listens to before every game. His costume was his tattoos and not much else (on top – he was wearing sweatpants of course.) No hiphop moves, and I thought he was greatly improved. There were still a few points where it wasn’t terribly fluid, but mostly it was really lovely. Here’s what the judges said:

  • Len: You know what I like about you—you come out and you give 100%. There’s no holding back, no playing safe. The lifts were brave. And you know, there’s something charming about seeing a big guy trying to be graceful, and I thought that was terrific. Well done.
  • Bruno: You won the Super Bowl. Now you won the Super Hunk 2016. That is a work of art, sculpted to perfection (referring, I suppose, to his tattooed torso.) It was very, very difficult to look at the dancing, actually. I mean, extremely hard. Forget about Witney anyway. Who cares? Seriously, you’re huge and yet you’re very very light. The one thing—work on your turns. Because you’re big and your center of balance is very high, you have to keep the balance within yourself. If not, you go off-kilter, and then it throws the rest of the dance out. Practice the tuns.
  • Carrie Ann: You know, I watched you play that Super Bowl, and it was amazing—you were like this dominating beast that controlled the whole game and the whole field the whole time. I’m going to tell you something, because I think you have more potential than we’re seeing. I feel like you’re giving us—not 100%, like you were so relaxed. But then you did the lift, and then you got into it—you know I’m telling you the truth—you got into a little bit more. I want to feel like—that’s a powerful song, I use that song to hype myself up too. You were not in that level of zone from step one. I want to see you at that level, every dance [right when] you come out. You kind of ramp up into it. It was very nice, it was pleasant, but I want more from you.

Scores: 7/6/7

It was indeed “Bring Your Son to Work” day for Antonio Brown, as Antonio Jr. was part of the dance. AB’s story?

“My most memorable year was 2007. I was a freshman at Central Michigan. I broke a college record, AND my son was born. When I saw my son for the first time, I knew right there I had to work hard, to make sure I could take care of him, to give him the life I never had.”

Sharna said:

“This [dance] is about you being a dad. One thing I remember is you telling me that your kids are the purest love you’ve ever known.” (Yes, I’m tearing up by now…)

AB: “It was difficult for me not having my dad around, knowing I didn’t have that support system from him, or that leadership to show me how things was done. It’s important to me to give my kids a better childhood, because that’s what generations should do. You know, we all should all make the next one better.”

Darrius Heyward-Bey spoke: “He’s a really good father. He’s really involved in his kids’ lives, making sure they get to school on time”

AB: “I tell my kids I love them all the time, just so they know, dad, he’s got a big heart, no matter who he is or what he do, my love is always unconditional towards them. Football will come and go, but my family will last forever.”

This is particularly affecting when you remember that AB was turned out onto the streets by his mother when she remarried and the stepfather didn’t want a 16-year-old around. He more or less raised himself at that point, with the help of coaches and teachers who took an interest in him and friends (and their parents) who gave him a sofa to sleep on. Growing up in the crime and drug-riddled streets of Liberty City (Miami,) his story could have turned out a lot differently, and undoubtedly has for a lot of the young men he knew back then.

Sharna continues: “The minute you see Antonio talk about his kids, his face lights up, and it’s so beautiful to see that.”

AB: “20 years from now I want to be able to sit down with Antonio and watch this and feel really good about it.”

But on to the dance. They did a Foxtrot, and to my untutored eye it was remarkably improved. There were no bumpy bits that I noticed, the footwork was clean and interesting, he wasn’t sticking his butt out. Antonio Jr. was just in for a few steps at the end, which was really sweet. What did the judges think?

  • Carrie Ann: That was so cute! Antonio Jr., just for you (emphasized) – she pulled out the score marker with a 10 on it, one which very seldom sees the light of day. AB II was pretty pumped.
  • Now, for the whole routine, I saw much more refinement, I saw you doing the port de bras [a ballet term meaning “carriage of the arms” – in other words, this frame the judges are always on about…]  I saw you do what the football players do so well on our show, you gathered all the energy from the audience, and I felt like you were going in for the touchdown. It was awesome, it was really beautiful. One little thing, just watch your hands, because it still on there, you still have a little bit like a catcher’s mitt going on…
  • Len: I don’t like to disagree, but I didn’t see enough refinement in that. (Boos from audience.) You can think what you wanna think. That’s why they don’t have just one judge, because we all see with different eyes. I thought you did a very, very competent performance. I loved little Antonio out there, but I wanted more refinement.
  • Bruno: You’ve got your secret weapon there—Mini-Me, a weapon of mass enchantment. You are a delight. And I have to say, you were going around there, it was like watching a dizzying, dazzling silver twister around the room. (He was dressed in a silvery sequined tux.) You put so much into it. The complexity of the steps were very very high. You get excited and you start to skip. DON’T SKIP!!! He does! You can’t do that, because it loses the finesse of the dance.

When they went up to get their scores, Erin Andrews wittered on for a while and then asked AB Jr. “How exciting was that, to dance with dad?” His one-word answer? “BOOMING!!” Well trained, obviously.

Scores: 7/6/7

Here are the full results for tonight, in the order the couples danced:

  • Ginger and Val: 7/7/7
  • Doug and Karina: 7/6/7
  • Kim and Sasha: 8/7/7
  • Von and Witney: 7/6/7
  • Marla and Tony: 7/7/7
  • Antonio and Sharna: 7/6/7
  • Paige and Mark 8/7/8
  • Jodie and Keo: 8/7/8
  • Mischa and Artem: 6/6/6
  • Wanya and Lindsay:8/8/8
  • Nyle and Peta: 8/8/9

This breaks down to the following “leaderboard” of cumulative judge’s scores:

  • 71: Wanya and Lindsay
  • 68: Paige and Mark, Nyle and Peta
  • 64: Ginger and Val, Jodie and Keo (the latter were in danger of elimination, despite their reasonably high total from the judges, because the fan vote also carries a lot of weight. AB wasn’t, also because of the fan vote.)
  • 62: Marla and Tony
  • 61: Von and Witney
  • 60: AB and Sharna, Kim and Sasha
  • 55: Doug and Karina (The third couple “in danger”)
  • 49: Mischa and Artem (eliminated)

AB definitely stepped it up a notch, but it’s going to take more than that to stay in the competition for much longer. He needs your support, Steeler Nation, to stay in this while he figures out the art of impressing the judges, not just his supporters. Don’t forget, you can vote online until 10:30 Eastern time tonight.

to be continued

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