Known more for his dance moves than his on-field play, Kenneth Gant was one of the more memorable players from those great Dallas Cowboy Superbowl teams of the early 90′s. As a ninth round pick in the 1990 NFL Draft, Gant was an unlikely candidate to become one of the team’s most popular players.
Hailing from little known Albany State University. the 5’11 safety quickly made his mark on special teams. Soon, he became one of the Boy’s best special team’s players. Although Gant’s speed and hard-hitting play kept him on the roster, it was an incident with teammate Kevin Smith that indirectly vaulted him into fame.
Discover the origin of the Shark Dance, see Kenny in action, and find out where he is now, all after the break.
During practices early in the 1992 season, Gant noticed that Kevin Smith, his fellow defensive back, would celebrate a good play by bending an arm at the elbow and holding it up to his helmet. Smith termed it “the Shark Fin,” and said the defensive backs at Texas A&M, his alma mater, used it to show off. “In practice all of us started flashing the fin, just sorta goofing around,” says Gant. “But it wasn’t like there was anything to it.” That is, until the fifth game of the ’92 season, when Gant sprinted down the field on a punt, charged Seattle’s Robb Thomas, and hammered him with a forearm to the head. As Gant leapt to his feet, he bent his right arm, held it to his noggin, and swayed it back and forth while bobbing his rear end. The Texas Stadium crowd roared with delight. – This excerpt is from the book, “Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty.” by Jeff Pearlman
After Gant let the shark out of it’s cage, it refused to go back in. The relatively unknown special teams player was now a fan favorite. And the legendary “Shark Dance” he performed prior to kickoffs and punt returns is now Dallas Cowboy lore. Gant’s antics were all part of the spectacle that those early Cowboy teams reveled in.
Watch the shark in action, in the video below:
After five seasons of numerous celebratory antics and two Super Bowl wins under his belt, Kenny Gant became an unrestricted free agent. He eventually signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he provide his services for three relatively productive years. Gant retired from the NFL after eight seasons. He played in a total of 113 games and finished with 152 total tackles and 7 interceptions.
At last report, Kenny lives in a modest two bedroom home just outside of Tampa, Florida with is wife and children. He is employed at a local warehouse, where he works the overnight shift. I can see it now: a 44 year old Kenny Gant, grinning from ear to ear, shark dancing on a warehouse dock. Thanks for the memories, Shark.