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Austin Ekeler TD celebration: How Chargers RB started iconic air guitar ritual after scoring

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Over the last two years, no non-quarterback has found the end zone more frequently than Austin Ekeler.

The Chargers running back has been among the league’s best scorers, as he led the NFL in rushing and receiving touchdowns in 2021 with 20 and entered Week 10 tied for a share of the lead with 10 in 2022.

That means that Ekeler has gotten to celebrate his scores in recent years more than anybody league-wide. As such, NFL fans have seen his touchdown celebration frequently.

And every time, it is the same, simple move: an air guitar riff.

Ekeler certainly puts a lot of energy and effort into his strumming, but just how did it begin? Here’s a look at what went into creating one of the most recognizable touchdown celebrations in the NFL today.

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Austin Ekeler’s air guitar TD celebration, explained

Ekeler’s idea to celebrate with an air guitar riff didn’t just begin at the NFL level. The idea dated back to four years at Western Colorado, where he starred for the Mountaineers.

“It’s evolved over the years,” Ekeler said of his air guitar celebration on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” in 2020. “When I first got into the league, it was just because I love old 80s [and] 90s rock. And I was with my roommates one time when we were in college, and I was like, ‘I’m gonna hit this for a TD celebration if I ever make it to the league.’ So, that’s what it started out as.”

From there the celebration started to become a habit for Ekeler. He found it to be exhilarating not only for him but also for the crowd.

This has kinda got a lot of energy behind it. The crowd loves it too, so I felt like I wanted to keep this staple behind myself. So, I just kept it going for the three years I’ve been in the league. Now it’s just every time I get in the end zone, it’s like, ‘Air up! Let’s get everyone going.’

Ekeler was asked whether he has a particular song going through his head while performing his celebration. He explained that he doesn’t, but he did give one song that he felt like embodied his strumming.

“Last year, I was like listening to my pregame music and I was listening to Ten Thousand Fists by Disturbed,” Ekeler explained. “I was like, ‘You know what, if I had a song, this would be it.'”

Ekeler also expressed that he was enthused about bringing the air guitar celebration to the Chargers’ new home at SoFi Stadium, which was set to open its doors for the first time just a few months after Ekeler gave the interview.

“Hopefully, it can bring some energy to SoFi Stadium and get everyone on board with it,” he said. “That’s my dream now”

Indeed, Ekeler did bring the celebration to SoFi Stadium. He has kept it going in the two-plus years since that interview, marking six years that he has celebrated in such a manner.

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Does Austin Ekeler play the guitar?

Interestingly enough, Ekeler does not play the guitar. He revealed that in an interview with Dylan Schefter (daughter of ESPN’s Adam Schefter) on Nickelodeon’s “NFL Slimetime” 

He did, however, explain that he believes his celebration helps him to understand what it’s like to be a rockstar.

“I feel like that’s what a guitarist would be feeling when they’re on stage,” Ekeler said. “And the energy that you feel is like man, this is probably what it’s like to be in a band.”

Ekeler may not have as much musical talent as a rock star or even as much as other NFL stars. Still, he is confident that at least one of his skills is the best league-wide.

“[I’m] the best air guitar player in the NFL,” Ekeler said with a smile on his face.


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