“Dancing with the Stars” welcomed many an NFL player over its first 21 seasons, but Season 22, which premiered on Monday, March 21, features three: newly-minted Super Bowl MVP Von Miller from the Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown and former Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie, a Canadian Football League legend who also spent 13 years in the NFL. We’ll be posting recaps each Tuesday morning until all three are eliminated – or one wins.
Music icons week, with songs from some of the biggest acts in history, saw another NFL player sent home, though not the one we expected to see.
Antonio Brown and his pro partner Sharna Burgess trained to dance a tango to the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black.”
Burgess tells us that the pair stayed in Los Angeles for the week, not traveling to Pittsburgh as they’d done previously, and it was a plus that they did since they had two dances to learn (in addition to their couple’s dance, the two were part of a group number).
The Stones’ song they’ve been given “is a real dark song; so far in the show, I’ve been the guy with the smile. I think this will be a different side,” Brown says. “Sharna is a great coach, she’s harping on those details and making sure she makes me look good so we can have a great dance.”
When they take the stage, dressed in black, of course, and begin their dance, Brown is trying to look intense, but his scowl is more like a pout. His huge smile has been a trademark, but he was trying to keep it from creeping out during a dramatic dance.
Turns out, his facial expression wasn’t Brown’s only issue: all of the judges noted that his steps were off.
“Tango is a balance between attack and purpose, and style and finesse,” Len Goodman said. “This had plenty of attitude (but) there were a few mistakes going on through it.”
Goodman was booed by the audience, as was Carrie Ann Inaba, who notes, “On the football field, speed is a weapon, and last week it served you so well [Brown did a jive from the movie “Footloose”], but this week it worked against you. It was your enemy in this dance.”
Hearing the crowd’s displeasure, Inaba tells them, “Hold on, this is important feedback for him because he’s got magic. He’s electrifying. But you have to get these moves down.”
Bruno Tonioli says it was “like a tango in the temple of doom,” but also tells Brown he has to get his footwork right.
Brown gets an 8 from each judge, and his total of 24 is tied for lowest of the night.
Von Miller gets a dance that’s more fun, Elvis’ “A little less conversation”, and he and partner Witney Carson work up a salsa to the tune.
The two traveled during the week, though they don’t say where. It wasn’t to Denver, as Miller is not attending offseason workouts in protest of his contract status.
Miller was in the bottom three last week, though former NFL and CFL star Doug Flutie was the celebrity eliminated. The current Super Bowl MVP says of being in jeopardy, “it’s really not a fun place to be.”
What was fun was their dance. Miller was wearing a bedazzled white pantsuit, had faux muttonchops, and began the dance with one of Elvis’ signature capes. Taking advantage of Miller’s strength and size, there were a lot of lifts and spins, with Carson going in every direction.
The high-energy performance looked to us like Miller’s best dance to this point.
Goodman said the dance was “like a pizza: a bit crusty on the base but tasty up top. And the lifts were spectacular.”
Tonioli quipped that Carson will need a chiropractor after being tossed and twisted – “I thought she was going to die!”
Inaba said, “It was a bit rough around the edges but what I love about you, Von, is this is a side of you I never thought I would have ever seen. I kind of feel so honored to see you having such a great time. You were playing along 100 percent, it’s campy, it’s fun, I love that you go there.”
But it wasn’t enough for Miller to see better scores, and he also gets three 8s, tied with Brown for lowest of the night.
After the group dances, which saw Miller and Brown join male stars Wanya Morris and Nyle DiMarco and the quartet’s female pros on “Team James Brown,” it was time for eliminations, and this week saw two stars sent home.
Miller, Morris and “Facts of Life” star Kim Fields were the bottom three, and Miller and Fields were sent home. Though Miller clearly was into the experience and appeared to be having fun, with only eight stars left when the night began, there aren’t any more terrible dancers left.
Upon getting the news he was out, Miller said, “It’s been so much fun. It’s all great dancers here, the competition is very, very tough. I had so much fun, me and Witney have special relationship. It’s been great.”