Moments come and go, but the internet is forever. Nobody knows that better than the people who become famous (or infamous) online from specifically captured situations that become memes. It happened to one of our own here at Complex when she became an instant GIF after curiously observing the infamous square-up between Migos and Everyday Struggle's own Joe Budden and DJ Akademiks. And it's happening again right now via comedian Michael Dapaah, who took his talents to BBC Radio to birth the reigning meme of the moment, "The Ting Goes."
I don't know where my man's was supposed to be....but it wasn't here. At all. pic.twitter.com/DgvVJoHLLN— Tristan (@AyoTristan) September 4, 2017
Around the same time Dapaah's gibberish rap took flight on social media, another person started ticking high up on the scale of peak memery. In the video above, Alabama head football coach Nick Saban is giving a post-game interview after defeating the Florida State Seminoles. But anybody with working eyes isn't focused on Saban. Instead, we're transfixed on another man, who's directly behind Saban and going through a series of emotions: obliviousness, panic, then God-get-me-TF-outta-here. It didn't take long for the subject at the center of thousands of retweets and likes to make himself known:
Manuel DeLeon is a sports reporter for online publication The Sky Boat, covering Florida State football; that's why he was on the field that night. He's also in the podcast world, regularly appearing on sports and entertainment podcast HangTime With J&J. After waking up to the reality of becoming a meme, Manuel spoke to Complex about what the hell happened in the moment that sparked it all.
What exactly happened in that moment that made you dip immediately?
When you're a reporter, you get the final five minutes of the game on the field. When the game is over, you wanna get in the best position for your shots and your content you wanna post, because you're racing against other people that wanna put up the same type of content. I played a little running back in high school—I'm 27, but I still got it. So when the game is over, I just take off to the middle of the field. I don't notice the cameras or Nick Saban because I'm just trying to get pictures of the star players. But when I turned around, I'm right there in the camera. I'm a very humble person, I don't like a lot of attention. So when I looked up and saw I was in the camera angle, my job as a reporter is to get shots or whatnot. I just took a couple pictures, then it was like, "Damn. I really made it on TV." I was like, "Really?"
So you immediately realized you were on live TV in that moment?
Yeah, in that moment, I did. At that moment, I looked down at my phone when I was taking the pictures, and my brother texted me and said, "Boy, you know you on TV?" So I looked up, and I was like, "Aw damn, man." So I had to get up out of there. But the cameras, y'all got the perfect angle, perfect shot of it. That's really all it was: just me doing my job as a sports reporter. Sometimes, you look crazy as hell on TV.
Got it. So this little story you're telling online—that you got a text from your girl—that's not true, then?
Nah. That ain't true. Believe it or not, I'm actually single. I ain't got no old lady.
When did you find out you were a meme?
I didn't find out til the next morning. My friends and family were hitting me on Facebook, they were posting stuff like, "Man, we see you on TV!" I didn't think nothing of it, we had got out of there late. I went to sleep and didn't think anything of it until a guy posted it on Twitter and one of my co-workers texted my boss and said, "You know Manuel is trending on Twitter now?" So that's how I found out. But the clowning started on Facebook with my family.
Where did you go after that last frame? Because we just have that last moment when you look back one time and that's all we see.
First thing I did was go and find Jalen Hurts: he's the quarterback of the No. 1 team in the nation (Alabama). You gotta get your content out there, you wanna put your best product out there.
What's work been like? Anyone giving you a hard time?
Yesterday, it started to really take off before the game. So the couple of ESPN camera crew guys, when I was just standing on the sideline, they were taking selfies with me and I didn't even know. I'm walking through the stadium, and they're like, "Hey sir—I don't know if you know, but you know you're a meme now?" I'm like, "Yeah, I know, man." I'm just a small-town boy from Belleview, Florida. So all of that type of stuff is cool and all, but I still have a job to do. I appreciate all the love. I'm just a regular dude, trying to make it for my daughter and everything. I gotta do what I gotta do, and if it takes looking crazy behind Nick Saban, I'll do it 100 times for her.
Do you have any favorite made-up reasons that people have attributed to that moment?
Oh yeah: that I had warrants. I thought that one was funny. And when you tell your old lady you're hanging out with the fellas, but really you're at the game. It was a couple of 'em, it's just happening so fast. I read them, but it's so many good ones. This one dude had posted, "Nene from the Housewives," I think that was the funniest one.
Yeah, the Shade Room has you on their Instagram, too.
Yeah, I just started following them. I'm a low-key dude, but I'm just embracing it and going with it, enjoying the 15 minutes.
While I have this platform, if you don't mind, I would like to say something to the kids back there in Marion County—especially Belleview. I come from a place that's rough and struggling, but as long as you remain humble, faithful, and have a plan—and don't allow anyone to deter you from your plan—stay focused and you can do it. I used to coach football back there and I told them I would do something with myself. It took a little while for me to grow up, but now that I'm in the position I'm in right now, I want to be a positive influence to the kids back there. There aren't that many positive influences in our community as it is already. So I just wanna show them, even if you can't succeed in sports on the field, you don't have to fall back into the hood. You can use your mind and have a plan. Stay up and stay focused.
Anything you want to say to the people who are finding you on Twitter?
It's all good fun. I'm a clown, man. I like laughing, I like joking. I don't take myself too seriously. Whatever y'all wanna throw at me, I can throw something right back. I used to crack all the time with my homeboys back in high school, so it's all good.