4-7-04, 2 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
By waving the flag of a 15-yard penalty, the NFL has silenced Chad Johnson's end-zone celebrations. He admits he is out of ideas, so he's now making an appeal to all of Bengaldom to come up with some for him.
"I'm looking for a signature move that doesn't get me in trouble and I think it would be cool for the fans to send in their ideas," Johnson said earlier this week. "I need some help from the fans. Put it on the internet big and let's see what they have."
Johnson went to his first Pro Bowl last season by scoring 10 touchdowns, and he got in trouble after at least three of them. He got fined for a joint "picture taking," session in the end zone with Peter Warrick in Cleveland, and for when he pulled a home-made sign
out of the back of the Paul Brown Stadium end zone that asked the NFL not to fine him after he scored against the Niners. And, he got fined and flagged when he signaled to the fans he wasn't going to throw his helmet into the PBS stands after scoring against Seattle and the officials interpreted it as the slash-the-throat gesture.
Now the landscape is different. The NFL owners voted to come down hard on celebrations at last month's league meetings attaching 15-yard penalties to those that use foreign objects and more than one player. Johnson's sign – even though it wished the NFL a Merry Christmas _ was even used as an example for a 15-yard penalty under the new rules by the NFL Competition Committee.
And Johnson knows how Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is going to take a 15-yard penalty on the kickoff.
Such as against Seattle, when Johnson pulled his stunt with 8:03 left in a game the Bengals led by a field goal, and Lewis crawled all over him even as he came off the field.
"We have to play with poise as well. That obviously put us in jeopardy with the kickoff from the 10- or 15-yard line," said the still steaming Lewis after that game. "We can't do that. It's too big. Field position against a team that is clicking and moving like they were — it's big in the game. We take a step forward, and then we take two steps back when we do that. But we're learning. It just keeps coming. "(Johnson) knows he's not allowed to do the gesture he made," Lewis said. "It's not part of the game, it's not good for the game, and we know better. That's the thing that we have to keep getting better at."
Johnson knows enough now that he didn't try his Janet Jackson tribute at the Pro Bowl back in February when he scored a touchdown. He planned to put some extra material on his chest and then have a teammate rip it off while he celebrated, exposing "something like the NFL logo."
But cooler heads prevailed, and now Johnson is looking for something new and different that won't get him flagged, or have Lewis chewing off his face on the sidelines.
"I'm looking to do the same thing every time," Johnson said. "Something like Ickey (Woods) always used to do when he did "The Shuffle." But I want it to be original."
Which is where the fans come in.