5-7-04, 1:45 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
After perusing about 300 e-mails from his fans, Bengals Pro Bowl wide receiver Chad Johnson is leaning to an Ickey Woods-type shuffle in the end zone to celebrate his touchdowns and make peace with the NFL.
"There were a lot of great ideas and it was fun looking at all of them," said Johnson, who planned to participate in Friday's first on-field coaching session for veterans. "I won't do the same thing Ickey did, but I like the idea of doing the same thing every time. I'll have to get thinking abut some kind of a dance."
Johnson had to get thinking after the NFL fined him a couple of times last year for his end-zone antics, and one e-mail signed MJC had him really thinking:
"Maybe you can get around the rules during home games. Tape a celebration prior to the game and have it played on the stadium monitors after each touchdown. You can change your celebrations accordingly. You can point to the monitors to signal to the fans to watch."
Johnson smiles whenever he's reminded of that one, and he may end up checking out the rules on it. But for now, it sounds like he likes the idea of a dance. Woods' touchdown jig is still popular 16 years after it became the symbol of the Bengals' 1988 AFC title.
Megan's e-mail is typical of the many Ickey-backers:
"If I was Chad Johnson, and since he scores so much, I think that the PERFECT idea for a dance in the end zone would be a new and revamped Ickey Shuffle. . .somethin for the new cats of 2004, something that the Ickey Generation and the new school generation can all love. . . possibly the "Cat Crawl."
Johnson also thought long and hard about some of the old-er school e-mails that urged him to imitate the Bengals' first wide receiver to go to multiple Pro Bowls and the man who used to wear his No. 85.
"It's nothing flashy, but I always liked the way Isaac Curtis dropped the ball after one of his touchdowns," writes Mal. "It was just a simple extending of the ball over his shoulder and dropping it to the turf. It was sort of a non celebration. But it was his and made him unique. He was always known as Mr. Cool and it was his signature after each TD. Keep it simple, but something that will be identifiable."
Johnson likes the idea of tipping his hat to tradition, but in the end it may be too simple. The Silent Majority may have carried the day, because a huge number of e-mails urged him to "act like you've been there before," and just hand the ball to the official after a touchdown.
"No way," Johnson said. "It's a new time."