For me, the highlight of my week has been Ickey Woods doing the griddy.
I did not ask him to do the griddy. I asked him if he had learned how to do the griddy. He voluntarily began to do the griddy between the CBS Sports Radio and NFL Network booths. His feet were too far apart, but it wasn’t a bad effort and I’m just happy that, on Super Bowl radio row, he did it off and on for about 30 seconds.
Woods was the Cincinnati Bengals leading rusher during his rookie 1988 season, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He, along with backfield mates James Woods, Stanley Wilson, and quarterback Boomer Esiason, rushed for 2,710 yards and 28 touchdowns. The Bengals came within one Joe Montana 92-yard drive of defeating the San Francisco 49ers and winning the franchise’s only Super Bowl. Woods became a star that season not only because of his 1,066 rushing yards, but his Ickey Shuffle dance.
He doesn’t get asked to do it much in the airport these days, outside of Geico commercials, but it’s every bit as iconic as the Deion Shuffle, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson doing the Funky Chicken, and now the griddy. Woods created the dance during his rookie season.
“I was sitting at the house and flew my mom in for a game against the Cleveland Browns,” Woods said. “I said, ‘Mom if I score today this is what I’ma do.’ She said ‘boy you better not do that,’ and being the hard-headed kid that I was [I] did it anyway.”
The original dance was just Woods jumping up in the air and putting his hands between his legs like a kind of basketball ball handling drill. His teammate, the late Rickey Dixon, told him the dance was “wack.”
“The whole week I thought what could I do, what could I do,” Woods said. “Then five minutes before I was supposed to go out and warm up against the New York Jets it hit me.”
Dixon approved of the final version that made Woods a star that ’88 season. His star burned out quickly as injuries derailed the rest of his career, but he’s still a popular NFL personality. As he was making his way around radio row, Blackish star Anthony Anderson very much enjoyed taking a picture with a star from his youth.
These days Woods’ main focus is his foundation, the Jovante Woods Foundation. It’s eponymously named after his son who died at just 16 after complications from an asthma attack.
“I go around the country raising money for asthma research and asthma education.” Woods said.
Even though Woods’ purpose is to raise money in wake of a tragedy he still manages to be as fun a personality as he was as a player and in that commercial. For fans of his, those who remember him as a player or want to contribute to a good cause here’s the link.