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Ickey Woods to lead pregame chant at Bengals-Raiders game

The man behind the “Ickey Shuffle” will be the Cincinnati Bengals’ “Ruler of the Jungle” when the Raiders play there Saturday.

Ickey Woods, the former UNLV star running back and Bengals rookie sensation, will lead fans in a “Who Dey” pregame chant and then watch the game on a throne.

“It’s good to be a part of a Bengal playoff game,” Woods said. “It’s been a while for us around here to get into a playoff. Hopefully, we can have a playoff win.

“We’ve got a nice core of young talent that’s going to be great. It’s great to see these guys finally putting some things together.”

Woods grew up a Raiders fan in Fresno, California, but has made Cincinnati his home since being drafted by the Bengals in the second round in 1988. He stayed in Ohio after his playing career because of promising work opportunities after he endeared himself to the area.

His 1988 season is one that is still fondly remembered in Cincinnati. Woods rushed for 1,066 yards and a still team-record 15 touchdowns, averaging a league-high 5.3 yards per carry.

The Bengals went all the way to the Super Bowl that season before losing to the San Francisco 49ers 20-16 on a last-minute touchdown pass.

Along the way, Woods made famous the “Ickey Shuffle,” which he performed on sidelines after scoring touchdowns. The combination of his on-field production and the shuffle earned him a cover photo on Sports Illustrated.

He resurrected the shuffle in an insurance commercial in 2014, introducing Woods to a younger generation of NFL fans.

A torn ACL in 1989 prevented Woods from building on his successful first season. He for a combined 459 yards and 12 TDs over the following three years.

Woods was on the 1990 team that beat the Houston Oilers 41-14 in the wild-card round, the last time the Bengals won a playoff game. They lost 20-10 a week later to the Los Angeles Raiders.

“It’s not only been a long time coming for the Bengals, but a long time coming for the Raiders, too,” Woods said. “I’m rooting for both, but my heart is with the Bengals because I played here.”

Woods knew rare postseason success at UNLV, too, rushing for a 16-yard touchdown in the Rebels’ 30-13 victory over Toledo in the 1984 California Bowl. In 1987, Woods rushed for 1,658 yards, earning him the high draft pick and later induction into the UNLV Athletics Hall of Fame.

Now Las Vegas is home to an NFL team, which happens to be the one Woods grew up watching.

“They’re going to always be sold out whether it’s going to be Raiders fans there or whatever team comes in,” Woods said. “It’s a great place for people to put together a mini vacation and go watch their team play some football. I think it’s a great thing. The Raiders are a great fit.”

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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