|Bengals' Johnson debuts at Seattle, revisits Russell, whose hit still rings|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 19 September 2007 14:30|
Last September, Russell, then with Cleveland, drilled the Bengals' verbose receiver into an incoherent daze with a shoulder pad into his chin on an overthrown pass late in Cincinnati's blowout win. The hit ripped off Johnson's helmet, split open his chin and left him disoriented as he tried to talk after the game.
When asked about the play, Johnson mumbled out, ``I don't know. I can't remember.''
Since then, there's been some worldwide revelry in Johnson getting clocked - at least by one of today's standards for what's hot. A recording of the interview had been viewed 264,000 times on an Internet broadcast site as of Wednesday.
``That's not the only time I've hit him, either,'' Russell said Wednesday. ``But that's the one everybody remembers.''
Now Russell is a starting safety with the Seahawks. They host Johnson and Cincinnati on Sunday.
Oh, yes, Johnson remembers Russell. But the self-proclaimed future Hall of Famer has no hard feelings.
``I would have taken the shot on me if I was him, too, all the trash that I talk. It's about time somebody caught me clean,'' Johnson said in a telephone interview.
Russell was not penalized for the hit, though Browns receiver Braylon Edwards later questioned the need for his teammate's shot.
``That was handled internally, in the locker room - and very quickly. I'll leave it at that,'' Russell said when asked if Edwards' criticism bothered him.
Russell says Johnson is ``not good, but great at what he does ... one of the best, if not the best.''
And Johnson still respects the hit.
``I think I was knocked out. That's the only time I've really been hit - ever,'' he said. ``Since I've been in the league, I've been able to dodge - let me knock on wood - I've been able to dodge most everything.''
Except notoriety. Johnson seeks that.
Two weeks ago, he donned a replica yellow Hall of Fame blazer on the sideline after scoring. Last week, he jumped into Cleveland's ``Dawg Pound.''
``Actually, they embraced me, other than that one person that was drunk,'' and threw beer on him, Johnson said.
What about that Bengals cheerleader to whom he once proposed while on one knee after a touchdown?
``Man, she took half of everything I had. I should've never done that,'' Johnson said.
``Why are you laughing? I'm serious.''
He hinted cheerleaders may again be involved Sunday, his first game at Qwest Field.
``You know what would be a good celebration?'' Johnson said. ``To do something using the cheerleaders in Seattle, like just walk up and just kiss one. Just do it. I can't get fined for kissing, right?
``No, I'm just playing. Trust me, it will be something good.''
Opponents say Johnson is always laughing. It's the way he seems to have separated himself as the good guy compared to the pre-eminent look-at-me receiver. That guy named Owens.
Russell said Johnson actually gives respect to opponents as he talks.
``I don't think it's anything malicious,'' Russell said. ``He talks, and he enjoys the game.''
Johnson sees the difference between him and Owens, and likes it.
``I don't know where Terrell went wrong with how he stepped on people or rubbed people the wrong way,'' Johnson said. ``I came in the league with this fun and playful nature about the way I approach the game. But at the same time, I've been very productive in doing everything the right way.''
Johnson leads the NFL with 304 yards receiving through two games. He is the first player since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to lead a conference four consecutive times in that category.
Last week, the seventh-year veteran passed Isaac Curtis to become Cincinnati's leader in yards receiving with 7,229. Johnson is 49 catches from the Bengals' record for career receptions of 530 held by Carl Pickens.
``I'm not going to lie, God has made me close to perfect. But the one thing he missed was my blocking,'' the 6-foot-1, 192-pound Johnson said.
Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said he likes Johnson, finds him ``cordial.''
``I'm not a big fan of all that other stuff, though. I wouldn't like our guys to do it,'' the traditionalist coach said after meeting with his players to remind them not to talk Sunday, just play. ``It's not the No Fun League and all that other stuff. To me, I'm preaching unselfishness all the time.''
Johnson said his coach, Marvin Lewis, has ``nothing to say to me. I show up to work at one o'clock every day on Sundays and play ball.''
Lewis liked that one.
``Never talk to him? You believe everything he says?'' Lewis said, incredulously. ``I do talk to him - a lot.
``How do you rein him in? Do we tell him not to score touchdowns? If he's doing it when he scores a touchdown, as long as he does it on the field of play ... if he does it off the field of play, that's an issue he has with the NFL.
``He has never done a thing that has caused us a penalty.''