Monday, March 9, 2009 | midnight
Few players—if any—experienced the kind meteoric rise that Elbert “Ickey” Woods had during his senior year with the Rebels. In one year, Woods went from college unknown to NFL sensation, gripping the sports world with his powerful running style and catchy dancing.
In his first three years with UNLV, Woods collected just 267 total yards and was regarded more as an underachiever than a star. Then he broke out.
During his senior season, Woods became the first Rebel to win a Division I rushing title, carrying the ball for 1,658 yards and 10 touchdowns. Three times he rushed for over 200 yards a game.
Woods then went on to get drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft. During his first NFL season, Woods exploded on the scene. He led the league with 5.3 rushing yards per carry, and the Bengals advanced to the Super Bowl as Woods racked up nearly 1,300 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.
As much success as Woods achieved on the field, most people remember him for his infamous endzone dance, properly named the “Ickey Shuffle.” During his touchdown celebration, Woods would bounce on one foot, then the other, spin his finger in the air and then spike the ball.
The endzone dance brought Woods into the spotlight, landing him on magazine covers and in TV commercials.
Just as quick as Woods rose to popularity, his fall may have come even faster. Injuries cut short his professional career as he battled knee injuries and never returned to the level of success he enjoyed during his rookie season. He lasted four seasons in the NFL before he had to call it quits.