Photo: Haley Bollinger

Bootsy Collins will make his first start since 2019 when the Cincinnati Bengals play against the Baltimore Ravens on January 15th.

Pretty much the entire city is pumped for another Bengals playoff run, and there’s only one person who could be the unofficial grand marshal of Cincinnati’s celebration: Bootsy Collins. As part of the festivities, Collins will perform during Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens show break on January 15.

First, though, he pays tribute to Elbert L. “Icky” Woods and the tremendous sportsmanship that the Bengals and Cincinnatians display every week.

Long before the Bengals hit the net in the end zone, one very important and beloved Bengal performed a celebration dance that will never be forgotten.

Woods was a fullback for the Bengals from 1998 to 1991, and early in his career he promised his mom he would dance if he scored a touchdown. True to his word, when Woods scored a field goal against the New York Jets on October 10, 1988, he danced to celebrate. After taking heat for excessively simple dance, he embellished it, added a few more steps and “premiered” the official Ickey Shuffle in the next game.

In response to the dance, the NFL enacted an “excessive celebration” rule, but it was too late. After that 1988 dance, the Ickey Shuffle became part of the sport and pop culture. Woods said most of the money he made from performing and dancing went directly to his Giovante Woods Foundation, which helps asthma research.

Of course, Woods already had a dance. But the legendary Bengal badly needed a song. And thanks to Collins, he finally has.

Collins announced the release of his song “The Ickey Shuffle” on January 13th. According to a press release, the song is “a tribute and unifying statement to encourage sportsmanship, funk and peace.” The accompanying video features Collins, his son, Wivy Collins, Ben Gals, and of course, Woods.

Back in October, on his 71st birthday, Collins has announced that he is putting together an upcoming collaborative compilation project titled Funk, not wrestling. The album brings together the talents of up-and-coming artists, whose music will be played alongside Collins’ own funky contributions. According to a press release, the album will also feature Lettuce, Buckethead, Zapp, Triggy, Syleena Johnson, Tommy Davidson, Hi-Tek, Deanna Brown, G7, Michael Dyson, Steve Lacy and more.

The funk doesn’t stop at the music video. Collins will perform at Paycor Stadium at halftime during the Bengals’ playoff game against the Ravens on Jan. 15. The performance was originally scheduled to take place during that fateful Buffalo Bills game on Jan. 2 when Bills player Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in cardiac arrest.

Now, however, Collins’ first appearance on the stage since 2019 will be even bigger and more special than before as fans celebrate a return to the playoffs and great news on Hamlin’s recovery.

There’s a lot to celebrate in the jungle this week, Bengals. Start practicing the Ickey Shuffle game and your singing Who Dey!

Watch the music video for “The Ickey Shuffle”:

CityBeat writer Sean M. Peters contributed to this story.

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