By STEVE WYCHE
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 10/26/06
Flowery Branch â€” Chad Johnson's scalp is at stake.
The loquacious Bengals receiver said that if Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall â€” "DeAngelo Fall," according to Johnson â€” gets the best of him and Atlanta wins Sunday's game in Cincinnati, he will shave off his blond Mohawk.
"You know how much that Mohawk means to me right now," Johnson said in a conference call Wednesday.
Surprisingly, the equally boisterous Hall, who has engaged in months of good-natured verbal jousting with Johnson since both played in the Pro Bowl last February, declined to engage in a war of words.
"He can do what he wants to do with his hair," said Hall, who leads the Falcons with four interceptions. "Our team is going to battle his team. He knows what kind of challenge he's laid out there. I don't need to talk about it."
If there are mind games being played, Hall might have made the first tactical strike. Since the spring, Johnson, who has 30 receptions for 373 yards and one touchdown, has targeted Hall as the one cornerback he has set his sights on. His boasting Wednesday was predictable.
Hall's lack of response was not.
"Is everybody sitting down?" Johnson asked at the outset of the call. "It's going down. I've been quiet all year. I haven't said a word. This is my week. From this point on, it's going down. The topic of the day is DeAngelo Fall. Take the 'H' out, put the 'F' in, because that's what it's going to be.
"I've been waiting on this, man. It's like Christmas for me. This had not been going well for me. It hasn't been a fast year. I'm having a decent year, but if any game I'm going to jump out and get back where I need to be, it's this one here, going against Mr. Fall.
"He claims himself to be the greatest defensive back since the old No. 21 [Deion Sanders] retired. So he's self-proclaiming himself the best defensive back in the game right now. I'm going to self-proclaim him out of that position when I'm done with him on Sunday."
Told of Johnson's remarks, Hall steadfastly refused to bite.
"It's game time, and the bottom line is you've got to see me," Hall said about his rationale for not firing back. "All your fancy one-liners and two-word jokes, they're all funny. They're good comedy. Everybody likes it. At the end of the day though, he has to be on the field with me and my teammates."
Johnson said Hall is going to need the backup.
"Whether they double me or triple me like everyone else is doing, this week Chad is back," Johnson said. "He'd better tell Lawyer Milloy to help. Tell Mr. [Chris] Crocker to help him. Whatever he has to do, it's going down.
"In pregame, I'm going to wear my jersey backwards so my name is on the front because that's all he's doing to see during the game, is my name, which means they will be looking at me from the back."
Johnson acknowledged that his jabs are all out of respect for Hall.
"On a serious note, he is very, very, very good, and he's worthy of being one of the best in the NFL," Johnson said. "He is. He has all the intangibles of being one of the best. Himself, Champ Bailey, Chris McAllister, there's not too many guys that can play that island coverage.
"Also, I'm one of the best in the league. In order for me to be one of the best, I have to embarrass one of the best. This Sunday, I'm going out to embarrass the best. He couldn't cover me in a phone booth, and you know how tight that is."