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First, there is the quick and deadly linebacker that running backs find in their paths as they cross the line of scrimmage. "He was the only guy I ever saw knock Tony Dorsett cold," says Johnny Majors, Johnson's head coach at Pitt. "He did it as a freshman during a scrimmage in a half-line drill. A straight shot. He hit him like a rattlesnake."
Dorsett remembers a lot of Johnson's strikes. "Cecil's favorite was the head slap," he says. "Sometimes after practice his hand would be so sore from those slaps that somebody would have to help him get undressed. But he'd be out there the next day—whap! whap!"
"The explosion Cecil could put into a hit amazed me," Sherrill says. But Sherrill wasn't surprised that Johnson went undrafted by the pros. "He hadn't the size that pro teams like in linebackers," he says. "And no team can measure a heart."
Then there is plain-clothes Cecil, the friendly, down-home baby of the family, a guy who is soft-spoken and extraordinarily cordial. He has the look of a drowsy alligator. He wears a squashed Afro with tendrils escaping in kind of a fuzzy halo. And he appears to have dressed himself in the dark. His suburban Tampa split-level bachelor pad is replete with two waterbeds, seven color TVs, five stereos, 26 speakers and a Jacuzzi. His bedroom is mirrored on the ceiling and three walls. On the fourth wall is a phosphorescent painting that purports to be of a tropical sunset, but looks more like the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust.
Johnson's teammates congregate daily at this pleasure palace. The players sit around and watch tapes of horror movies; sometimes there are two films going at once on Johnson's enormous video consoles. His collection runs the gamut from Frankenstein to My Bloody Valentine. He's especially fond of Dracula. "Dracula's my main man," says Johnson. "I've got about every film he's been in. He's all right with womenfolk. I like the way he sneaks around, plus he comes out at night."
Johnson says he uses the films to prep for teams like the Raiders. "There are some real monsters on the Raiders," he says. "They're large. They're very large. Their guards are such big crabs that I can't see who they've got in the back-field. I wish I could; I'm probably missing a good game of football."
Johnson acts like an older brother to some of the rookies. "My mother always told me that if you think as much for others as you think for yourself, you'll never have to take care of yourself." He often lends the younger Bucs cars from his collection. He's got matching Mercedes, contrasting Cadillacs, a Lincoln, a Rolls and a Buick. "I started buying them when I joined the Bucs," he says, "And I didn't know when to stop."
There is also the brash, stinging Cecil of the clubhouse, the master of deadpan humor who can lace the mouths of his Tampa Bay teammates shut with strings of one-liners.
"I'm an equal opportunity needler," Johnson says. "I get them if they're black, white, poor, rich, linemen, free safeties, rookies or holdouts."
Johnson has given everyone nicknames. He calls the big-footed Logan "Sasquatch." Offensive Guard Ray Snell is "Martian." "He must be one," Johnson insists. "He's black and got green eyes. They sent him down on some mission. Got to dye his eyes." Then there are the "faces"—Moon-Crater Face and Barney Rubble Face. Johnson calls 6'3", 260-pound Offensive Guard Eugene Sanders, whose hair, he says, stands on end, "Godzilla." Not Godzilla Face? "Hell, no," says Johnson emphatically. "You see how big he is? I call him Godzilla straight up. There ain't no face in it."