Friday, April 4, 2008

Chad Johnson: Catch Ocho-Cinco

The Roots are amazing. I defy you to find anything as fresh as this in music today.

Finally. I have a topic to be the basis of my first non-basketball post. I honestly thought it would be baseball, but whatever. So you can celebrate with me in a number of ways: the fist pump; head-butt the stadium wall; or hit yourself in the head with a tennis racket...I mean, it's your choice.

If you were watching the last five minutes of the 6 p.m. SportsCenter on April 2nd, you saw and heard the interesting, informational, and somewhat awkward (at least to Brian Kenny) interview with Chad Johnson. As you football fans know, there's an ever-growing rift between Ocho-Cinco and the Cincinnati Bengals organization. As you also know, the Bengals have other, more significant in-house issues they need to deal with; and for some reason, Johnson gets roped in as a problem of the same magnitude. The Bengals are a mess, and Johnson decided to voice his displeasure on the situation. He has noisily subliminally asked to be traded, which is commonplace in today's sports. Now, because of his opinion, he's being criticized for being obnoxious.

It's in this that I find fault with the media (again). Granted, Chad Johnson is loud, flashy, and isn't doing a lot to help out his team by making radio show rounds saying that he'll play Arena Football before he plays for the Bengals. We all know that's false—he's just frustrated. Chad Johnson will show up for the first mandatory team meeting, run his routes, and embarrass opposing defensive backs like always. But Chad Johnson has nothing to do with how many of his teammates end up in handcuffs. He's not in the draft room with the GM selecting players despite them having character issues. Did they not know that Chris Henry was teammates with Pacman Jones at WVU? That alone should be a concern; or maybe they could've considered the fact that Henry had to sit out a season in college for criminal charges—just like Pacman did...

Anyway, back to Ocho Cinco (seriously, it's "ochenta y cinco"). Chad Johnson is the second-best player on the Bengals, and one of the, "veteran leaders" of the team. So shouldn't he have the authority to express frustration with the direction his team is headed? One could argue that three seasons ago, Cincinnati was one chop-block away from a serious playoff run; and since then, their team has underachieved each season. Johnson, however, hasn't. He's maintained his production on the field, and continues to remain among the top pass-catchers in the league; so I seriously doubt he's been any sort of the problem. Some may argue his end-zone celebrations are a bit arrogant and unnecessary; but I continue to maintain—in order to have a touchdown celebration, you must score a touchdown. This means that you must produce on the field and impact the result on the scoreboard in order to celebrate afterwards. I've yet to see a "five-yard completion," celebration dance. Heaven forbid the man enjoys playing a sport most of us play for free. Football, at its root, is a game. You play games, but once you become a professional at a game, you are no longer allowed to celebrate. So, by this logic, I can celebrate winning a meaningless game of Madden (who want it?); but Chad Johnson can't celebrate a touchdown in real life? Whatever...

It's in this ongoing tug-of-war that #85 is torn. On one hand, the Bengals and NFL exploit his personality for the power of a dollar; but blast him for having an opinion. And on the other hand, if he were the complete opposite—and didn't care what happened to the franchise—he'd be chastised for not caring enough about the game and acting lackadaisical towards his profession. Either way, he loses. I side with him and would rather be myself and receive flack for that, then be a "company man" and receive the same amount of criticism.

While it's probably over for him in the 'Nati, Chad Johnson's not the reason for the dysfunction of the Bengals. If anything, he's someone they should have supported from Day One. So, when the day comes that he's on another team (come on 'Niners), we'll see how Carson Palmer feels about it.


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