Ochocinco’s unforgivable offense
It began with a gamble.
It cost Miami virtually nothing to sign Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson. $925,000 was the perfect low risk, high reward bet Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland and rookie head coach Joe Philbin were willing to take on a talented receiver who fell way short of expectations in New England.
In the offseason, Chad Ochocinco took a gamble on himself. The life-long bachelor married gal pal and Basketball Wives star Evelyn Lozada. He nixed his Ochocinco surname, swapping back the old Johnson in hopes of re-gaining Pro Bowl caliber form from his productive days in Cincinnati.
He pleaded for the NFL’s forgiveness, promising to give more of himself to the game after a lackluster season in Foxboro. On his way down to Miami, he pointed fingers north, blaming the Patriots for controlling his personality and crippling his production in 2011.
For a while, it seemed as though the savvy, Liberty City kid was back in his element, playing for the hometown team with a new life and a fresh slate.
But on Saturday night, the business alliance of Johnson-Lozada LLC., as well as Chad’s brief partnership with the Miami Dolphins came to a sudden and very abrupt halt. Johnson was arrested on domestic battery charges for allegedly headbutting Lozada during an altercation.
It took the Dolphins less than 24 hours to terminate his contract, and it may take him years to find a new gig in the NFL — if ever.
The league has seen a long list of offseason arrests, but none quite as shocking, and out of character as this one. Unfortunately the six-time Pro Bowler — a player who has never once been arrested in his NFL career — could be out of a job this season because of it.
The man who creates counterfeit friendships with his Internet following has now made enemies with the same fanbase that brought him fame.
The man who was recognized by many as the most influential athlete in social media, a self-proclaimed marketing genius who even branded his name into a news network, is now caught in the middle of a media firestorm, testing the limits of his own reality.
The man who wrote letters to his ‘father’—not the one who passed away in January—but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, promising to revert back to his old days of fine-worthy touchdown celebrations and on-field antics. Certainly, “Dad” will spare no offense when a punishment is laid down to Johnson by the league.
It’s Philbin’s inaugural season, and the Dolphins are rebuilding their locker room with obedient personalities, as evident by their move to ship problem child Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears in the offseason. For the small chance he took on Johnson, it was a statement move to cut him immediately.
Chad Ochocinco didn’t stick in New England, and Chad Johnson couldn’t made it through Miami’s training camp. He’ll never have the chance to show fans in the AFC East if he still has his straight-line speed. He won’t make it to December duals with the Patriots, and show the fans in New England this team had it all wrong.
His career in Miami ended the same way it dropped off New England. On a third-and-4 play during the Dolphins preseason opener, No. 85 ran a short route, and watched the ball slip right through his fingertips. It’s not like we haven’t seen it before. Chad hauled in only 15 catches in New England.
The 34-year old receiver cannot escape the facts: 207 receptions as Ochocinco, 559 as a Johnson, and still not one catch in his new skin.
Trust takes years to build and seconds to break. Chad Johnson might have gambled away the little opportunity that was left of his career for good.