Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Chad Johnson/Ochocinco retrospective

Love him or hate him (and how can you not love him) Chad Johnson, known better as Ochocinco over the past two years, is an entertainer and man-child. He doesn't have the selfishness and meanspiritedness of Terrel Owens. He certainly doesn't have the all business approach of Marvin Harrison. Instead he falls somewhere in between. I like to think he plays the game as the average Joe would if they woke up one morning with the physical gifts to actually allow them to play in the NFL. In short, there is no player in the NLF - if all of sports - that has more fun that the Ocho.

I have loved him (leading us to the playoffs in '05 along with all those touchdown celebrations and basically putting Cincy on the map when he guaranteed a 3-5 Bengals team in Marvin's first year would topple the 9-0 Chiefs . . . and they did) and I have hated him (his pouting last year and trying to force a trade and his choice of an agaent, Drew Rosenhaus).

But this year he has been a model citizen. And it's no coincidence the Bengals are one win from the AFC North title and possibly the second seed in the AFC. He has still been the showman (donning the sombraro and poncho last week), but he has exhibited a more caring side (he was the first to embrace Bengals' defensive coordinator after the Bengals upset the Ravens in Baltimore just a few days after Zimmer unexpectedly lost his wife).

Here is a look back at some of his best moments.

His first plea to the NFL not to fine him. Chad, then still Johnson, was just starting to make a name for himself.

How Johnson has changed the perception of the Bengals. This was when they opened the season on Monday Night Football with a win over the Ravens. Remember, it was a good 12 years that the Bengals went without being on MNF. With Johnson, they were opening the season on MNF!

Now the Hall of Fame? I don't know about that. He is the only guy in league history to lead his conference in receiving three consecutive years ('04-'06). But the argument for the Hall is "was the guy the most dominant player at his position for a significant span of his career?"

I don't know about that.

There have been some games when Chad simply dominated. In '04 on the Bengals first MNF game he absolutely schooled Champ Bailey as the Bengals beat the Broncos. Then he dominated the Chargers in '06 with well over 200 yards receiving. He did it again against the Saints two weeks later when he went for three scores and over 200 yards. It is one of the top five all-time yardage sequences in league history.

But did he dominate a game like Jerry Rice or Michael Irvin? No.

If Chris Carter is not in the Hall, what chance does Ocho have?

When Johnson raced a horse. Who else would think of such a stunt? All of this self-promotion will likely turn off Hall voters. But he was fun to watch. That's for sure.

The side of Chad few see - here he is running one of his youth football camps.

His Tiger Woods impression in 2005.

The classic River Dance when he scored his first TD against the Bears in '05. How potent was that passing attack? Well, all year that Bears defense gave up only 3 passing plays over 20 yards . . . and they all game from the Bengals in this game!

And this is how it all began . . . Chad meeting Marvin's first draft choice, some kid named Carson Palmer.

Leaping into the Dawg Pound in Cleveland.

Chad manning the camera after a TD against the Titans in '07.

A Jack of All Trades? Here Johnson kicks the decisive point in a pre-season game against the Pats.

Beating the Steelers this year in Pittsburgh. How sweet it is!

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