There was a time when Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson was one of the premier wide receivers in the NFL. This one-time Cincinnati Bengal and six-time Pro Bowl selection played professionally through the 2011 season and was preparing to join the Miami Dolphins in 2012 when his situation suddenly changed.
Johnson was arrested for domestic battery and pleaded no contest to charges that he head-butted his wife—reality star Evelyn Lozada—during an argument in their Davie, Florida home last August. Needless to say, his marriage ended after only 11 months. And that wasn’t even the worst of it.
Miami immediately dropped him and for all intents and purposes, ended his professional football career. It should come as no surprise that teams weren’t beating the door down to sign him after (a) he was charged with this crime and (b) his reputation as a loud mouth preceded him.
And based on what happened recently, Johnson will be lucky if he ever plays again, at least on a professional level. Dancing with the Stars may still be an option, though.
Despite Judge Kathleen McHugh withholding adjudication for Johnson after his battery charge—which basically meant his record would remain clear as long as he stayed out of trouble—an arrest warrant was issued on May 7 after she learned he had not reported to his probation officer for three months. Johnson was forced to spend several hours in jail and had to post $1000 bond to remain free until yesterday’s hearing.
Unfortunately, that’s when things got even worse for him.
Johnson and his attorneys worked out a plea deal that would prevent the shamed player from spending any more time in jail. Seconds away from having it approved by Judge McHugh, though, Johnson’s behavior again got him into trouble.
McHugh complimented Johnson’s lawyer and in true football fashion, Johnson congratulated him with a pat on the butt. This angered McHugh, who immediately “called him out” on it.
“Mr. Johnson, I don’t know that you’re taking this whole thing seriously,” she told him. “I’m not going to accept these plea negotiations. This isn’t a joke.”
Johnson tried in vain to apologize, but there was no changing the judge’s mind. He had no choice but to plead guilty to violating his probation without a deal, which means he will spend the next month in jail and will have his probation extended for another three months (from September 21 to December 21).
In addition to these penalties, Johnson must also complete 25 hours of community service and attend two counseling sessions each week. After hearing his punishment, Johnson was handcuffed and taken into custody. His 30-day stint in the Broward County Jail is scheduled to begin immediately.
I suppose it is possible for Johnson to someday return to the NFL, although I can think of no team willing to waste time or money on a 35-year-old “problem child” whose football skills were waning before he even got into legal trouble. If anything, his NFL future will exist behind a desk as a commentator, if he can even get that job after all this nonsense.
It is heartbreaking when a great player leaves the field due to injury, military deployment or some other legitimate reason. But when the reason is the player himself—especially a player who could have accomplished so much—it becomes something more: a waste.
Chad Johnson could have been great and could have served as an inspiration for kids, fans and players everywhere. Instead, he will be remembered as yet another “superstar” whose criminal behavior undermined the very things he spent his life cultivating: athletic skill and nearly unlimited potential.
I hope thirty days behind bars will be enough to put Ochocinco back on the right path. Only time will tell, though…
Posted on June 11, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged Chad Johnson, Cincinnati Bengal, commentary, Crime and Justice, current-events, Football, National Football League, news, NFL, perspectives, sports. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.