Chad Ochocinco: New England Patriots Receiver Drawing Attention at Super Bowl

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Chad Ochocinco: New England Patriots Receiver Drawing Attention at Super Bowl
Michael Heiman/Getty Images

First place in the New England Patriots' Super Bowl attention derby goes to Rob Gronkowski and some ankle ligaments. No contest.

Second place, however, may go to Chad Ochocinco.

Ochocinco has been the subject of more plotlines than he has catches (15, in case you're wondering). Will he be active? Will he play? Will he have a catch? Is he the "secret weapon"? Will he play more if Gronk can't go? Is he still on board with his role? Does he have a future in New England?

Ay, caramba. A player who's been buried on the depth chart all season has had his story resurrected by the intense spotlight of the Super Bowl.

A mere couple of years ago, the idea of Ochocinco being a draw at media day would have made perfect sense. He was as bright a star as they come, football's most endearing personality since Deion Sanders. He was a six-time Pro Bowler, and he knew it. He wanted you to know it, too.

Media day, where soundbites are created at a dizzying rate, would have been an Ochocinco heaven, the stage he was born for. But he isn't in demand for his past, but for his present.

Ochocinco is still a gravitating presence, the most magnetic on the Patriots. It's hard for him to toe the company line of banal responses because his tone, while subdued, leads the listener to think there's so much beyond the words he's saying.

It's an overused description, but the word "enigma" fits Ochocinco perfectly. It's hard to get a grasp on what he's saying and what he means, but rather than say nothing and disguise it as something, Ocho does the opposite. He implies a lot, but disguises it as something simple.

Listening to Ochocinco can be like listening to an iceberg. There's only a little bit that he tells you, and plenty you have to figure out on your own.

Take his media day showing, for example. Ochocinco came across as the humbled star, saying, "I'm learning, experiencing, becoming a sponge and learning the Patriot way."

Sounds like he's at peace, right? But then, there was his interview with the Associated Press where he admitted this year was a struggle at times.

"I'm happy, but the competitive side of me is (angry)," he said. "I didn't do what people thought I would do. Even I thought I was going to do it."

That's the way it is with Ocho. He rarely talks to the media, and when he does, it's difficult to pinpoint his feelings.

That doesn't mean he's lost his signature demeanor. When asked by WBZ's Steve Burton, a regular around the team, his opinion on people calling him out for his lack of production, Ochocinco didn't back down.

"What people?" he shot back. "What do the media know? What do the fans know?...They don't know what's going on behind closed doors. Nobody does."

That's the way it is with Ocho. His reflective thoughtful answers draw you in and keep you there, and his eagerness to respond with wit and flavor keep you coming back.

Because of that, people want to make him a story. Because of the stories, people want him to go off on the field. There's still one game remaining. Ochocinco could have that day everyone's been waiting for. He could catch eight passes for 120 yards. He could score once or twice. He could catch the winning touchdown in the final minute.

But whether he does or doesn't, the interest will be there. That'll never go away.

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