Why Chad Johnson's NFL Career Is Not over
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Veteran wide receiver Chad Johnson made headlines for all the wrong reasons over the past week, but he has not played his last down of football.
Johnson was arrested on misdemeanor domestic abuse charges for allegedly head-butting his wife, reality telvision star Evelyn Lozada, on Saturday night. As a result, the Miami Dolphins cut ties with the wideout just a day later, reports Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald.
Without question, the pass-catcher formerly known as Chad "Ochocinco" has hurt his chances of ever getting another job with an NFL team. Yet if his legal issues are sorted out, he will get another opportunity somewhere.
Last season, it was the decorated route-runner's inability to pick up the New England Patriots' offense. He finished with just 15 catches for 276 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots no longer had a use for him, and he was released on June 7.
This year, the matter was completely different. It was how Johnson conducted himself off the field that made his stay with the Dolphins so short.
Aside from his arrest, Johnson was back to his old antics. When he first met with the media during Dolphins training camp, he spit out several profanities which did not please head coach Joe Philbin, according to Yahoo.com's Doug Farrar.
Johnson must reassess his behavior and begin acting like the 34-year-old man that he is. Because of the severe heat he's been under lately, he has no other choice but to mature.
Love him or hate him, the 2001 second-round draft pick is a gifted football player. During his time with the Cincinnati Bengals, Johnson was voted to six Pro Bowls and named an All-Pro twice. In his 11 NFL seasons, he's hit the 1,000-yard receiving mark seven times and racked up 67 touchdowns.
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Not so long ago, Johnson was considered a viable option in the passing attack.
In 2010, the 6'1", 192-pound target produced 67 receptions, 831 yards and four scores for the Bengals. The prior season, Johnson helped the Bengals get to the playoffs by notching another 1,000-yard campaign with nine touchdowns.
Yes, Johnson's skills have diminished some, although not as much as one would expect. On August 1, ESPN.com's AFC East blogger James Walker analyzed what he saw from Johnson at Dolphins training camp:
But the Johnson I've seen in minicamp and training camp has been impressive. He's sharp out of his cuts, getting open and catching the football well. It also appears Johnson is having fun again, which wasn't always the case in New England's stuffy football environment.
He can still play football at a higher level than most NFL talents. But the fact is, most teams would rather use a soft-spoken, less notable receiver because they won't cause a distraction.
That being said, some teams like taking a risk.
This offseason, aging receivers with "character issues" like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens signed contracts after failing to play a down in 2011. With that in mind, it wouldn't be a surprise to see a team take a chance on Johnson.
Yet in order for Chad Johnson to enjoy success in the NFL again, he must find a happy medium between his persona and his performance. Based on all the adversity he's encountered over the last few days, the world may soon see a reinvented football player, and more importantly, a reinvented person.
After all, no one would want to go out like this.
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