For the past few weeks, Bengals fans have been treated to near daily tirades from the once-great beacon of hope in Cincinnati, Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson. And while I'm completely prepared to think about life after Chad at this point, a quick stroll down memory lane should demonstrate to Chad that Mike Brown is not one to get flustered by finicky, ego-centric stars of the gridiron.
Exhibits A and B: Carl Pickens and Corey Dillon. Both of these rising stars whined for years before they got out of Bengaldom--and in both cases, each one only got out of Cincy only when they were well beyond their prime. In Picken's case, Mike Brown actually initiated what has come to be known as the "Carl Pickens Clause," which allows the team to fine a player for insulting the organization in public. This might be familiar to fans in its most recent form, the famous "conduct detrimental to the team" clause which essentially allows teams to bitch-slap players who act up (see: Terrell Owens).
See a trend here? Mike Brown is not the type of guy who will fall over backwards to make sure his players have a warm and fuzzy feeling about the team. Quite the contrary, he literally wrote the book on methods to shut them up--legal methods! Chad should expect no better treatment, and should be prepared to play out the rest of his four-year contract wearing Black and Orange unless he plans to sit out. But, while we'd all like to issue a gag-clause on Chad and other cry-baby superstars, the fact that so many players have had problems with this organization is telling.
If I seem to be lacking a point in all this, I think it's because I'm conflicted. On the one hand, I respect Marvin Lewis' recent comments in which he basically said (paraphrasing here):
1. Chad has an opportunity to play pro football, and that opportunity is in Cincinnati.
2. If he doesn't want to play here, don't expect to play elsewhere in the NFL
3. If he chooses to sit out, the team will move on without him
On the other hand, you have to wonder why so many players have wanted out of Cincy, despite our lovely historic landmarks and strong German heritage. In the end, I think it all comes back to a culture of losing that Mike Brown has instilled in this franchise. Sure, an 11-5 season in 2005 can act as a brief smoke screen, but in the end, Mike Brown continues to create a culture of turmoil, uncertainty, and most of all, losing. Chad Johnson is just the latest in a long line of players who wanted out of Cincy, and until drastic changes are taken to make this a winning franchise, don't expect him to be the last. So, while we're with Chad on the fact that things need to change, for the time being, we'd like him to bring the focus back to the team and stop whining about himself.
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