Chad: Who Has my back?

By Mark Curnutte
Updated: January 12, 2008

CINCINNATI — The Chad Johnson trade-me-if-I’m-the-problem tour of sports radio hit the ground running Friday morning with his appearance on ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning.

Asked what’s going to happen in the future with the Bengals, the wide receiver said, “I’m not sure what’s going to happen. … I’ve been labeled as selfish, as the reason we’re losing. I’ve been told I’ve been a cancer to my team.”

Johnson’s campaign, anticipated as he grew more sullen during the season, is believed to be orchestrated by agent Drew Rosenhaus in an effort to get Johnson a new contract with another team.

A message left Friday on Johnson’s cell phone was not returned.

The Bengals finished 7-9. At midseason, when the team slumped to a 2-6 start, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that the Bengals had discussed the possibility of trading Johnson. Johnson did not speak to the Cincinnati-based media for the remainder of the season.

Head coach Marvin Lewis and team president Mike Brown, in an early November interview requested by The Enquirer, both said the team would not trade Johnson and that his contributions were valued.

“Chad Johnson is a tremendous football player,” Brown said in November. “We’re glad he’s here. He is an integral part of what we do. And he isn’t going anywhere.”

Johnson is under contract through 2011 with the Bengals. He signed a $35.5 million extension in April 2006.

Johnson, on Friday morning on ESPN radio, went on to say that if he is indeed a cancer, “then the team would need to get chemo. If I am a problem, the problem needs to be dealt with.”

Johnson said Friday morning that he was hurt because no one within the organization came to his defense.

“To do me the way I was done, not too many people really having my back within,” he said.

Johnson finished with a single-season franchise record 1,440 receiving yards. He has six consecutive seasons with 1,000 receiving yards.

“Now the season is over,” Johnson said on ESPN radio. “I was the problem, I have been a distraction. Chad Johnson, the fingers were pointed at me. My celebrations, all this stuff was the reason we were losing.

“The only thing for me to do or say now is, if you guys, as a team and organization, want to further yourself in the playoffs, I think you need to get rid of what the problem was during the season.”

The Bengals late Friday declined to comment on Johnson’s radio interview, Bengals spokesman Jack Brennan said.