The Ocho Cinco Saga Gets Uglier

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: April 18, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — The soap opera around five-time Pro Bowl receiver Chad Johnson and the Bengals went into hyper space Tuesday as Johnson (559 receptions for 8,365 yards and 49 TDs for his career) had some interesting comments with ESPN’s John Clayton about the situation.

The loquacious receiver said, “I want to be traded before the draft, and if that doesn’t happen, I want to be traded as soon as possible. I don’t intend on reporting to anything.”

Johnson’s comments further exacerbated a bad situation already hanging by a thread after Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer said that Johnson indicated he would be at the team’s mandatory mini camp in June (i.e. The strong armed quarterback “expects” his star receiver there).

The former 2001 first round selection retorted in his interview with the Professor “I don’t know where he got that. I made no assertion to Carson that I would do that.”

“Nothing has changed from what I’ve been saying for three months that I don’t want to play for the Bengals.” The unhappy receiver ended that subject by simply saying in regard to Palmer, “I wish he would stay out of my business.”

As someone that covered and lived through the 2005 Terrell Owens/Eagles feud that led to a fractured team and a 6-10 season, I have some strong advice for the Cincinnati Bengals and Head Coach Marvin Lewis — cut ties now, because it will only get worse.

I know biting the bullet and trading the Pro Bowl type receiver maybe giving into the prima donna me-me-me player, but for the chemistry of the team and Lewis, who is on a very hot seat, before Johnson is doing situps on his lawn everyone will have to accept that this relationship is unfixable.

The similarities with the ’05 Owens situation and Johnson’s current mess are eerie as both had tenuous quarterback-receiver relationship at best, Drew “next question” Rosenhaus is the selfish receiver’s agent, and the me-first receiver is trying to talk his way out of town by being a distraction plus threatening to be a holdout for all team activities.

Lewis and the Brown family have said all along that Johnson will be in a Bengals uniform or nothing else come this fall, but it is easy for both sides to talk tough in April. I am sure the fun will start this July when training camp opens and the practices are mandatory and the fines pile up.

The Bengals precarious standing with the Cincinnati community due to repeated off the field incidents including recently departed trouble receiver Chris Henry, I know will also factor into this situation.

But after a high of winning the 2005 AFC North title, the Bengals have limped home to two straight non-playoff seasons including a 7-9 record last year.

Losing Johnson and his 90 plus catch average over the last five years will hurt, but history has shown malcontent receivers are a cancer to a team.

Other than bad boy Andre Rison checking his ego to win a ring with the Packers in 1996, I cannot name a non-team receiver that helped his team win the Super Bowl.

Now is the time for Johnson and his antics that take away from the team– Did anyone really like the presumptive “Future H.O.F” prank other than Ocho Stinko — to move to another town.

After watching the Raiders only getting a fourth rounder for Randy Moss in 2007, the Bengals can only hope for the best.

However keeping Johnson on the roster is a bad decision that is sure to blow up a team that is struggling to find their identity.

As for the legions of receiver starved Philadelphia Eagles fans that think Johnson is the answer, I can only say don’t let history repeat itself and this guy is not for Philly or Head Coach Andy Reid.