I, for one, was happy to see that the NFL didn’t let the receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson wear “Ocho Cinco” on his jersey yesterday.


Ocho Cinco played yesterday’s game with a “C. Johnson” nameplate on his uniform, just like he has the past seven seasons.

In a statement released by Ocho Cinco’s team, the Cincinnati Bengals, the NFL said it wouldn’t allow the jersey name change and would continue to list the receiver as Chad Johnson on the official stats because “certain issues remain to be resolved.”

The NFL didn’t explain why it wouldn’t allow the switch, but I’m happy to list mine here.

Johnson legally changed his last name to his nickname, Ocho Cinco, in the hopes of creating buzz and furthering his own celebrity. It was a move made with purely individual goals in mind.

Call me old fashioned, but when I watch a team sport, I’m watching for the team.

We live in a post-Michael Jordan era, a time when the superstars draw more attention than the teams they play on. Ocho Cinco is a five-time Pro Bowler, but a player should achieve superstar status solely by their actions on the field, not their brash comments to the media.

Remember, this is the same player that has been fined by the NFL several times for ridiculous touchdown celebrations, including one in which he mocked the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This is the same guy who said he could beat Michael Phelps in a swimming race during the Olympics last month.

This is the same wide receiver who threatened to sit out the 2008 season unless he was traded over the summer because his team wasn’t supporting him.

Having followed Ocho Cinco’s exploits since his breakout 2005 season, it’s clear to me that Johnson only cares about himself and his image. Allowing him to put “Ocho Cinco” on the back of his jersey was only going to further separate him from the Bengals.

Now I’ve never played competitive football and I’ve never met Chad Ocho Cinco, but it I’m pretty sure no one would have heard of him without the rest of his team.

I’d like to see Johnson make it to the endzone for another celebration playing 1-on-11. It wouldn’t happen. But by the way Ocho Cinco acts, you get the feeling he thinks he could do it all on his own if he had the chance.

The NFL has taken a lot of heat in the past couple of years, especially under new commissioner Roger Goodell, for being the “No Fun League.”

Maybe that’s true. The NFL probably isn’t as fun as it was just six years ago, when Terrell Owens was pulling Sharpies out of his sock and dancing with pom poms after touchdowns. (Remember that TO got an endorsement deal with Sharpie out of that. Try arguing that it’s just for fun and not about money now.)

There’s no question it’s hard for a football player to market himself for endorsement deals. It’s hard to know what most football players look like because they always wear helmets.

But there’s a right way to market yourself and a wrong way.

The right way is by playing so well that people have to take notice. Those players get just as many endorsements, if not more, than anyone else. Just look at Donovan McNabb and all those soup commercials.

The wrong way is pulling ridiculous stunts to get more attention.

Most of us learn that acting out will only get us in trouble by the time we reach third grade. It’s nice to see that Goodell and the NFL are making sure that characters like Johnson are finally getting the memo.

But based on his performance yesterday, maybe it’s just that Ocho Cinco doesn’t play at his best wearing a jersey with his family name. He was practically invisible in the Bengals loss at Baltimore, registering just one reception for 22 yards.

If his jersey had Ocho Cinco on the back, I’m sure “Johnson” would have gone for 200 yards and three touchdowns.

— Sandals can be reached at nsandals@umich.edu.

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