We get our first glimpse of the Bengal rookie class today and it’s an exciting time for fans, coaches, and players alike. The important thing for these guys to remember is the feeling and attitudes they have right now, before the possible trappings of fame and fortune hit like a reality show slap in the face.
This isn’t a reminder of the obvious things to avoid like putting your money in clothing lines and restaurants or having an entourage of hangers-on who drain your assets quicker than Uncle Sam.
It’s a heads up to never forget who you are, and how you got here. There is no greater example in Bengal history of losing yourself than Chad Johnson. This guy came out of nowhere and he was explosive. There were stories of him sleeping at the team facility and speaking to Marvin Lewis of his desire to be the next Jerry Rice. He and Carson Palmer once took a road trip to Indianapolis together to see Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison play to get an idea of how it is done to perfection. Then it hit.
The 2005 season the Bengals finally had a good team. They ended a fifteen year playoff drought and became the darlings of the NFL. Interviews, having their games moved from 1pm to 4pm. This was an up and coming team. Then something hit, and it wasn’t just Kimo Von Oelhoffen’s helmet into Palmer’s knee. It was ego.
Legend has it that Chad took a swing at a coach during the halftime of the playoff game. The season was lost and in hindsight, so was the team. Other players grew tired of the special attention and his lack of work ethic. The once promising team crumbled. Chad went on to become a social media star and changed his name to Ochocinco and was last seen in a Massachusetts airport. Other guys wilted and quit football. The team fell apart.