As everybody now knows, former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson was arrested this past weekend for domestic violence, after he allegedly headbutted his wife during an argument. This was followed by his release from the Miami Dolphins, which was shown on Hard Knocks this week. I won’t pass any judgment here on whether he did or didn’t assault her, because there are people whose job that is, and I’m not one of them. I wanted to write this as an unbiased opinion on a man who played for my favorite team, and starred, for many years.
Johnson was drafted out of Oregon State University in the 2nd round of the 2001 NFL draft. He didn’t contribute a lot in his rookie season, but season two saw him break out with his first 1,000 yard total. The next season was a coming-out party, as he led the AFC in receiving, which he would do for a record four straight seasons, and he recorded a career high ten touchdowns. He also made his 1st Pro Bowl. His run would continue as he would tally six trips to the Pro Bowl overall and two All Pro honors. He is also the all-time leader in team history in receiving yards, catches, and receiving TDs. A few injuries, and a messy trade demand would mar his last few years in Cincinnati, and he was eventually traded to the New England Patriots, where he spent one ineffective season.
While Johnson became a star on the field, he also became notorious for antics both before and during games. In 2005, he kept a list of opposing cornerbacks who would be covering him, or who couldn’t cover him. He also became well-known for his endzone celebrations, some of which drew fines. Some memorable ones were his proposal to a Bengals cheerleader, his use of the pylon to putt the football, and of course, when he pulled out a sign reading “Dear NFL, please don’t fine me again” which, naturally, did draw a fine. He also received a fine for an incident where he pretended to bribe an official with a dollar bill while a catch was being reviewed. There were tons more as Chad continued to have fun, and fans loved him for it.