Cincinnati Bengals: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
28 of 30
Chad 'Ochocinco' Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Chad 'Ochocinco' Johnson. 3. player. 56. . WR. (2001-10)

  • 6x Pro Bowl (2003-07, 2009)
  • 3x First-Team All-Pro (2004-06)
  • 1x Second-Team All-Pro (2003)
  • NFL receiving yards leader (2006)
  • Franchise leader in receptions (751), receiving yards (10,783), touchdowns (66)
  • Cincinnati Bengals 40th Anniversary Team

It was only a matter of time before Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson made the list. He was a lock to be in the top-five, but having him here at No. 3 just feels right. Johnson played 10 great years with the Bengals as their star wide receiver. He was explosive as a vertical threat and perhaps even more captivating in celebrating those catches.

Johnson only played one year of major college football at Oregon State, having gone the junior college route prior to his 2000 arrival in Corvallis. But that one year with the Beavers was legendary. He and future Bengals teammate T.J. Houshmandzadeh eviscerated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl.

This led to Johnson being a coveted second-round pick by the Bengals in the 2001 NFL Draft. While his rookie year in 2001 was nondescript, Johnson broke out in a big way as a sophomore in 2002. He went over 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career. Johnson did this seven times in Bengals uniform during a 10-year span.

He made his first of six trips to the Pro Bowl in 2003, earning second-team All-Pro honors. Johnson then entered his prime the next season in 2004 where he was named to his first of three-straight All-Pro first teams. In 2006, Johnson led the league in receiving yards with 1,369.

Johnson was at the tail-end of his prime when he decided to legally change his surname to a Spanglish version of his Bengals jersey number. Instead of going with ochenta y cinco, Johnson became “Ochocinco” and that’s what he went by for the next four seasons. Chad Ochocinco.

Ochocinco made one last Pro Bowl with the Bengals in 2009. He spent one last season with the Bengals in 2010 before being traded to the New England Patriots. No, Ochocinco’s year with the Patriots wasn’t great. He struggled to fit into Bill Belichick’s system and was out of the league a year later after failing to make the 2012 Miami Dolphins.

Regardless, Johnson is the Bengals’ all-time leader in receptions with 751, receiving yards with 10,873 and 66 touchdowns. Though he has been eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for a few years, Johnson is on the outside looking in. Odds are that he will one day gain Canton enshrinement. If not, he is one of the three greatest players in the history of the Bengals.