As the Cincinnati Bengals attempt to usher in a new era, they should look back to Chad Johnson to help them along the way.
The Cincinnati Bengals had quite the offseason. With the number one overall pick and plenty of cap space, they demanded the attention of the sports world. Along with the spotlight came intense criticism. Throughout it all, however, the Queen City had one of its all-time greats defending it along the way, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson.
No matter where you turned, there number 85 was, spreading positivity and love for his former employers. He made an appearance on the Bengals broadcast for the schedule reveal, he graced ESPN’s first-take in a Versace robe to take Stephen A. Smith head-on, and he even attempted to set up a workout with the wide receiver core and Joe Burrow over Twitter.
The simple truth is, he just makes the Bengals more fun. In some capacity, Cincinnati needs as much of Chad Johnson as they can get.
The love goes both ways
It’s not just Ocho that loves the Bengals, the admiration is a two-way highway. The organization sent Johnson a hand-written letter along with a box of cigars as a thank you for his support this offseason.
It’s no surprise the franchise took the time to reach out like this. A number of former players have had some negative things to say about the Bengals recently, namely Carson Palmer. Keeping in touch with one of the biggest fan favorites is a smart move and the right thing to do.
Where does Johnson fit in?
Most teams have a ring of honor to keep some of their all-time greats fresh in the minds of fans. The Bengals have yet to form something along those lines.
Instead, the Bengals should find another way to honor Johnson. The most logical path is to name him a team ambassador. Heck, they could hire him as the assistant wide receiver coach or make him the team mascot for all most fans care.
His presence alone would help on the field and off of it. He’s known for having some of the best footwork in the history of the NFL. He has valuable knowledge and experience to share with the current crop of receivers. Plus, his passion for the game and the organization is infectious. It would undoubtedly spread throughout the receiver unit and the rest of the team, for that matter.
From a cultural perspective it makes sense too. The Bengals are in the middle of re-branding. The social media team has stepped up their game in a big way this offseason. The team has placed Burrow in the center of everything it’s doing. They’re attempting to become a fun, fiery, competitive, and winning team.
Johnson fits that brand perfectly. He’s entertaining, he’s got the same kind of swagger as Burrow, and everywhere he goes, he draws the spotlight. With Burrow, Johnson, Joe Mixon, and others in the mix, they can capture the attention of the league.
It just makes sense. He doesn’t have to be around the team 24/7, but he should be around even more often than he has been in the past. Chad Johnson deserves to be around when the Bengals reach the kind of success they’ve desperately been searching for.