Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Read this column about Chad Johnson and my mighty Bengals.

From Paul Daugherty at the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Oh my.


Doc: There are no winners

Noted national sports scribe Chad Johnson has informed a breathless nation that his return to the Cincinnati Bengals is imminent.

In the latest edition of a national magazine, Johnson declares “I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid,’’ though that remains a matter of opinion. “I may come back to the Bengals as early as June,’’ he writes, ending the suspense that has been killing us like indigestion.

Come back, don’t come back. Play Hamlet in a Shakespeare festival. Juggle some balls at a circus. Whatever you do, bring your checkbook. Hamilton County would like to see you.

Since the end of last season, Johnson has owned more faces than Sybil. Maybe this latest face is as temporary as eyeliner, too. Whatever. If ever that one-word term of flip hipness described a situation, it’s this one. Chad’s coming back?

Whatever. Tell him to bring a construction company, to rebuild all the burned bridges.

Other players might have gotten advice as bad as Johnson has received from Drew Rosenhaus. None has gotten worse. Rosenhaus somehow didn’t figure Mike Brown to be resolute when dollars and sense were involved. That’s like Columbus sailing for America and hitting the beach at Ipanema.

Between them, Johnson and his agent squandered the goodwill of an entire fan base. Johnson fired on his quarterback, who spent many wasted minutes explaining/defending him. He went national with his misbegotten anger believing, I guess, that ESPN and the like would give him the exposure he craves like Big Macs.

He was exposed, all right. ESPN didn’t try to understand him, or help anyone understand who he was, where he came from or why he was behaving the way he was. ESPN just used him. He was good video.

So now, if Johnson comes back, he has gained nothing and lost things that are priceless. No doubt, Rosenhaus sold Chad on the notion that if he played out the rest of his Cincinnati contract – through 2010, with an option for 2011 – he’d be too old to get another bank-breaking deal.

No doubt, the agent filled his client’s head with the scary prospect of career-ending injury. Maybe, Chad was told his personality was too big for Cincinnati. A star such as Ocho Cinco demanded a larger stage.

Not sure what Rosenhaus told him. He doesn’t return phone calls. As befits a star, Chad’s cell phone message box was full today.

But really, all this national back and forth was about money. Johnson wasn’t happy all last year with his contract. When someone late last fall showed him USA Today’s annual player salary listings, and poked fun at him for being paid less than other wideouts of similar or lesser skills, Johnson became less pleased.

It’s the money. It’s always the money.

Specifically, it’s what the money represents. I’m a better player than you, why are you making more than me? The concept that newer deals are always going to be richer deals has eluded the five-time Pro Bowler and his agent. They played a high-stakes game of chicken, and by all appearances they lost.

But what have the Bengals won?

They can praise themselves for their resolve. They can say they avoided setting a precedent of unhappy players getting their way. Owners around the league think Mike Brown is a jolly good fellow for standing up to Rosenhaus.

All it cost the Bengals was, quite possibly, a season of harmony. The team can make it clear to Johnson that if he doesn’t repent, he’ll sit on the bench. The Bengals have cleared a path for that, with the draft and Marvin Lewis’ tough talk.

Coaches and teammates can urge Johnson to zip it, play great and let the chips fall. Everyone can (and will) try to put the happiest face possible on this. We know better.

Chad Johnson, always a narcissist, now will be a narcissist with a cause. And the Bengals are too cheap to hire a team shrink.

The Bengals should concern themselves with setting another precedent: Making the organization a place where players want to stay, not leave. Other owners are happy a line was drawn in the dollars. Now, they don’t have to. The Bengals should concern themselves with winning more games, not bearing standards. That’ll happen the day Johnson stops talking.

Meantime, Johnson believes this, according to his piece in the magazine:

“I am what some people would say is the face of Cincinnati.’’

Oh, my.

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