The League

Josh Kirkendall

Josh Kirkendall

Lead blogger for

A Team Distraction


For as long as I can remember, football has been characterized as a sport with a militaristic nature -- its heart dating back to the days of Paul Brown, and before. A player must be robotic in nature, a part of a team with a unified chemistry rather than an individual.

When players like Chad Ocho Cinco come along they undermine that allure - that ours is a sport played by teams and not just wide receivers. At the same time, the football played generations ago isn't the football played today. Too much has changed to keep those perceptions.

Most of us purists want players to score touchdowns, flip the football to the closest referee, offer a few high-fives, take a seat on the bench and sip on a tasty Gatorade. When players started expressing individualism, the league imposed penalties and fines. No Fun League.

Ranging from cheerleader marriage proposals, end zone putts and a flawless river dance, Johnson's antics have proven to be refreshing as well as entertaining. Guarantees, shipments of Pepto Bismol to an opposing secondary and racing a horse are a few examples of the good-natured entertainment Ocho Cinco brings. For many seasons, he was a breath of fresh air, a joy to watch and enjoyable enough to listen to during his locker room media sessions.

Relatively speaking, Ocho Cinco is not a major distraction - you won't see a story about him breaking the law or harming others. However, that's not to say he hasn't been distracting in his own right. His off season media campaign to get traded made him appear foolish, selfish and greedy. It distracted the Bengals and the league. Johnson was reportedly at the center of a fight that broke out during half time of the 2005 Wild Card game. The attention he brings has been a distraction to the Bengals locker room.

There are far more players in the league more distracting than Ocho Cinco. His flaw, if one can call it a flaw, is that he has an obsessive nature to bring attention to himself.

By Josh Kirkendall  |  June 22, 2009; 9:31 AM ET  | Category:  Cincinnati Bengals Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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