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Josh Kirkendall
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Josh Kirkendall

Lead blogger for Cincyjungle.com

Ochocinco Bigger than Bengals

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When NFL spokesman Greg Aiello sent an email to Pro Football Talk stating that the league "prohibits the use of cell phones or other handheld devices in the bench area during games", Chad Ochocinco didn't react well on his Twitter page, saying, "Damn NFL and these rules. I am going by my own set of rules, I ain't hurting nobody or getting in trouble, I am putting my foot down!!" Technically, he's correct. The NFL is still hibernating in the offseason with less than three weeks before Bengals training camp kicks off. No individual is getting hurt. What about the team? What about three months from now?

If the league decides to change course and allow handheld devices on the bench during regular season games, it would be disastrous. Groups huddle by the bench to discuss what worked on the previous drive, brainstorming improvements, changes, and second-half philosophies while trying to ignore the distraction of beeps, zings, giggles and fingers slapping keys to quickly Tweet that "coach is really mad because so-and-so didn't get out of bounds during the two minute offense. Will update during warm ups."

Twittering on the bench, after a touchdown, or after a defensive end crushes a quarterback that stalls a drive, will have nothing to do with the team; it's glamorizing an individual on a stage that was once forbidden in the greatest sport in America. But that's the point here, isn't it? While it's still relatively new that players are opening up to fans through social messaging services like Twitter, the idea that one player is above the rest has never been acceptable with any fanbase in the NFL.

You will find few fans in the NFL that support Chad Ochocinco like Bengals fans do. We look past his celebrity and chatty sense of humor because we know what he can produce. Between 2003 and 2007, Ochocinco averaged 92 receptions, 1,374 yards receiving and nearly nine touchdowns a season. The prospect of Tweeting, or Twittering, during regular season games isn't going over well with Bengals fans, who are conservative folk that prize the bigger picture in sports by promoting team attitude and hard work. It takes a lot for a base of fans that's seen one winning season in the past 18 years to turn against a receiver that averages Pro Bowl numbers. Furthermore, the Bengals are in the middle of a critical offseason in which the offensive playbook is going through a restructuring phase and new personnel are being granted opportunities for the first time in their respective NFL careers.

If there's a time that Ochocinco needs to starting being apart of that team development and attitude, it has to be now. As long as Ochocinco keeps himself in the news and the public's mind for stuff like this, then he's well on way to promoting himself over the team... again. And that could be even a bigger disaster to Bengals fans.

By Josh Kirkendall  |  July 10, 2009; 10:56 AM ET  | Category:  Cincinnati Bengals , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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