Bengals do not need Johnson - commentary
Chad Johnson has not outgrown the Bengals.
The Bengals have outgrown Chad Johnson. And he knows it.
It's the only reason the attention-starved wide receiver ran the gamut of radio row before the Super Bowl this week in Phoenix and openly politicked for a ticket out of Cincinnati going anywhere.
"I'm going to be playing for your team next year," Johnson told a Boston reporter while he folded his hands together in prayer. Before a separate interview, he wrote on a note pad to Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, "Can I play in Seattle?"
Johnson went on Charlotte airwaves and pleaded for Panthers coach John Fox to "come get me," and desperately crowed to a Chicago radio station that he could turn beleaguered Bears quarterback Rex Grossman into a superstar.
"I've worked myself to the point where I make my quarterback look good regardless of what he does," Johnson said.
Yeah, right. Remember how good Johnson made Carson Palmer look this season in San Francisco when he couldn't handle a perfectly lobbed pass in the end zone that would have put the Bengals in position to tie the 49ers with less than three minutes to play in the fourth quarter?
Still, no one really disputes Johnson's talent. The four-time Pro Bowler is the only player to have led either conference in receiving yards four straight seasons. He is the team's all-time leader in receiving yards (8,365) and receptions (559).
And, almost as impressively, he seemed to single-handedly make Cincinnati once again relevant in the NFL.
The only time orange and black was seen on national TV from the mid-1990s to 2003 was in another team's highlight reel until Johnson made good on a guaranteed win against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.
His various end zone celebrations captivated fans - at least when it didn't warrant a 15-yard penalty. No. 85 preened for the cameras with his gold teeth and charmed audiences as he anointed himself "Ocho Cinco."
But the more one-liners the receiver uttered, the more evident it became he didn't truly understand the language - he has no substance.
Behavior considered cute early in life rarely appeals later in the maturation process. Johnson's song and dance simply wore thin as his me-first attitude became prevalent.
Chad is only about winning if Chad can make the team a winner. He's a lot like the kid in seventh grade that would rather be a star on the "B" team as opposed to a role player on the stack team.
It's no surprise the team-oriented Patriots are once again in the Super Bowl, and no wonder the Giants found success minus the divisive locker room presence of Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey.
The Bengals do not need Johnson to be relevant with one of the league's elite quarterbacks in the fold. Mike Brown needs to build his team around Palmer, and cast off the loud-mouthed receiver for a bounty of draft picks.
Or, if Johnson's recent antics have killed his trade value, keep his rights and shut him down. Don't let him sniff the field. Perhaps an example needs to be made to prevent the next Johnson or Corey Dillon or Carl Pickens or whomever.
Either way, Johnson should never suit up in stripes again. And the Bengals will be better off because of it.
Adios, Ocho Cinco.