It’s that time of the week again when THIRDandFOUR highlights an athlete who would have benefited by consulting our website prior to painfully stumbling before either the media, a professional team or college program, a professional league, an officiating crew, and/or similar individuals and entities. Welcome to Weekly Correction—the Ocho Cinco addition.
Because we consider Ocho Cinco such a unique individual, today’s edition of Weekly Correction is somewhat of an aberration. Instead of providing Ocho advice as to how he should have approached the media in one of his recent television interviews, we will push him to answer the most critical question regarding his career: what do you really want to do?!?
The Cincinnati Bengals’ veteran wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco certainly has enjoyed an above-average NFL career since exploding into the league in 2001. From 2002 through 2007, he averaged per season 1,339 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns, leading the Bengals to the AFC North division title in 2005. Since then, however, he has been the “King of Distractions,” while his performance on the football field has noticeably declined. Though he logged 1,047 receiving yards in 2009—a year in which the Bengals won the AFC North title—he has averaged a mere 806 receiving yards and 5.7 touchdowns over the last three seasons.
While Ocho has been anything but stellar as a wide receiver for the Bengals during this time period, he has successfully “caught” every non-football challenge thrown his way. Over the past four years, he has starred in the VH1 dating show The Ultimate Catch; raced and beat (with a head start) a professional horse at River Downs Racetrack in Cincinnati, Ohio; starred in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars; tried out for a spot on Kansas City’s Major League Soccer team Sporting Kansas City; rode a bull for 1.5 seconds at a Professional Bull Riders event in Georgia; and driven a racecar at 190 mph on a NASCAR track in Atlanta with Sprint Cup driver Jeff Burton. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget to mention, in August 2008, Chad Johnson—number eighty-five for the Cincinnati Bengals—legally changed his name to Chad Javon Ocho Cinco in Broward County, Florida. Get it: eighty-five translates to ocho cinco in Spanish. Wait, what? No, it doesn’t.
Anyway, I will momentarily digress: You are probably thinking, Ocho Cinco is not the first Bengal to tackle alternative sports during the NFL offseason. You’re right; linebacker Dhani Jones stars in the Travel Channel’s show Dhani Tackles the Globe, which began airing in 2009 and features Dhani attempting to excel at sports that define cultures in different countries around the globe. Dhani has taken on the ancient martial art of Pradal Serey in Cambodia; dragon boat racing in Singapore; cricket in Jamaica; polo in Croatia; and rugby in England, just to name a few of his adventures. In an attempt to show that the love of sports is universal around the globe, Dhani immerses himself in the culture of the countries he visits. He creates an educational experience for the Travel Chanel viewers, himself, and the individuals who live in the countries he visits.
Thus, Dhani is a true example of what THIRDandFOUR strives to foster: a professional athlete who is dedicated to his sport, yet aspires to create a professional image that will make the transition from football to his subsequent desired profession seamless. From July through January/February, Dhani dives headfirst into the NFL season. However, during the offseason, Dhani is, among other things, a television personality for the Travel Channel; a guest correspondent for ESPN2 and the NFL Network; and a writer for Page2 on ESPN.com. Dhani runs a high-end bowtie company and occasionally serves beverages and food at his Bowtie Cafe in the historic Mount Adams neighborhood of Cincinnati. Moreover, he writes books; on June 7, 2011, Dhani released his first book The Sportsman: Unexpected Lessons from an Around-the-World Sports Odyssey.
Now, I bring you back to your regularly scheduled programming on OCNN—the Ocho Cinco News Network. On June 30, 2011 following Ocho Cinco’s recent NASCAR event, he participated in an ESPN interview on Sportscenter Express, where he opined about his upcoming challenge. There, he informed us that he will make the trip to Okeechobee, Florida in the coming weeks to “catch a couple of gators.” When asked, “are you really going to try to wrestle live alligators,” Ocho Cinco confidently responded, “have I ever steered you wrong any other time? If I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it… Wait and see what’s after the alligators. I mean, if I get hurt—lose an arm—I can always be the kicker for the Bengals.”
Ocho Cinco’s June 30th announcement validated two things: (i) he is a living, breathing marketing ploy; and (ii) his marketing exploits do nothing to further either his professional football career or his seamless transition from football into another profession.
Indeed, Ocho’s offseason adventures cause people to take notice. However, most individuals—including those involved with the Bengals organization—take notice and cringe. First, most recently, Ocho Cinco has done everything possible to void his NFL contract with the Bengals. Should he lose an arm wrestling alligators in the coming weeks, I’m pretty confident the Bengals won’t reserve a spot for him on the roster as a kicker (See former Chicago Bulls star Jay Williams and his non-existent basketball career following his 2003 motorcycle accident). Second, unlike Dhani Jones, Ocho has not been selective about the avenues through which he markets himself professionally. For the lack of a better term, he’s been all over the place. He has failed to show that he is qualified to excel in alternative professions.
In sum, keep it coming, Ocho! Sleep in a bed of snakes. Take on Wladimir Klitschko…I’m pretty sure you can connect more punches than David Haye. Swim with the sharks. Shucks, juggle balls, while riding a unicycle and breathing fire! I think it’s safe to say, Barnum and Bailey Circus will reserve a spot for you on their roster.