Chad Johnson has always been an idiot, but not the kind of idiot the NFL has became far too familiar with during the great offseason of the idiot that recently concluded. He’s not the type to consider eating weed to be a wise, logical decision (Mikel Leshoure), and he’s also not the brand of moron who repeatedly drives under the influence of alcohol (Justin Blackmon).
He was — and arguably, still is — a far more innocent breed of idiot. In a few weeks, kids will file into classrooms to start a new school year, and nearly every class will have at least one clownish character. He’ll be the kind of kid who plants “kick me!” signs sporadically, knows the perfect time to start a slow clap, and repeatedly attempts to beat his personal record for the amount of pencils stuck in the ceiling. He’s an idiot and he knows it, and he’s amusing to some but annoying to many others.
Chad Johnson is that clown.
His idiocy is equally fun, stupid, and irritating, and because it’s was all of those things, it’s also another adjective: brilliant. Johnson knows that idiocy is his best asset, because even if he flounders on the football field, his entertainment value still provides a market for Chad Johnson/Ochocinco/OchoJohnson. Especially on Twitter, where he was one of the first athletes to master the social part of social media, mostly because the Internet always wants to know his thoughts on condoms and the proper boiling procedure.
Most of all, though, his idiocy was harmless. Whether you love or hate him, that much was undeniable. Until last night.
The details are very public now, but the amount of filth that’s attached to Johnson’s name depends on who you’d like to believe.
Last night, Johnson had an argument with his new wife Evelyn Lozada. It began when Lozada was bringing in groceries, and made a discovery much worse than mistakenly picking up outdated yogurt, or cracked eggs. Those two things are the worst, but a receipt for a mysterious box of condoms can cause far greater instant rage.
When Lozada found that receipt and confronted her husband whom she’s been married to for only just over a month, the ensuing argument ended in a deep laceration on her forehead. Lozada told police that Johnson head butted her, while Johnson maintains that she was actually the aggressor, and she head butted him. The details matter little to the Dolphins, because a player who’s capable of Johnson’s level of supreme distraction doesn’t get the standard three strikes.
He was given only one strike, and now he’s swung, missed, and landed on his ass. Johnson spent the night in jail and was released on a $2,500 bond this morning, he now he’s been cut by the Dolphins.
Following practice earlier today — a practice that Johnson obviously didn’t attend — head coach Joe Philbin said he hadn’t spoken to Johnson yet, but when he did that conversation ended in the 34-year-old’s unemployment, as was first reported by Jay Glazer. Now since he has a domestic charge lingering and he can’t perform on the field following a 15-catch season in New England, and a zero catch night in his first and only preseason game in Miami, it’s fair to wonder if we’ll ever see Johnson again.
And if that happens, this is the last way I would have expected his career to end.
He may be an idiot who’s profane during press conferences, and talks about including wildlife in touchdown celebrations, but his idiocy was always contained to the football field. Yes, he was involved in a prior domestic incident. But that occurred in college, over a decade ago. His on-field theatrics aside, since Johnson entered professional football he’s acted like a professional.
In fact, he’s done more than just meet the minimum standards for professionalism. Much more.
This is the same professional who invited a widow from Ohio — a complete stranger — to his wedding. After a brief conversation on Twitter with Cheryl Minton, he asked if she had a passport. Then she was there as a reality TV star and an aspiring reality TV star were declared husband and wife in wedded bliss.
This is the same professional who auctioned off his Lamborghini and donated every dollar to Feed The Children. He’s also the same professional who was ranked as one of the NFL’s top 10 “good guys” by CBS’ Mike Freeman, who wrote these glowing words:
Sure, he’s a little foul-mouthed on Twitter, and yes, he was once a showboat, but he was, and is, harmless. He’s also, secretly, an incredibly solid person and goes out of his way to make people think he’s not.
The fact that an argument occurred between a man and his wife is not unique, even if it was rooted in Johnson potentially being unfaithful. As I wrote during the fallout of Dez Bryant’s domestic dispute, arguments between husbands and wives, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, or any combination of any people who live under the same roof are commonplace. Allowing that disagreement to escalate and climax with a head butt isn’t, regardless of which party is more at fault.
That’s why this is so unlikely, and yes, surprising. We’re used to seeing Chad Johnson the fun idiot, or the crazy whacky idiot who hides touchdown celebration signs in snowbanks, or something in between.
Now he’s just an idiot.