It was not so long ago that Jake Long was telling us about how Chad Johnson could be a real leader for this Miami Dolphins team. Chad, himself, spoke of how liberated he felt to be out of New England; asserting that in Miami we would see the return of the old number 85. This was certainly true off the field, but not on it. Chad Johnson was waived on Monday. Only 24 hours previously, Johnson was arrested for domestic battery, having been accused of attacking his wife Evelyn Lozada. These two events have been connected by the media and the public as a natural cause and effect. However, this is a blinkered view.

Firstly, we should examine the circumstances surrounding his arrest. Let us begin with the obvious prelude to this discussion: it is never right for a man to strike a woman under any circumstance. However, Johnson denies Lozada’s version of events and claims that in fact she attacked him. What actually transpired is a mystery, but Lozada’s reputation is not exactly spotless.

She was previously married to former NBA player Antoine Walker, and appeared on the reality show ‘Basketball Wives’. On that particular show, she regularly demonstrated a volatile personality and was even involved in physical altercations. It is worth mentioning that Chad Johnson’s record is not pristine either; he was convicted of domestic battery in 2000. However, this event was 12 years ago, when Chad was 22. Despite his media persona and clownish behaviour since, he has not been involved in any further legal trouble.

So we find ourselves embroiled in a ‘he said/she said’ dispute, where the evidence is far from conclusive. Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? Granted, leaving a receipt for a box of condoms in his car was not a veteran move by Johnson. Nevertheless, he is yet to be convicted of any crime. Miami’s linebacker Karlos Dansby spoke out, stating:

“I hate that we didn’t stand behind him. I know the guys in the locker room would. But the organisation felt a totally different way about the situation, and they probably had more information than we know… He didn’t get that third strike”.

This would all be fair criticism of the Dolphins organisation if indeed the breakdown of Johnson’s 41-day marriage was the reason for his release. However, Johnson had already accrued more than three strikes prior to this. In New England, he was silent and out of the spotlight. Conversely, as soon as he signed for Miami he became an instant distraction. Some of his interactions with the press have included the following quotes:

“I’m thinking of going into porn.”

“I was hanging with Gene Simmons in the offseason, working on music, being a hippie, smoking weed.”

“I’m going to take all the rookies for lunch to Tootsies (a strip club).”

It is what we have come to expect from the man who legally changed his surname to ‘Ochocinco’, before recently changing it back to Johnson. A man that was live-tweeting at his own wedding. But the Dolphins quickly grew tired of his act. Johnson was reprimanded and warned by management for a press conference of his that was laden with expletives throughout. His response? He changed his Twitter account avatar to a two middle finger salute. A reality show with Johnson and Lozada, titled ‘Ev and Ocho’, was also due to start in September. The show has now understandably been shelved by VH1.

These stunts may have achieved the impossible and made the Dolphins interesting, but ultimately it was costing the organisation their reputation. Having said all of this, the distractions would have been tolerated by the Dolphins but for one salient and unavoidable point: Chad Johnson is not a productive wide receiver any more. He is 34 and fresh off a season in which he only managed 15 catches… With Tom Brady as his quarterback. Calvin Johnson would not have been released for the same infractions. As it is the Dolphins that we are discussing, it is safe to suggest that a wide receiver like Early Doucet would have been given the benefit of the doubt as well. The Dolphins are woefully under strength at the wide receiver position. General Manager Jeff Ireland spoke with Peter King of Sports Illustrated recently and conceded that he has “fours, fives and sixes” at this position, but he is unsure as to whether he has any “ones, twos or threes”, (i.e. any genuine starters and backups that will make a significant impact this season).

The Dolphins have had an opportunity to assess Johnson, in great detail, for several weeks now in training camp. Johnson may claim that he still has ‘it‘, but the organisation clearly does not share his opinion. If they did, the distractions would be endured. If they did, they would have stood by Johnson in the face of his wife’s accusations. However, the on-the-field productivity no longer justifies the off-the-field antics. The Patriots and the Dolphins agree on this assessment, and this perception of Johnson is quickly spreading across the league.


Oggy’s Quick Slants

– In my last article I may have joked about the possibility of American Football at the Olympics, but for Roger Goodell it is no laughing matter. The NFL Commissioner stated, “We have already taken steps to gain that IOC recognition… we have, I think, 64 countries that are playing American Football now, and that’s one of the requirements.” With arguments like that, it is no wonder that Jonathan Vilma is questioning Goodell’s powers of reasoning in a civil lawsuit;


– Speaking of which, Vilma has reportedly refused a settlement offer from the NFL that would have resulted in a significant reduction to his one-year suspension. Vilma appears to be motivated by principle more than personal gain. For the league, it is a headache that they could certainly do without.