Posted: Aug 12, 2012 11:06 PM by cbssports.com
MIAMI - On Saturday afternoon, Chad Johnson was most likely the No. 1 receiver on the Dolphins club (he's almost certainly the most talented), and though he was coming off a subpar performance in the first preseason game of the year, he talked about how excited he was for a third chance at an NFL career.
A little more than 24 hours later, the Dolphins released this terse 15-word statement:
The Miami Dolphins have terminated the contract of WR Chad Johnson, the team announced today.
The reason: his Saturday night arrest for allegedly head-butting his new wife, which kept him in jail overnight (he was released on a $2,500 bond Sunday morning and it was revealed that he told police that Evelyn Lozada was actually the one who head-butted him).
Now, as CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman writes, his career might be over because, simply put, the team didn't believe his side of the story. And oh, because, as Freeman writes, "A source also said that when Johnson joined the Dolphins he was warned explicitly by the team not to create any distractions, and, if he did, the repercussions would be swift."
That's what coach Joe Philbin talked about with his team after news of the Johnson arrest surfaced.
"I reminded them that on April 10 in our first team meetings, I said, 'Guys, I'd love to stand up here and tell you we're never going to have a problem here in Miami,'" Philbin said, via the AP. "Do we want high-character guys? Yes. All 31 other coaches are going to say the same thing. But I specifically told them on April 10 that there will be problems that arise and you have to deal with them honestly and openly and directly. You've got to learn from mistakes and move on, and you can't hide from the problem."
Philbin said after Miami's practice Sunday that he would talk to Johnson, but he also wasn't sure when that would be. A few hours later, Ochocinco was gone.
"I was shocked," tight end Charles Clay told reporters Sunday. "Of course, you don't want things like that to happen."
Listen, I covered Ochocinco for a few years in Cincinnati, and I felt the same way as Clay. Pretty much shocked. Yeah, Ochocinco oftentimes comes off like a punk, but in my eyes, he was nothing more than a man-child. Sometimes, he was a jerk. Sometimes, he cried after losses. Sometimes, he was a sweetheart. Sometimes, he was moody. Even if he had a funny way of showing it, I always kind of believed he had a good heart.
He also was always quick to point out that he wasn't a trouble-maker, and aside from causing headaches to Bengals management and the coaching staff, he never found himself on the wrong end of police mugshot. Until now.
And if the accusations are true and Ochocinco head-butted his wife, his career has ended on a sad, pathetic note. And a surprise to so many of us who knew him as best we could. For the man who always basked in the glow of the media spotlight, that's a brutal truth.