Cincinnati's loss is our gain.
Stuck in a will-ya-trade-me-already stalemate with the Bengals, Chad Johnson had plenty of free time this spring to serve as guest editor of our second annual Revenge of the Jocks issue. He performed his duties the same way he plays the game: with reckless abandon, creative aplomb and maximum fun. At different times during his workday at his playground/home in Davie, Fla., Johnson was 1) posing naked for a potential cover photo (his idea); 2) smoking a cigar by the pool; 3) watching Talladega Nights on one of three 50-inch flat screens that front a 30-foot aquarium; 4) playing FIFA Soccer on his PlayStation; 5) providing employees with homemade cheesecake; and 6) trying but failing to organize a staff retreat to an establishment called Tootsies Cabaret. Johnson also decided that, given this pulpit, he wanted to explain his NFL philosophy. Consider this a sneak-peek at the book he'll one day write, The Chad Way: How to Have Fun, Play Big and Own Your Life. Over to you, boss.
DIFFERENT IS BETTER
Anything that's against what's right and normal and traditional but not over the top? Do it. Always. They won't admit it, but that's what everybody wants. Me editing a magazine? Why not? Taking over the NFL? Posing nude for the cover? Pushing the envelope? Why not? It's a whole new me. I'm free. Free as a bird. So why not?
TEND YOUR GARDEN
Some people say the grass is always greener on the other side. I say be the gardener. Water it. Feed it. Make your own grass grow. I make the grass greener wherever I am. I'm the gardener.
WORK IS NOTHING BUT A FOUR-LETTER WORD
Everybody else is known for working hard: "Oh, look at that guy, he works so, so hard, he stays so late, isn't that just great." Whoop-de-do. You're supposed to work hard, it's the freaking NFL. Everybody's gifted. Everybody's talented. I don't want people to know about the film study I do, or read about the extra work I put in. I want to be known for having fun and celebrating—that's it.
DON'T BLAME ME, BLAME MY GRANDMA
If people want to blame someone for who I am, they should blame my mom and blame my grandma.
FOOTBALL ISN'T THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN
It doesn't matter where I am or what I'm doing: My light is gonna shine. I could always work as an
editor for The Mag, right? As long as the money's right. Or I could go into acting full-time, team up with George Clooney or somebody. If I can get out of Cincinnati, the sky's the limit. What could I do in a place like Philadelphia or Dallas? It would be ridiculous. It's gonna be like a whole new me, like Ocho Cinco 2.0. Yeah, I like that. Ocho Cinco 2.0.
BE AFRAID OF FAILURE. BE VERY AFRAID
Let's put this in big bold print: Chad is scared to fail.
KEEP 'EM GUESSING
I'm just a humorous person and I let my personality come through in what I do. Everybody is drawn to it and can't wait to see what I'm going to do next.
COME STRONG OR DON'T COME AT ALL
Whoever has to deal with me on Sundays, I need you at your best. Period. Because to be at my best, I need you at your best. That's why I talk. You weren't ready? No. No. I'm gonna give you all the bulletin-board material you want during the week so that you come out there at your best. The reason players don't want to injure me or kill me on Sundays is because the whole point of my talking is, it's a challenge.
TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE
I'm not just an athlete, I'm an entertainer. An athletainer? Yeah, I like that. Ocho Cinco 2.0, the Athletainer.
IT TAKES A CHAD JOHNSON TO RAISE A ROOKIE
I would love to go to the rookie symposium that the NFL puts on each summer and talk to all the new guys coming in. I would tell them how it is, instead of feeding them all that bull they normally get.
Here are six things every rookie needs to know:
This is a business. Period. Maximize yourself to the fullest every moment that you're here. Because if you get hurt, they don't care about you.
Now, forget all that and go play for the love of the game.
You can break down opponents all you want, but you have to first know yourself and what you're doing. Know your offense, know your routes, know your own limits as a receiver. To have fun you have to be cocky and arrogant. But swagger comes from confidence and confidence comes from work.
Living large without going broke? Duh. Get a financial adviser.
When it comes to hairstyles, like my Mohawk, as long as you do something that fits your personality and you can back it up on the field, do it.
I know what a defensive back is gonna do before he even does it. It's the same thing with the press. I try to know what's going to be asked before the questions come out, and I say things in a certain way so they're interesting but they can't be twisted up.
BE FUNNY. DON'T BECOME A JOKE
What I do may be funny, but nothing I do is a joke. Take the faux Hall of Fame jacket I wore on the sideline last September. People said I was mocking something sacred. I wasn't mocking the Hall of Fame. Fifteen years from now, when I'm really putting that jacket on, I'm gonna bring that back up. "Did y'all think in 2007 when I put that jacket on that I thought it was a joke?"
BOX? WHAT BOX?
People want to call me controversial. Okay, yeah, I celebrate. I've voiced a strong opinion about my team and wanting out of Cincinnati. Whoop-de-do. No DUIs. No arrests. No domestic violence. No nothing. Except a goddamn Hall of Fame jacket and a couple of dances. People want to be entertained but the minute you open up about it and have some fun, they bash you for it, they kill you. They want you to play inside this little box, and if you ever dare step outside this box you're in trouble. Well, there is no box for me. I am completely out the box.
DON'T LET OTHERS DEFINE YOU
Management told me I had a bad year. I was asked to stop being me. Okay, but how does that work since I am what some people would say is the face of Cincinnati?
IMAGE ISN'T EVERYTHING
Forget perception. My numbers from last year speak for themselves. 1,440 yards. A personal record. 93 catches. 8 TDs. 74 first downs. Tops in the NFL. But I had a bad year, right?
TRY MY SHOES ON FOR SIZE
I love the fans in Cincinnati. They dealt with so much losing before I got there. But they still need to understand that this is a business. I hope they stand up for themselves at whatever job they do.
PAY UP OR GET LOST
If we want to be like Indy and New England, we have to pay for difference-makers on defense. Our offense is fine. But if they're fussing about paying me, a guy among the league's best, you know damn well the Bengals aren't gonna give the defense what it needs. So I just said, "If we aren't gonna do what we need to do to win, can I please leave?" It's simple. I just told 'em: "If y'all won't change, then I have to."
BET YOU DIDN'T SEE THIS COMING
Am I coming back? Of course I am. I told my coaches I'm going to California to act, but the truth is I may come back to the Bengals as early as June. I may be crazy but I'm not stupid.
MY NAME IS MY NAME
Maximize your opportunities in this game at all times and at all costs. That's my motto. I'll give you an example. My sex tape. No, I'm just playing. I'm talking to VH1 in June about doing an Ocho Cinco reality show. Cool, right? People think they know Ocho Cinco. Well, they're really gonna know me now. We've already filmed a whole season of stuff. VH1. BET. MTV. Everyone wants it. VH1 is offering more money than the rest. My prediction? Do they give out Oscars for
IT ALL COMES BACK TO FUN
If you're not having fun in the NFL, don't even do it. Man, you're special, you're blessed, you're in the NFL, celebrate. Be free. Millions of people want to be doing what you're doing on Sunday afternoons. Millions. You've got a great opportunity to do something special, take advantage of it. I damn sure am.