Johnson personalizes each note to Browns

Updated: October 13, 2004, 6:46 PM ET
Associated Press

BEREA, Ohio -- Chad Johnson played his idea of a sick joke on the Cleveland Browns.

Chad Johnson
Wide Receiver
Cincinnati Bengals
Rec Yds TD Avg Long YAC
20 297 1 14.9 53 39

The Cincinnati Bengals' wide receiver, known for his quick feet and bold predictions, sent each of Cleveland's four defensive backs a package containing a handwritten note and a bottle of medicine to settle an upset stomach.

"I think some of the guys are taking it personal," said Browns cornerback Daylon McCutcheon, who got a good laugh out of Johnson's gesture. "But I think for the most part, he is not an in-your-face guy. He just likes to have fun. He enjoys playing football. He's a jokester."

At 2-3 and coming off a 34-23 loss to Pittsburgh, the Browns already are feeling queasy enough about their season. They host Cincinnati on Sunday and might not find the joke especially funny.

But that wasn't going to stop Johnson, who smiled when asked about his prank on the Browns. He said he simply wanted to "cure them of their sickness" and suggested "they're going to get tired of covering me."

Inside McCutcheon's box, Johnson tossed in a note that said: "Daylon, Just wanted to add a little color and relief to your week. All the best, Chad."

Anthony Henry, Robert Griffith and Earl Little also received FedEx deliveries from Johnson. The fourth-year wideout personalized each package, signing the notes and including his No. 85 next to his signature.

As if the Browns needed the reminder. Two years ago, Johnson guaranteed a win over Cleveland and nearly backed it up before the Bengals lost 27-20. Johnson had four catches for 103 yards, including a 72-yard TD.

Last season, Johnson had the first two-touchdown game of his career in which the Bengals defeated the Browns 21-14.

This season, Johnson has just one TD catch -- in the season opener -- but has been double-covered more than before and opposing secondaries have made sure he doesn't get behind them deep.

Johnson, who led the AFC with 1,355 yards last season, says the Browns tend to isolate their cornerbacks, and he's hoping they try to cover him with just one defender.

"I see a lot of man-to-man on all the film I've watched this year, then every time I get out there, it's something different," he said. "Hopefully I will get what I'm seeing on the film and be able to expose that."

McCutcheon is keeping this whole episode in perspective.

"He's a good guy," McCutcheon said. "We have a good relationship off the football field. He's a character. He likes to keep the game fun, and that's the way it should be. It's about competition, but he likes to express themselves."

So, will McCutcheon be sending anything to Cincinnati the next few days labeled: Chad Johnson, One Paul Brown Drive, Cincinnati?

"Nah," he said. "I'm just going to go play on Sunday."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press