NFL: 'Financial obligation remains' before Ocho Cinco on jersey

Updated: September 7, 2008, 8:20 PM ET
By James Walker | ESPN.com

BALTIMORE -- Just when everyone thought it was over with the legal name change with Chad Ocho Cinco, the NFL threw a last-minute monkey wrench into his plans.

According to a press release by the Cincinnati Bengals, the NFL informed Ocho Cinco earlier Sunday that he will have to wear his original name on the back of his jersey. Ocho Cinco stepped on the field Sunday with the nameplate "C. Johnson."

The receiver had a legal name change in the state of Florida this summer so he could wear his former nickname of "Ocho Cinco" this season. Although the NFL recognized the name change, the release says "certain issues remain [with the NFL] to be resolved before Ocho Cinco will be permitted to wear his new surname on his jersey.'"

"He will wear the name Johnson on his jersey today and will be referred to as Chad Johnson on the official play-by-play sheet," the statement said. "Further questions should be directed to the league office."

Contacted Sunday by The Associated Press, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, "He has a financial obligation to Reebok, which produces the jerseys available to fans. That has to be resolved before the on-field jersey can be changed.

"The same obligation exists for any player that changes his number or name."

Before watching the Indianapolis Colts play their first regular-season game at Lucas Oil Stadium, commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters that the name change on the jersey would likely occur soon.

"He's legally changed his name, so we're willing to recognize that," Goodell said. "There's what I call a more administrative issue that has to be dealt with. There's a large inventory of jerseys that are out there with 85 Johnson. Any player that changes a number or changes his name has to address that so that our licensing is not stuck with a large inventory. That's just something we're dealing with. As far as we're concerned, if he changes his name legally, that's fine with us."

After the Bengals' 17-10 loss to Baltimore, Ocho Cinco refused to address the NFL's ruling.

"I ain't worried about the name, man. We just lost the game," he said. "I ain't worried about that."

James Walker covers the AFC North for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter