It wouldn't be an NFL offseason without a prominent wide receiver complaining, so I'd like to thank Chad Johnson for filling that role.
Ever since he danced, skipped and preened onto the NFL's big screen, the Cincinnati wideout has gotten a free pass from the media and fans. Unlike Terrell Owens, Johnson has not been ripped for his excessive post-touchdown celebrations -- even if they cost his team 15 yards.
The reason? He's still been a team player, not doing anything to damage the Bengals' chemistry. He hasn't bashed his quarterback -- like T.O. did in Philly -- or performed situps in his driveway in front of multiple T.V. cameras (another T.O. favorite).
Until now. With his actions this offseason, Johnson has followed T.O.'s lead. Or maybe he's picking up where the Cowboys receiver left off, since Owens has been on his best behavior lately -- even crying while defending his quarterback in January.
The past couple months, Johnson has hinted that he wants out of Cincinnati, but he never came out and made himself clear until Wednesday. He said all the cliches about wanting to be on a winning team, and on and on. He made a humorous appearance on "SportsCenter," during which the ESPN anchor asked him what he wanted to talk about.
Now, however, Johnson has made himself lucid -- life with the Bengals just isn't going to cut it for him anymore. Cincinnati, of course, has no plans to trade its No. 1 receiver -- a smart move -- which should make things interesting in the months leading up to the season. That's because Johnson said Wednesday he won't "report to anything."
I don't think Johnson realizes how good he has it in Cincinnati. Sure, the Bengals are coming off a poor season and haven't made the playoffs in two years. But look around the league, Chad. Only 12 teams make the postseason every year. Would you rather be on the Lions or Cardinals?
If Johnson is trying to pull a Randy Moss and get dealt to New England, he's out of his mind. It's not happening.
Johnson said Carson Palmer was wrong for saying Johnson had told him he'd attend June's minicamp. Palmer is the last guy Johnson wants to start a beef with. More than likely, he'll be throwing passes to Johnson in 2008. And most of the time, those passes will be right on the money.
Answer me this, Chad: How many NFL quarterbacks are as good as yours, are as adroit at hitting receivers in stride as yours? To further the question, how many of those quarterbacks would you have an outside chance of playing with?
Let's see. ... Tom Brady is out. Peyton Manning has plenty of receivers in Indy. That basically takes care of the AFC. In the NFC, Brett Favre is retired (at least for now). With T.O. in Dallas, you're not joining Tony Romo there. Maybe you could play with Drew Brees in New Orleans, but the Saints are no playoff lock. Ditto for Donovan McNabb and the Eagles and even Super Bowl champ Eli Manning and the Giants.
Johnson could hook up with Marc Bulger in St. Louis, but -- wait -- what was the Rams' record last season?
Johnson isn't helping himself, or his team, with this bonanza. If he would focus on simply playing football and helping his team win, the Bengals could be a playoff team in '08.
They won seven games a year ago. Add three wins, and they're playing in January. And we all know what can transpire in the postseason.
Maybe there's more to the situation. I'm no insider. Maybe Johnson doesn't get along with coach Marvin Lewis or can't stand Palmer, which is hard to understand. From all indications, Palmer is the ultimate team player who is dedicated to getting things turned around in Cincy.
This situation is completely different from Moss' stay in Oakland. That marriage was broken from the beginning, and Moss needed a new home.
Johnson doesn't. What he needs is to get his head screwed back on and focus on playing the upcoming season -- and getting in the end zone so he can celebrate -- for the Bengals.
He still has a chance to save his reputation, to not be labeled another T.O. But that will go down the shoot if he keeps down the same road he's traveling on.