Jan. 15, 2008

Chad Johnson is like nuclear power. He’s both spectacular and volatile.

What originally was seen as a long-term answer to the Bengals’ future now has become a threat to consume everything around him. The fragile star seems always on the brink of supernova here in Cincinnati. There is no gray area to his personality. He’s an extreme guy with extreme demands and expectations.

The fans and media treat him differently according to the outcome of the game that week.When the Bengals win, we remember Chad has five straight seasons with 1400 yards or more, that he’s a perennial Pro-Bowler and that he doesn’t get arrested. We remember when he slept at Paul Brown Stadium, and all of his touchdown hoopla. He’s such a clown, what’s not to like?

But when they lose, we realize he drops too many passes, that he’s soft and that he cramps too much. We blame it on him drinking Coke with no ice, or that he’s selfish or depressed. We recall his whining for the ball and his alleged fight with a coach at halftime in the ‘05 Playoffs. He’s a clown. Why not trade somebody like that?

Chad comes with some emotional baggage, but he get’s a raw deal from this city. The guy certainly works hard at what he does. He does keep his nose clean and he’s involved with plenty of charitable causes throughout town. He’s not a bad guy and he just wants to win. As a player he’s irreplaceable and every corner in the league would list him as one of the toughest guys to cover. Chad will play many more years at a very high level. He’s worth a boatload to this, and any other organization in the NFL.

Yet his value is the very reason why the Bengals would entertain offers from potential buyers. Smoke signals out of Philadelphia have expressed interest in our emotional superstar. If Chad thinks the Cincy crowd can be tough on him, he should be aware that Philly fans are famous for booing Santa Clause. Donovan McNabb, on his way being chased out of town, should be able to fill him in on how that city responds to a superstar after a losing season. The Eagles have some quality defensive pieces the Bengals’ would surely look at if they were dangled as trade-bait. Former UC Bearcat and double-digit sack-artist Trent Cole seems like a natural fit. He’s a speed-rushing defensive end who could fit in as an outside linebacker should the Bengals change to a 3-4 defense. A move like that could free up both Chad’s and Justin Smith’s contract, leaving the Bengals with $ 10 million or more in additional cap-space to entertain free-agents with.

It always comes back to the business side of things. With Houshmandzedah and Henry both lining up for huge paydays soon, it seems inconceivable all three receivers can sign long-term contracts. If Chad brought decent trade-value to the table, the Bengals’ could work further to repair the defense with quality personnel and balance the talent on this team.

Chad knows it’s about the business too. After signing with agent Drew Rosenhaus, the world knew it would be a matter of time before the publicity stunts began. Rosenhaus, the agent of motor-mouth Terrell Owens, has real talent in getting himself and his clients on TV. Chad’s recent grumblings sounded more like the man behind the curtain speaking than Chad himself. He is still in the premiere years of his career and every team in the NFL could use a Chad Johnson somewhere in their offense. The Bengals either commit to Chad all the way and acquiesce to his mood swings and tantrums or let him off of his chain and watch him run to a bigger market. I think the team should allow Chad to take the exit ramp on this one. He may reach event horizon in Philly and laugh last in the Super Bowl, but I’d rather that than to see him meltdown here.

Mojokong - Chernobyl, Ohio.

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