PRO BOWL 2008
Chad Johnson fixed fellow Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh's flowers yesterday while Kelsey Campbell looked on.
Pro Bowls not enough for Ocho Cinco
Paradise hasn't been much of a fiesta for Ocho Cinco.
Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Johnson arrived at Pro Bowl practice yesterday for the second time this week, and it was clear that being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean wasn't mitigating the vociferous star's feelings toward his ongoing standoff with the Bengals.
"My problem is I've worried about pleasing everybody," Johnson said after the rest of the AFC players had cleared the field at the Ihilani Resort. "I think it's time for Chad to worry about Chad." Shortly afterward, agent Drew Rosenhaus ushered Johnson away.
Meanwhile, his teammate and fellow receiver, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, was just trying to enjoy his first all-star selection after seven seasons in the NFL. Both players came out of Oregon State in 2001, and it's the first time two Bengals receivers have been selected for the same Pro Bowl.
That went largely overlooked, as it didn't take long for the media to open a barrage of Bengals-related questions at Johnson (a late replacement for Randy Moss) at the Ihilani Resort practice field.
"It was just a matter of time of when he was going to get here," Houshmandzadeh said of his teammate. "I know a lot of guys here already, so it wasn't an uncomfortable situation, but I knew Chad was coming, so it wasn't as big of a deal. It wasn't like I was shocked when I heard he had been named as an alternate."
Johnson posted a franchise-best 1,440 receiving yards last season, but questions about his happiness with the team dogged him over that span, and persisted yesterday.
"Me? Controversy?" Johnson said in mock amazement. He also told a national reporter he loved him.
Coach Marvin Lewis has said the team won't trade Johnson, who has a four-year contract worth $18.5 million remaining.
Johnson did intimate that he preferred to be playing for a title contender. He's spent his entire career with a Bengals team that has failed to advance in the playoffs. On the other hand, he flashed the orange "B" on his jersey to reinforce who he played for.
"Postseason victories to get to the Super Bowl, that's the whole point of playing the game," he said. "That's what you go through all season for, that's why you do mini-camp, two and a half weeks beating each other up. Two-a-days, that's what you do it for. And when you continue to do it year after year after year, and don't get to reap the rewards of all that work, it tends to wear on you a little bit.
"Coming here to Hawaii is getting a little bit played out," added Johnson, the career Bengals leader in receptions and yards who's at his fifth straight Pro Bowl.
Houshmandzadeh, on the other hand, wasn't worried about much during his stay here, and certainly didn't want to get himself mixed up in Johnson's circus.
"It's been cool, man," he said. "It's kind of what you expect, come out here, relax, have fun. Get to know certain people."
The Hawaii football team travels to play Oregon State, his alma mater, in the upcoming season. Before the question of what would happen in that game could finish being asked, Houshmandzadeh had his response.
"They (Hawaii) are probably gonna lose," he said matter-of-factly. "Naw, I'm sure Hawaii will score points." He paused. "Maybe not; they're losing their receivers and their quarterback. I don't know (about a score prediction), but they're going to lose. I would assume that one."