Cincinnati Bengals  

 

While he's riding bulls, Ochocinco's game has gone to the dogs

Has Chad Ochocinco gone completely mad? In the last few years, he's changed his name, had two reality shows, danced with the stars, took part in a Major League Soccer tryout, became a social-media darling on Twitter, and acted borderline crazy.

Gary A. Vasquez / NFL
While his NFL production has thinned, Chad Ochocinco has become a broadcast and social-media star.
Most influential athletes on social media
Rank
Player
Sport
Score
1
Chad Ochocinco
NFL
88
2t
LeBron James
NBA
83
2t
Mike Tyson
Boxing
83
4t
NFL
82
4t
Rory McIlroy
PGA
82
6t
Lamar Odom
NBA
81
6t
Kevin Durant
NBA
81
8
NFL
80
Source: CNBC.com

But now, riding a bull, coming inches from serious injury, he's gone off the deep end.

I get that Ochocinco wants to become the Dennis Rodman of the NFL. The crazier he acts, the higher ratings his reality show gains and the bigger star he becomes. In April, CNBC listed Ochocinco as the most influential athlete in social media, so I understand it all. But I also understand football, and for him to have a career in reality TV, he must be successful on the field. And that is where Ochocinco is losing his edge.

The six-time Pro Bowl receiver is not playing like one. I go back to the playoff game in January 2010 when the Bengals faced the Jets and Darrelle Revis handled Ochocinco easily and convincingly. Now, I understand that Revis handles many receivers easily, but what bothers me from that game is that it did not bother Ochocinco. He then spent his offseason not on football, but on his social-media status and his quest to become the biggest reality star. Where is the competitive fire to be the best, the drive to prove us critics wrong? If Revis' shutting down Ochocinco did not get him off his butt to train, then he's lost his edge.

Ochocinco can con America into thinking he is still significant as a wide receiver, but he can't con the people who evaluate talent for teams in the NFL. All the time spent away from football, away from training for football has diminished his skills. Now, bull riding? Come on, Chad, work on your craft, or just retire and become a television star full-time.

And all this off-the-field stuff has bothered the Bengals and, outside of the Raiders, the Bengals are normally more tolerant than any other team. But now, even the Bengals have seen enough. They want to move on (I bet Carson Palmer could offer more here), they want to take the tent down and have the Ochocinco circus head to another town. And when the Bengals are finished with a player, then that player's career might be coming to an end.

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On the field, Ochocinco is not the same player who appeared in those six Pro Bowls. He has lost his ability to get away from tight man-to-man coverage; his hands are not as skilled; and unless the offensive scheme gets him open, he won't be a factor in the game. In the last three years -- the most significant time spent working on reality TV, and not football -- Ochocinco has had two of the least impressive seasons in his career in terms of average yards per catch. In fact, last year, he averaged 12.4 yards per catch, which was the third-worst of his career. And if you needed more proof that his off-the-field activity is affecting his on-field play, Ochocinco has missed 11 games the last three years.

Therefore, based on the evidence presented, what team in its right mind would take on all the off-the-field activities, to gain not that much on the field? The risk far outweighs the reward.

Ochocinco needs to stop the nonsense and either get back to being a player, or go full-time into the television world because he clearly cannot do both and no team is going to want to deal with both.

Ochocinco just might be riding the bulls off into the sunset.

Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi.

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