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Chad Johnson's arrest puts ex-Dolphin's career on hold

Chad Johnson was serious for precisely one moment during last week's "Hard Knocks" episode. It came after Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin warned Johnson to "temper" some of his off-color comments.

Philbin then asked Johnson how everything else was going in the receiver's life.

"Good. This is my life," said Johnson, looking Philbin in the eye. "This is it. So it's going well."

In that moment, the viewer could actually see how much football meant to Johnson. One moment in Johnson's driveway has taken football away from him.

This isn't about guilt or innocence. It isn't about the details of Johnson's domestic violence charge. All of those facts will come out in time, and we're hesitant to make sweeping moral judgements from thousands of miles away. This is about where Johnson goes from here and the sad possible end of an 11-year career.

Philbin did not want the distraction that Johnson's arrest would bring, and it's hard to blame him. The Dolphins organization rescued Johnson off the scrap heap when perhaps no other team would. Around the League's Brian McIntyre reported in June that the Dolphins gave the former Mr. Ochocinco a contract with no guaranteed money. The Dolphins wanted to see how it all worked out in August before committing to him.

Things went well on the field. Johnson was listed as a starter, along with Legedu Naanee and Davone Bess, on Miami's first depth chart. But Johnson didn't hold up his end of the bargain off the field.

Young, talented players often get second, third and fourth chances. The Titans haven't given up on wide receiver Kenny Britt despite his eight incidents with police since he was drafted in 2009. Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson scored a huge contract despite having DUI convictions on his record. Johnson, however, is nearing the end of his career. He was trying to make the team, while Philbin is trying to establish a culture. Johnson left Philbin no choice.

NFL Network and's Steve Wyche talked to league executives on Sunday night who believe Johnson could have trouble finding work in the short term. Johnson's legal case likely will have to play out before any team considers him. Teams will want to see if Johnson is subject to discipline by the league. There's no telling how long that will take, but it would be surprising to see Johnson on a roster in Week 1, when contracts are guaranteed for the entire season.

We're not going to say Johnson's career is over because no one knows. Terrell Owens was cut for being a malcontent in the Indoor Football League not so long ago. His former employers essentially tore Owens' character apart in a press release. T.O. still got another job.

It's possible Johnson will get another shot some day, but now he must focus on his family and his court case. Just a week after Johnson said that his life is football, his life in football is on hold.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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