Lewis: Ochocinco's costly tweets signal a generation gap

Chad Ochocinco was fined $25,000 by the NFL for posting to his Twitter account just before and during the Cincinnati Bengals' preseason game last week. The receiver promised Wednesday that it will never happen again, but his coach questioned the hoopla over what he characterized as a generational conflict.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said his restrictions on players using social network sites is more stringent than the NFL's, but he acknowledged it's a piece of a larger changing culture.

"I think the social part for them is different now," Lewis said. "Things have changed. It's what they like to do, it is how they communicate. I don't think you can sit there and act stupid and act like it doesn't go on, because it does. But when they are here to do the meetings and so forth, that is our time here. You have time when you are not here to do what you need to do."

The NFL on Tuesday fined the Bengals wide receiver for violating its restrictions, established a year ago, on using social media sites before, during and after games. He's the first player disciplined under the policy.

Ochocinco wouldn't discuss the fine with reporters Wednesday, but he addressed it on his Twitter account, on which he apologized to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

"Dad again I apologize 2 you for my tweet, as my father I understand you've to discipline, can we try timeout next time please :)" Ochocinco tweeted before practice.

In an earlier posting, he apologized to the league and said he wouldn't do it again. He also noted that it was the first time his tweeting had cost him money.

The NFL adopted a policy last August allowing players to use social media networks, but not around game time. Players, coaches and football operations employees can use Twitter, Facebook and other social media up to 90 minutes before kickoff and again when traditional media interviews are finished after the game.

They're not allowed to use cell phones, computers or other electronic equipment during the restricted time.

Ochocinco met some of the Philadelphia Eagles during warmups before their preseason game Friday night in Cincinnati. He then tweeted the names of players he met and added, "I love prw-game warm up." The message was posted less than 90 minutes before kickoff.

Ochocinco played the first half along with the other Bengals regulars and had his helmet knocked off after he was hit while trying to make a catch. When he was out of the game, he tweeted: "Man Im sick of getting hit like that, its the ... preseason ... 1day I'm gone jump up and start throwing hay makers."

The flamboyant receiver has regularly tested the NFL's restrictions during his 10-year career, resulting in an array of fines from the league.

He was fined $20,000 last season for taking a dollar bill onto the field as a pretend bribe while officials were reviewing one of his catches. He was fined $30,000 for donning a mock poncho and sombrero next to the bench following a touchdown catch in another game.

Ochocinco has been repeatedly fined for on-the-field celebrations, which he has toned down. They've included a river dance, pretending to perform CPR on a football and using an end-zone pylon as a golf club. He also donned a mock Hall of Fame jacket on the sideline.

Lewis said Ochocinco's teammates are accustomed to his antics.

"The rest of the guys don't care what Chad is doing," Lewis said. "People make more perception of Chad outside of this building. All 40 or 30 of you (media) could go right to his locker, and everybody would not even have a second take. It's just Chad doing something stupid again, and that is what it is going to be."

Lewis also had a little fun with Ochocinco's latest promotion: a honey-nut oat cereal called "Ochocinco's" that will be sold locally beginning next month.

"It's not on the Bengals' training table, you can quote me on that," Lewis said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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