Media Day reflects dramatic change in Ochocinco's career

INDIANAPOLIS -- Chad Ochocinco finally got to be on the receiving end of questions at Super Bowl XLVI Media Day at Lucas Oil Stadium on Tuesday. The annual event is one he has attended several times as a microphone-toting correspondent for his social media Ochocinco News Network.

Now, the microphones were aimed at him.

"Aw, man, I've dreamed of it," Ochocinco said, wearing his blue No. 85 jersey, blue Super Bowl cap and irrepressible smile. "I've been playing this game a long time -- started out at 4 years old. And this is what you dream of, to come to this stage and enjoy it. So that's what I'm going to do."

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And he's doing it the New England way.

Instead of driving the conversation by talking about himself, Ochocinco was along for the ride. He didn't seem to mind that he didn't get one of the 14 podiums set up on the field for head coach Bill Belichick and players.

Instead, he stood at the 13-yard line between podiums reserved for tight end Aaron Hernandez and receiver Matthew Slater, his soft tone often drowned out by his teammates' speaker-amplified comments.

Didn't matter.

"This is my podium," Ochocinco said, referring to his small section of artificial turf encircled by reporters and photographers. "If I was up there, you couldn't get to me. You couldn't smell the cologne I have on now."

During the nearly hour-long session, Ochocinco provided hardly a whiff of his old look-at-me ways. After 10 years of commanding the spotlight and losing games in Cincinnati, the social media mogul had to pull off one of his most difficult changes.

He repeatedly bumped egos in Cincinnati with coach Marvin Lewis, who referred to him once as "Ocho Psycho." Ochocinco miffed teammates with his attention-gathering antics -- and his sloppy pass routes -- and got under the skin of opponents by sending them Pepto-Bismol and other gifts. The league repeatedly fined him for his on-field celebrations and refusal to follow its uniform code.

During the NFL lockout last summer, he rode a 1,500-pound bull for 1.5 seconds, tried out for Major League Soccer's Sporting Kansas City and took a 160 mph spin around the Atlanta Motor Speedway with Jeff Burton.

He felt revived when the Bengals traded him to the Patriots in July, but quickly realized his career was taking an abrupt turn. He became a small piece in a high-powered passing game, catching only 15 passes all season for 275 yards and one uncelebrated touchdown.

"I know the season hasn't gone the way he wanted to," said Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, filling in for Ochocinco on his OCNN crew this week. "The way they do things up there, I think he's kind of understood that and gone along with it. I'm happy for the guy."

Ochocinco sounded upbeat about all of it. Asked if it was bittersweet for him to get to the title game as a reserve receiver without a podium, he smiled.

"It's not bittersweet," he said. "It's the Super Bowl."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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