Chad Johnson is an NFL player who’s never had any trouble making headlines or getting attention. In case the name isn’t very familiar to you, this is the guy who, in 2008, legally changed his name to Chad Ochocinco. Why “Ochocinico”? Because he wore number 85 on his jersey. That’s a thing a crazy person does.
In addition to that little episode, Johnson/Ochocinco was famous (or infamous) for the ways in which he sought negative attention from the media, calling out teammates and coaches for perceived slights, and engaging in some pretty crazy on-field celebrations after scoring touchdowns. I seem to recall at one point that he donned a sombrero and a poncho.
After spending most of his eleven-year career as a wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, and an uninspiring single season with the New England Patriots last year, this season was make it or break it for the wide receiver. And, if you’ve been following the news, he broke it. Johnson was a member of the Miami Dolphins for only a few short weeks, and was released over the weekend when he was arrested on assault charges, apparently having head-butted his wife during an argument. Now a free agent, the future for the once and future Mr. Ochocinco is extremely unclear.
Now, I don’t take any pleasure in the unfortunate twists and turns Johnson’s life has taken recently at all, especially given the violent nature of the events that got him booted from the Dolphins. But it did get me wondering about some of the items that bear his name. Often times, when a player becomes famous for great achievements on or off the field, the memorabilia associated with them goes up in value and demand, even if for only a short time. But in Johnson’s case, I wondered if there would be a backlash against the player and his accompanying collectibles.
After lots of searches of Google and auction sites, it seems as though Johnson’s time on the Dolphins’ roster is being retroactively scrubbed from the internet. I know that Nike had to have made replica jerseys with Johnson’s name and trademark 85 on them—in fact, Google even brings up results that prove this to be the case:
But when you click the links for the Dolphins’ official store, no such jerseys are listed anywhere. In fact, visiting the official store of the NFL yielded no results for Johnson’s Miami jersey, either. The NFL store does have his Patriots jersey…but no Dolphins.
The best I could come up with were listings at two online sports apparel retailers, with one offering “Ochocinco” Dolphins jerseys, likely made in the brief, six week period between being signed by Miami and changing his name back to Johnson (apparently he made the switch so his now-estranged wife wouldn’t have to be “Mrs. Ochocinco”). The other was this Johnson jersey at a site that specializes in providing fans with custom NFL gear, so it’s conceivable that these are simply customs and not necessarily the real deal straight from Nike. Both jerseys are being offered at reduced rates, as you may have noticed. The only other memorabilia evidence that he was ever on the team is this autographed mini-helmet.
My question now, though, is what happened to the rest of the jerseys that Nike had to have manufactured? Do they get donated to World Vision, the not-for-profit group that sends merchandise sporting the names of losing championship teams to third world countries? Or are they just piling up in a warehouse somewhere, staying put until Johnson finds himself a new team, or the unfortunate circumstances of him being kicked off the Dolphins are forgotten by the public?
Anyone get a Johnson Dolphins jersey? Anyone have ideas as to what happened to the rest? Is this situation simply so unpleasant that no one wants to touch a Johnson jersey with a ten foot pole?