Ochocinco’s Just Talking To Himself
Wednesday - October 20, 2010
Chad Ochocinco admits his game isn’t what it once was. He’s lost his confidence, he says, and has a plan to get it back: more trash talking.
One could be excused for not realizing the wideout formerly known as Chad Johnson has been a quieter competitor of late. His lame reality TV show notwithstanding, he has been almost mute in comparison to the C.O. of old.
No proposals, no River Dancing and no more $2 payoffs to the officials. Just slowly degrading skills.
Why the silent treatment for so long? Indifference? Bad publicity? Newfound modesty? Maturity?
Don’t be silly.
“You know, you’re 32, you’re trying to be a little bit more mature and try a different approach,” he told the Associated Press. “That doesn’t work. It’s not working. Honestly, I’m going out there flat. Every game I’m going out there flat. I’m unsure of myself when the ball is coming.”
At least he tried.
And haven’t we heard this before?
It wasn’t too long ago that Stephon Marbury determined his lack of production was based not on diminishing skills but because his alter ego, Starbury, had been making fewer on-court appearances. More Starbury meant more points, more assists and more victories. His plan worked. In China.
Perhaps he was right all along. He just needed a bit more Xingbury.
But can Ochocinco’s turnaround be as complete?
Old No. 85 has the prerequisite ego that is essential to all good talkers. Last week he told AP, “That’s the way I am, and that’s what everybody feeds off as a city and as an organization, and I haven’t been that.”
OK. But can he play enough to warrant the added tongue exercises? For this is the basis of trash talking: being able to back it up. If you can’t, you just look like a fool.
Muhammad Ali was the greatest talker of all time. He didn’t just talk, he enraged opponents. Then he whupped them. At least for a while. Larry Bird talked trash at an All-Star game, then proceeded to win the three-point contest. Joe Namath did what at the time was unthinkable and guaranteed victory in Super
Bowl III. His prediction proved correct. Then, of course, there was Michael Jordan, whose verbal battles with John Starks provide the perfect test case of trash-talking propriety.
Starks gets credit for braggadocio, if not for brains. He refused to acknowledge the mistake that most only dared to make once. The Knicks guard could match Jordan adverb-for-adverb, but he couldn’t match him where it mattered most. MJ owned him and the Knicks. But Starks kept yapping.
That’s where Ochocinco finds himself.
The six-time Pro Bowler has been in a statistical decline for years. His yards receiving per game is the third lowest of his career, as is his yards per catch.
A season ago he got 128 looks, again the third lowest, even though the No. 2 receiver was running back Laveranues Coles. He hasn’t had a 90-catch season since the ‘07-‘08 season. Take away his 12-catch opening game performance against New England and he has averaged just 3.5 catches per game.
So how is talking gonna help?
Bird, Jordan and Ali were successful in the vocal part of the game because there was always an element of fear. It’s one thing to face the bear, it is quite another to poke him with a stick and not think there is a price to be paid.
Defensive backs no longer fear the Bengals’ receiver, and adding Terrell Owens to the mix hasn’t opened things up for the Oregon State alum. It’s just made him a secondary option.
He can talk all he wants, but will anyone listen?
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