June 18, 2012

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Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, & Chad Ochocinco on the Comeback Trail

By: Anson Whaley

As recently as two years ago, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, and Chad Ochocinco were three of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL. Each was a few years past his respective prime, but still able to contribute heavily. The trio combined for more than 2,200 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2010, and the group was still a potent bunch.

Two years later, though, and it’s a different story.

Moss didn’t play last season and after a brief retirement, signed with the San Francisco 49ers for 2012. Moss may be the biggest question mark as he had the worst numbers of the three players in 2010. He failed to make big splashes with any of the three (yes, three) teams for which he played. Moss had brief stints with the New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, and Tennessee Titans, but had a hard time fitting in with any of them, even though he previously had done well with the Patriots.

Alex Smith

The San Francisco 49ers and Alex Smith are hoping Randy Moss can help improve their passing attack.

An offseason injury in 2011 forced Terrell Owens to the sideline. He was deemed ready to play by his agent and even held a televised workout in October, but no NFL teams attended. With no other options, Owens suited up for the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League, playing there earlier this year, but has since been released.

After a solid 2010, Chad Ochocinco dropped off in a big way last season. Playing for the New England Patriots, he never fully grasped the system and simply wasn’t a good fit. He had the worst season of his career with only 276 receiving yards and a single touchdown.

Even though all three have question marks, each is headed in different directions as I see it.

Of the three, Owens’ career may be the one most in danger. The fact that his workout in 2011 drew no NFL interest shows exactly where he stands in terms of league appeal. And while he had a productive 2010 playing alongside Ochocinco in Cincinnati, he wasn’t able to dominate the Indoor Football League this past season. Owens played in only eight games, so it’s not fair to judge him based on total numbers. But his per game average of 52.9 yards a game wasn’t even in the league’s top 20 and he was merely a good, not great, wideout. For a player trying to get back to the NFL, it isn’t terribly impressive that he wasn’t even among the best receivers in an indoor league. It’s a different brand of football, but Owens’ skill should still translate into better numbers.

Moss, on the other hand, will have an immediate opportunity. He’s headed to a 49ers team that is in desperate need of an upgraded passing attack. Alex Smith has become a serviceable quarterback, but will have a chance to get even better if Moss is in shape. Even in his older age, Moss has a chance to become a top target in San Fran. Still, it’s hard to put his dismal 2010 out of mind. When you think about his inability to fit with any of the three teams for which he played, it’s pretty unsettling. The bottom line is that while he’s getting yet another shot, there’s no guarantee Moss will work out.

Ochocinco recently signed with the Miami Dolphins and may have the best chance to revive his career simply because he’s the youngest. At only 34, there’s still plenty of time for him to be effective. His numbers were incredibly low last season, but there’s good reason to think that his year was a bit of an anomaly. Playing in New England as a wide receiver is a bit different than many places. The Patriots emphasize finding the open man rather than looking for specific targets – it’s one of the reasons why unknowns can produce big seasons there. The other thing to like about Ochocinco is that even while playing alongside Owens in 2010, he still racked up over 800 yards receiving and caught nearly 70 passes. Playing in Miami, he’ll become one of the focal points of the passing game since the Dolphins allowed their No. 1 receiver, Brandon Marshall, to go to the Chicago Bears. Ochocinco will be the star in Miami and could even be in line for a 1,000-yard season if he’s still healthy. If you need another reason for his potential success, look no further than the Dolphins’ potent rushing game, which was 11th in the NFL. That should free up the passing game a bit and give Ochocinco an even bigger chance for success.

If anything slows him down this year, it will be the quarterback situation. The Dolphins selected Ryan Tannehill in the first round and could be forced to play him early on. That could prevent Ochocinco from having a huge season if Tannehill has some growing pains, but Miami also has veterans David Garrard and Matt Moore in place. Neither is great, but both are capable NFL quarterbacks.

All three have a chance to become impact receivers again, but my bet is on Ochocinco to do the most with the remainder of his career.

June 8, 2012

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Where Will Ochocinco End Up?

By: Junior

With news coming out yesterday that Chad Ochocinco was released by the New England Patriots, speculation has started on where the wide receiver could end up next year. It has been a rough year for wide receivers in the NFL. Terrell Owens has been unable to land with a team, Hines Ward retired maybe a bit earlier than he wanted to, and now Chad Ochocinco needs to find a home. So which teams could be interested in the former Pro Bowl wide receiver?

Could Chad Ochocinco and Trent Richardson be teammates next season?

Houston Texans

If the Houston Texans have interest in Ochocinco, you would have to think they would be the favorites. The team on my list with the best chances of making it to the playoffs this season, Chad went to the Patriots in the hopes of winning a Super Bowl.  The Texans made the playoffs last year and might see Ochocinco as the WR they have been looking for to free Andre Johnson of constant double teams.

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills have some precedent with this type of signing, having picked up Terrell Owens in 2009. The Bills started off last season with a 5-2 record before eventually ending up 6-10. That fast start, with the free agency addition of Mario Williams and the drafting of Stephon Gilmore could be enough to entice Ochocinco. The Bills don’t have much in the WR department outside of Stevie Johnson, so Ochocinco could be a solid addition to their offense.

Cleveland Browns
This might be a long shot, but the Cleveland Browns desperately were looking for a WR going into the NFL Draft, and while they came out with a new QB and RB, they still are thin at wide receiver. The Browns aren’t considered likely candidates to make a big playoff run, but with a revamped offense, Ochocinco could be a missing piece to a rebound season.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins lost their #1 receiver in Brandon Marshall during the off-season, when they traded him to the Chicago Bears. They may find Ochocinco to be too much of a distraction for their team to gamble on, but they could definitely use the help. Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill could use some help with targets to throw to and there aren’t many WR’s of Ochocino’s caliber available on the free agent market.

St. Louis Rams

Sam Bradford is a solid young QB on a pretty awful St. Louis Rams football team. With WR’s Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson as his wideouts, you have to think Bradford would welcome Chad Ochocinco to the offense. Jeff Fisher has taken a gamble on an older receiver before, having acquired Randy Moss while he was the head coach of the Tennessee Titans. I am not sure Ochocinco would go to a team that has struggled like the Rams have, but right now, his options are limited.

March 23, 2011

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Chad Ochocinco and the Pursuit of Multi-Sport Excellence

By: Lionel

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Chad Ochocinco is trying out for Major League Soccer’s Sporting KC.  Ochocinco has never shied away from publicity, and MLS needs all the publicity it can get, so the tryout itself can’t be looked at as anything but positive.  The potential for controversy really comes down to the decision the team will have to make at the end of the tryout.

Maybe he’ll legitimately earn his way onto the team.  There’s no denying that he, like so many pros in any sport, is an exceptional athlete.  He’s faster, stronger, more agile, more fit, and has better hand-eye coordination than 99.99% of the athletes in this country (when you include amateurs), so there’s no doubt in my mind that he has an infinitely better chance of making the Sporting KC team than I or any of the guys on my softball team would have.  But is freaky athleticism enough to secure a spot on a professional soccer team when you haven’t played organized soccer in a decade?

Michael Jordan was one of the greatest athletes the world has ever witnessed.  But even “His Greatness” wasn’t able to successfully make the switch from basketball to baseball.  Recently retired pitcher John Smoltz was one of the best hurlers in baseball of the past three decades.  His outstanding skills, however, have not yet been enough to launch a second career in golf.  Had either of them given the same time and focus to their “second” sports that they gave to their “first” sports, is it possible that Jordan would today be mentioned in the same breath as Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs, and Ken Griffey, Jr., and that Smoltz would have spent the last two decades competing with the likes of Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, and Tiger Woods?

Multi-sport athletes are certainly not new.  Jim Thorpe, who competed well before the time of anyone reading this, is a legend in baseball, football, basketball, and many track and field events.  In more recent history, Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders put up very respectable baseball numbers while also playing professional football.  But few have been able to truly excel at more than one professional sport.  Even for the extremely gifted, it takes so much time and effort to compete at the highest level in one sport that there just aren’t enough hours in the day or energy in the body to be similarly elite at another game.

Did you know that Tom Brady was drafted by the Expos?  Daunte Culpepper was drafted by the YankeesJohn Elway played in both the Yankees’ and the Royals’ minor league system.  Pat Riley was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, Danny Ainge played a few seasons for the Blue Jays, Tony Gwynn was drafted by the Clippers, Dan Marino was drafted by the Royals, and Randy “Macho Man” Savage played minor league ball for the Cardinals and Reds (Oh, yeah!).  Each of these guys made a choice to concentrate on a single sport in an endeavor to excel, recognizing, I’m sure, that he couldn’t reach the level of greatness that he eventually reached if his efforts were divided between two sports.

Is it completely a matter of divided efforts, though?  Or are some elite athletes just better suited for certain sports?  Did Dan Marino turn down the opportunity to play baseball because it was clear to him that his skills gave him a much better shot at being a stand-out football player than a stand-out baseball player?  A former college football playing buddy of mine often questions the choices he’s made.  “For all I know,” he’ll say, “I could be the greatest pickle ball player, buffalo chip tosser, or Marco Poloist in the world, but I haven’t ever attempted any of them.”  Maybe every elite athlete is built specifically for a certain game—athleticism can make him/her very good at many things, but only truly exceptional at one.

Whatever the case may be, the Ochocinco soccer tryout makes a great story.  Can he achieve greatness in a second professional sport?  I highly doubt it.  But I marvel at his athleticism, and I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I can’t wait to watch the story unfold.

February 4, 2011

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Piecing Together Ochocinco’s Day, According to His Tweets

By: Lionel

A condensed version of Chad Ochocinco’s February 3, according to his tweets:

Chad, in a Dallas hotel for the Super Bowl, begins his day with a top-of-the-morning photo and some good-natured cussing for his fans.  He’s a laid-back guy, so he flashes the “hang loose” sign.

Via @ochocinco twitpic

He next asks Adrian Battles if he’s ready for the Super Bowl

…and then stops for a photo-op with Dan Patrick and Darrelle Revis.

Via @ochocinco twitpic

Next up: Pants shopping at North Park Mall.

To save time between try-ons, he shops the mall in his underpants.

Via @ochocinco twitpic

Then it’s back to the hotel for some meditation, followed by game planning for the night’s Madden Bowl.

While at the hotel, Chad watches Paranormal Activity 2.

After the movie is over, it’s time for Madden Bowl, which proves to be a tale of extremes.

EXTREME HAPPINESS:  Chad teams up with Patrick Willis to win Madden Bowl!

EXTREME DISAPPOINTMENT:  Reggie Bush lets Chad know that he may have won Madden Bowl, but he still hasn’t won a Super Bowl.

Composing himself for the moment, Chad collects a ridiculously large Madden Bowl trophy.  For today, at least, it’s a happy ending.

Via @ochocinco twitpic

Follow Chad for yourself on Twitter (@ochocinco).