Earlier today, the Miami Dolphins opened up training camp with a new coach and the belief that they can be the team to surprise everybody by going from worst to first again. While most people are concerned with how long “offset language” contract differences are going to keep rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill (and his wife Lauren) from camp, I was more interested in seeing how the former Ochocinco looked in the aqua and orange.
Judging from the above picture, you can tell that Johnson is in excellent physical shape. As for on the field, he looked good running routes and showed soft hands on throws of varying quality. The fans seemed excited to have him around, reacting positively whenever he touched the ball.
Because I was there representing BSO, I had to wear my Dollarnaire shirt (get yours here). Of course that made for an interesting scene when I was standing next to Stephen Ross, an actual BILLIONAIRE.
I caught up with Chad as he was going into the locker room, hoping to get a sound bite or quote I could share with you guys, what I got was a chest bump and referred to his wife Evelyn Lozada so we could go to lunch when he finished up. Totally unexpected of an NFL player but not totally uncommon if you follow him on Twitter.
When practice concluded, he sent me a message to meet him at his house. When I pulled into his community I drove around looking for his house, I wasnt sure if i had pulled up to the right house, until i saw this truck parked in front of me.
Maybe it is too many years of watching MTV Cribs, but I fully expected the door to open and for there to be a huge group of people having a barbecue and diving into a gigantic pool. Much to my surprise, Evelyn opened the door, welcomed me in and took me into the living room where Chad was watching TV on the couch.
Very normal, very similar to what I would have been doing if I were at home. Of course their entertainment center is a giant fish tank with three embedded televisions (all featuring sports) and a Lamborghini in the garage, so it wasn’t exactly the same.
Oddly enough, when I sat down the NFL Network was discussing the impact Chad would have on the Dolphins and criticizing his season with the New England Patriots. I asked him if he ever listens to what they have to say and he said no, that it was just what was on. It may be because he has heard criticism his whole career or because he really doesn’t care what his critics say, but he got up to get something from the kitchen while they were talking about him. He seemed slightly more interested in the next segment, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan talking to the press.
Another thing he has heard his whole career is how much of a distraction and troublemaker he is and he told me he actually likes that people have that perception of him. I sensed a little bit of a WWE heel in what he said, he doesn’t mind if people like him as long as they are talking about him.
You would think that somebody with as many interests as Chad, a Twitter obsession as bad as his and three TV’s on at once in his living room, focusing might be a problem. Truth is, when we talked about his preparation for the upcoming season and who he looks forward to facing, he just said that it doesn’t matter who lines up in front of him, he has blinders on and has a singular focus to be great this season. He also mentioned that Hard Knocks is not going to be a distraction because he has gone through it before with the Cincinnati Bengals and he doesn’t plan on doing anything out of the ordinary for the cameras other than just do what he does.
One thing that really caught me by surprise was how normal Chad and Evelyn’s relationship seemed. She admitted that when they met while she was on Basketball Wives, she thought he was a “douchebag” and argued with him via Twitter. Now it is the two of them and their five dogs (or as he pointed out her dogs) An odd tidbit, even though he changed his name back to Chad Johnson she is technically still Evelyn Ochocinco until she gets her new driver’s license and can do the paperwork.
For somebody who has had an interesting rise to fame, Evelyn mentioned that she is really happy at this stage in her life and that she is content to settle down. I didn’t get the impression that she was going to stay home and bake cookies all day and watch the Young and the Restsless, but she is happy to be married and it seems like she is in a good place.
For somebody as outspoken and outtweeted, he was simple and concise in his approach.
Play. Talk. Tweet.
Seems like a pretty good philosophy.