It appears the reports of Chad Ochocinco's athletic demise have been greatly exaggerated. Yesterday NFL.com reported that the Ocho's quest to trade football for football were quickly coming to an end. But this morning the man himself kept our dreams of a cross-sport spectacle alive:
Since Tuesday, Ochocinco has been huffing-and-puffing his way through drills and scrimmages in an effort to make good at his professed "number one love," using his lockout downtime to tryout for MLS's Sporting Kansas City (leave it to Chad to gravitate toward a grammatically exasperating team). While the tryout has been largely dismissed as another attention-grabbing charade, to his credit Ochocinco has been reverential to the players and the sport while evaluating his own performance on the pitch:
"I'm having fun, but by no means, I'm not delusional […] It takes extreme skill to play at this level [...] I have (enhanced) respect for the game and what they're able to do […] it takes more than just being athletic to come play at a level like this […] By no means did I think I was going to come in here and wow everybody, and in a way, it just lets you know how good these guys really are that I'm eating humble pie. Seriously."
Chad may be annoying and questionably self-assured, but he's rarely offensive (or maybe I'm one of the few that still like the guy).
Regardless of his sincerity, it looked like Ochocinco's foray into the nascent world of American professional soccer was to be short-lived. In an interview Thursday, Sporting Kansas City’s head coach Peter Vermes gave a pretty predictable assessment of Chad's futbol skillz:
"First off, (the game at this level is) definitely above him […] And it's something that's maybe a little surprising to him, how fast the game is and how athletic and technical the guys are with the speed of play [...] I haven't made all my conclusions -- he'll be back (Friday) and will train Saturday -- but these guys (on Sporting) have been doing it every day on a regular basis [...] It would be like if one of our guys jumped into an NFL game. It would be foreign to them in some respects: 'How do I get with the pace of the game?' But I know he's definitely enjoying himself, and I know the guys are enjoying their time with him."
It's obviously still a long shot (and maybe just an attempt to prolong the national spotlight on MLS), but his extended tryout makes for some interesting speculation. It’d certainly be an intriguing scenario if he were to make the team in some capacity, since when he was asked what would happen if he were signed to a contract and the NFL lockout came to an end, Ochocinco wryly replied that he’d probably be required to leave Sporting Kansas City, but he wouldn’t leave anyway and just "piss off the Bengals." Maybe that would solve a number of the team's current problems.
But even if his soccer dreams are dashed and the lockout continues, don't worry about getting your Ocho fix. If nothing else, Chad is industrious: it's already being reported that he has a new reality TV show in the works with his fiancé/reality TV star/shoe store owner Evelyn Lozada. And heck, if that doesn't pan out, maybe he'll start a sitcom where he runs a nail salon in Queens. I’d watch that.