Commentary: Bengals Keeping Chad Ochocinco Might Be Prudent

Editor's Note: This article was conceived as a "deviil's advocate piece" to Jason's article in which he shares the exact opposite views of Chad Ochocinco that was published at 7 p.m. 

In a world where a congressman named Weiner (pronounced the funny way) actually sent lewd photos of ... himself ... across publicly accessed social media, I suppose that nothing should surprise me anymore. This is a world where suburban housewives allow their lives to be video taped - and people actually watch it. We live in a world where it's a good idea to make a sandwich out of two layers of chicken (aka the bread) and a layer of bacon (the meat part of the meat sandwich). There are people in the world that buy those shoes that look like somebody attached the bottom of a rocking chair to them (Shape-Ups) and  believe that they are getting a workout when wearing them.

That's why I wasn't surprised when Chad Ochocinco went bull riding or when he announced that he was going to wrangle snakes. In fact, far from being surprised, I almost expected the news. Publicity stunts like that are part of who Chad is and what Chad does. If he decided that he wanted to be an astronaut and started training with NASA - that wouldn't surprise me either, because Chad is a master of self promotion.

What would surprise me? If Chad Ochocinco was a Bengal in 2011.

I went on the record last week on the Cincy Jungle podcast and said that I don't think he'll be back next year. In truth there are a lot of reasons why the Bengals organization should cut him. However, I wanted to play the Devil's advocate this week and say why it might be a good idea for the Bengals to keep him around for one last season.

 

Chad provides the team with a veteran presence on the field. You can say what you want about him: he's selfish, he freelances routes, or that he's a distraction in the lockerroom. However, Chad knows how to play football. He's a veteran who keeps himself in excellent shape on an annual basis and can provide the team with the kind of stability that they need in a lockout shortened season. The most receptions by any current Bengals wide receiver in a season is Jordan Shipley, who caught 52 passes last year as rookie. After that, it's Andre Caldwell who caught 51 balls in 2009. Does this unit have potential? Yes. Have they proven they can live up to that potential? Absolutely not. If A.J. Green, Jerome Simpson, Caldwell and Shipley all live up to their billing, I think that they have a high ceiling. However, the Bengals need somebody on the team who knows how to perform at a high level in the NFL in case one or a couple of those guys don't pan out like we hope.

Chad's antics are good for Cincinnati football. That's right. I'm making an argument that Chad's bull riding is good for Cincinnati football -- and no, I have not been smoking anything (though the temperature did reach 100 degrees in Minnesota at the time of this writing and heat stroke is a very real possibility). It's true that we are all tired of Chad on some level. Some of us think that his media exploits are harmful to the team because it takes away from his preparation. Others believe that they hurt team cohesion. These things might be true, but on a financial level keeping Chad makes a lot of sense. His presence on the team sells tickets, it sells jerseys, and it draws national attention to a team that would otherwise get none. He has helped to make professional football in Cincinnati a viable business reality following a decade where fans had to show up to the stadium with bags over their heads. I don't think the team is in any financial jeopardy, nor are they in danger of leaving the city anytime soon. However, every dollar that the organization brings in helps to make sure that these things stay that way.

Chad's presence next year could only help 2011 record. 4-12 is a miserable record and I get that. I also understand that Chad's production has been slowly declining over the last few years. However, those two things are not directly correlated. The Bengals problem last year was not its lack of a passing game or talented wideouts. The Bengals threw for over 3,700 yards last season - good for 13th in the league. That number was an improvement over their 2009 total by about 800 yards. My point? The Bengals weren't losing games because Chad wasn't catching the ball. You might want to argue that his freelancing caused interceptions to swing games in the wrong direction, but you could just as easily point at the defensive inability to get to the QB or the lack of a real running game. Blaming Chad for 2010 would be like blaming Jar Jar Binks (an apt comparison to Chad if I do say so myself) for the fall of the Galactic Republic. Ridiculous. On a team where no receiver has caught more than 60 balls in a season, Chad's veteran presence could only help their record.

I couldn't blame anybody for wanting to move on from the Palmer/Ochocinco era and there are good reasons for cutting the enigmatic wide receiver, but know this: doing so is not going to fix the Bengals' problems. Keeping a veteran wide receiver on the team might be a prudent move for a team that's trying to regain its winning form in 2011.

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