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Cincy Jungle Ring of Honor Candidate No. 9: Chad Johnson aka "OchoCinco"

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Our ninth candidate for the Cincy Jungle Ring of Honor was one of the most fun-loving and entertaining Bengals of all-time and is our first player of the modern era. Chad Johnson's personality alone is worthy of Ring of Honor consideration, but so was his play.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

We are taking it upon ourselves to do what the Bengals' franchise has failed and refused to do during the past 46 years -- compile a true Ring of Honor for Bengals fans. Each day, we're presenting a candidate for the Ring of Honor and educating Bengals fans on the great history of the franchise for which they root, and the great players that have donned the stripes over the years. After our 10 candidates are presented, you, the fans, will vote for the first five players to be inducted into the Cincy Jungle Bengals Ring of Honor's inaugural class. Let's get started with our next candidate!

Chad Johnson aka OchoCinco (85)

Height: 6'1"

Weight: 192

Position: WR

Bengals Career: 2001-2010

Drafted: Round 2, Pick 36

Biography

No inaugural class candidate will receive as much debate among Bengals fans and non-Bengals fans as our ninth candidate, Chad Johnson (aka OchoCinco). Because of his on- and off-the-field antics - which many perceived as self-serving, distracting and cancerous to a team - you won't find many fans in the middle on Johnson. When it comes to Johnson, I believe he is a good person, a good teammate, one hell of a wide receiver and I believe his antics were all good natured.

Unfortunately, the reactions to his non-football antics distracted some from noticing his greatness on the field. Regardless of how you feel about Chad the person, Chad the player was one hell of a football player and his larger than life personality brought an entire franchise out of the dark of the NFL basement and back into football relevance. It could be argued that what he did for this organization, from a marketing standpoint, given where the franchise had been for the prior decade plus (the laughing stock of the league), that Chad Johnson, yes, OchoCinco, was the most important person in this franchise's history after Paul Brown himself.

He took a franchise that had been irrelevant for more than a decade and made them relevant again. You may not have liked his Pepto Bismol gifts, his DB checklist, his goofy touchdown celebrations, but suddenly people wanted to watch the Bengals - and not just people in Cincinnati. People wanted to see what Johnson would do next, and because of that, people saw a Bengals team grow and emerge back into NFL relevance. They saw a franchise and a team that wasn't what they once thought. Free agents saw a team they could play for. Like it or not, the respectable place that Cincinnati holds once again in the eyes of the NFL, fans and free agents, is a change started by "85."

And when he wasn't giving the football the Heimlich, or holding up signs for Santa in the endzone, he was playing the wide receiver position as well as anyone ever has.

One thing the Bengals' franchise has excelled at, is producing Pro Bowl receivers. In the 46 years since Paul Brown started the Bengals' franchise, it has had more Pro Bowl wide receivers than any other position. In fact, the Bengals have had a Pro Bowl wide receiver in 26 of their 46 seasons and Chad Johnson has nearly one quarter of those appearances (6).

While he may not be the best receiver in franchise history (Isaac Curtis - the original "85" likely was), he owns every meaningful franchise receiving record. He came to a franchise rich with wide receiver history and he smashed every record in the building. Defenses had to scheme on ways to take him out of the game and because of the attention he garnered, wide receivers like T.J. Houshmanzadeh and Chris Henry were able to flourish around him as well. In the early parts of his career, Chad was known for his hard work and tireless dedication to his craft and it paid off.

From 2002-2007, he rattled off six consecutive 1,000+ yard seasons, five Pro Bowl selections, one NFL receiving crown (2006 - 1,369) and four of the franchise's five best seasons in terms of receiving yards (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007). And with all due respect to Chris Carter, I have never seen a wide receiver who could ballerina along the sidelines like Chad in his prime. He had the innate ability, mid-catch, to let his lower body essentially go limp and drop his tiptoes on the edge of play while falling out of bounds. It was a thing of beauty, and Bengals fans everywhere are lucky to have been able to watch it firsthand.

Resume For Induction

Accomplishments

  • 6-Time Pro Bowler (t-2nd in franchise history)
  • 2-Time First-Team All-Pro
  • 766 receptions (34th in NFL history)
  • 11,059 yards (30th in NFL history)
  • 67 receiving touchdowns (t-43rd in NFL history)
  • 66.6 yards per game (34th in NFL history)
  • 260 receiving yards in a single game (t-16th most in NFL history)
  • 3 consecutive 100 yard receiving games (t-2nd in franchise history) (2x - 2002, 2006)

Team Records

  • 751 receptions (766 career)
  • 10,783 yards (11,059 career)
  • 66 touchdowns (67 career)
  • Most receiving yards in a single season (1,440)
  • Holds four of the franchises top five seasons for receiving yards (1,440, 1,432, 1,369, 1,355)
  • Single game record for receiving yards (260)
  • Most 100 yard receiving games (31)
  • Most 100 yard receiving games in a season (5 - 3x)
  • Tied for most receiving touchdowns in a single game (3)

Impact on the Franchise

  • Chad Johnson's off the field antics and guarantees, though frustrating to many, brought the Bengals' franchise (and the city for that matter) - the laughing stock of the league at the time - out of the dark and back onto the NFL map - and the NFL spotlight. For the first time in over a decade, the Bengals were cool again in their own city, and for the first time in what felt like 20 years, NFL fans were paying attention to the Bengals...and not just laughing at them.

Impact on the City

  • From their Super Bowl season of 1988 until Chad Johnson's boisterous guaranteed victory in 2003 over the then undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, the Bengals were not just a laughing stock in the NFL, they were a laughing stock and point of ridicule in their own city. If you wore Bengals gear, you were made fun of or received sympathy...in Cincinnati! Going to Bengals games or wearing Bengals gear wasn't cool. Games weren't on TV because they didn't sell out and many of those who wasted their hard earned money to go watch the team at Riverfront Stadium and then Paul Brown Stadium, did so with paper bags on their heads. Fans would bring signs bashing the team and ownership, and ownership would respond by having the signs taken away. That changed in 2003 when a young and upcoming star receiver, with a fun-loving, big, loud and unfiltered mouth and unwavering confidence, guaranteed a then 4-5 Bengals team would beat the then undefeated (9-0) and seemingly invincible Kansas City Chiefs. Going into the game, the Chiefs were averaging 31. 9 points per game, had scored 38+ points in five of their nine games and had an average margin of victory of 15.2 points. Chad's prediction was ridiculous...until it came true. From that point on, Chad Johnson was a household name and the Bengals had a national interest. For the first time in what felt like 20 years, NFL fans were paying attention to the Bengals, and not just laughing at them.

Impact on the NFL

  • Chad Johnson brought back the fun in an NFL touchdown and some of his touchdown celebrations alone were Hall of Fame worthy. Unfortunately, as the NFL does, they quickly clamped down on Chad and his celebrating and robbed the fans of what were some of the most exciting (and creative) celebrations of all-time.

Blemishes on Resume:

In my opinion, none. His critics will site a perceived locker room distraction, but I believe that to be untrue.

My Opinion:

In my opinion, Chad Johnson is the second best receiver the Bengals have ever had, he holds every meaningful franchise receiving record and is biggest reason for the resurrection of this once proud football franchise and football city.

I think it is a shame that in the latter parts of his career, Johnson the entertainer seemed to get in the way of Johnson the football player. As a result, his football career - and Bengals career - were ended prematurely. Had he kept up the same work ethic that he had during the first half of his career, we could be talking about a top 10-15 receiver of all-time. It is my hope that one day soon, the Bengals will re-sign Johnson for the proverbial one-day contract and have him retire as a Cincinnati Bengal. Regardless, he was one of the best of his time, had a huge impact on the city, the franchise and the league and deserves to be in the Bengals Ring of Honor, and in my opinion, one day a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.